Busines hours, car rentals, climate, hospitals

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Business Hours — Most Hanoi shops and offices are closed for lunch, usually from 11 or 11:30am to 12:30 or 1pm. Hanoians wake up very early to take advantage of cooler weather, and an early lunch is followed by some rest time in the heat of the day. Most offices close at 5pm and are shut on Sunday.

Car Rentals — Contact any tour operator or hotel concierge about booking a car with driver for day trips or to sights farther afield. Expect to pay about $30 to $40 per day, and $10 for a guide to accompany you.

Climate — Hanoi experiences relatively high humidity all year and a rainy season from May to October. Winter months are cool and damp (rarely below 57°F/14°C), but the heat starts to pick up in April and makes for a hot, wet summer (a popular time to hit cooler climates like Sapa in the far north or enjoy the offshore breezes in Halong).

Doctors & Hospitals — International SOS, at 31 Hai Ba Trung, just south of Hoan Kiem, is your best bet for emergency services and travel illness. Contact their 24-hour service center at tel. 04/3934-0555 or their clinic at tel. 04/3934-0666, or visit the website at www.internationalsos.com. International SOS is part of a worldwide international service that you can join for a fee and be covered anywhere they offer services. The organization has a capable staff of expatriate and Vietnamese doctors, with specialists ranging from pre- and post-natal care to tropical infectious disease experts, good eye doctors, and dentists. They work in collusion with most major insurance companies and can contact your provider to let you know if you are covered. The cost of an initial visit is $69 with an expatriate doctor or $59 with a Vietnamese doctor.

Hanoi Family Medical Practice at Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 298 Kim Ma (tel. 04/3843-0748), is another walk-in clinic, like International SOS, that caters to Hanoi’s growing expatriate community. They have a good dental center.

Another good choice for comprehensive service is the Hanoi French Hospital, south of the town center at 1 Phuong Mai (tel. 04/3574-0740). As the name suggests, the hospital caters to Francophones, and a knowledge of French is a plus, but doctors and staff can speak English as well. Service is very professional, efficient, and much more accessible and affordable than at the town’s two international clinics.