Noi Bai International Airport
Noi Bai International Terminal opened in early 2015. It is clean, modern and passenger flow is simplicity in itself.
The terminal is essentially a rectangle. After disembarking you will turn either right or left, depending in gate number, and head towards the centre of the building. The arrows then point you down an escalator to immigration.
From there, you go straight through to baggage claim and out. There are money changers and SIM card vendors to the left and right. If you are starving there is also a Burger King and a couple of local fast food outlets. But if you are craving your first banh mi of the trip I recommend you wait until you get into town.
Avoid drivers that sidle up to you in the terminal building. Drivers are not allowed inside so the fact that one is should tell you he is unlicensed and will almost certainly overcharge you. There is a taxi stand right outside the airport. Taxis are metred and there is an LED board displaying the price per kilometre for each of the various taxi companies. I was told though, that many of the drivers prefer to negotiate and those that don’t probably have dodgy metres. They will both cite bad traffic for why your fare is higher than the LED board suggests.
I had a hotel booked in advance. They e-mailed me specifically to ask if I would like to be picked up. Hotels, of course, will add their own markup so I’d guess it works out about the same in the long run. But I did get a nice new car all to myself and a hassle-free arrival. Even hotel drivers are not allowed into the building, there are loads of them waiting around outside with names on cards. Few people seemed to be using the taxis.
There are also buses and minibuses that will drop you at various points around the city.
Noi Bai is not a busy airport so if you are not flying with one of the local airlines you might find your check-in counters will not open until about two-three hours before your flight. There are a handful self check-in terminals but, at the time of writing, only available for Vietnam Airlines. There are a few eateries on the departure level including a Burger King. One floor up there are a number of other more expensive restaurants. There is also a viewing gallery where you can watch the planes arrive and take off.
Once past immigration and security the terminal is once again one long straight corridor. Departure gates are on one side, and shops and restaurants on the other. There is another Burger King and some local cuisine options. The duty-free has the usual selection of perfume, alcohol and tobacco products but not a lot else. There are a few souvenir shops and a money changer so you can get rid of your last few dong which are difficult to change outside the country.
There is free wifi in the airport but it can be rather hit and miss. For me, it worked best in the check-in area. A the gate it said I was connected but it still didn’t work.