THE BEST WAY

From LAX, Asiana, China Southern, Korean, Cathay Pacific, China, Thai Airways, Singapore and Malaysian all offer connecting flights (change of planes) to Hanoi. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,206.

TELEPHONES

To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 84 (the country code for Vietnam), 4 (the city code for Hanoi) and the number.

WHERE TO STAY

Church Hotel, 9 Nha Tho St.; 928-8118, www.churchhotel.com.vn. A small, stylish hotel near the Hanoi Cathedral that fills up fast, so book early. Doubles $45 to $75, including breakfast.

Green Mango Restaurant and Hotel, 18 Hang Quat St.; 928-9916, www.greenmango-hanoi.com. A newly opened budget hotel with only seven stylishly decorated rooms (including two with balconies) near the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake. Doubles $50 to $90, including breakfast.

Hong Ngoc Hotel, 30-34 Hang Manh St.; 828-5053, www.hongngochotel.com. A part of a small, home-grown Hanoi hotel chain, located near the cathedral and silk district. The best rooms are in the rear and have Chinese- style furnishings. Doubles $51 to $79.

Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, 15 Ngo Quyen St., 826-6919, www.sofitel.com, is one of the most historic and handsome hotels in Southeast Asia, exquisitely restored by the French Sofitel group and located near the Hanoi Opera. There's a pool and one of the city's best French restaurants. Just make sure to ask for a room in the old wing; doubles from $440.

WHERE TO EAT

Café des Arts, 11B Ngo Bao Khanh; 828-7207. Serves Paris bistro fare on the second floor of a town house near the cathedral. There's a handsome old bar with photos of jazz greats; Fixed-price dinner about $20.

Café Goethe, 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.; 734-2251. A terrace cafe in one of Hanoi's finest Art Deco villas, now the German Goethe Institute. Lunch specials $4 to $7.

Green Tangerine, 48 Hang Be; 825-1286. A popular, candlelit French restaurant in a fine old town house covered with vines. The five-course fixed-price dinner runs about $20.

Tam Tu, 84 Ly Thuong Kiet St. Excellent and modestly priced Thai restaurant, with a smart location next to the Fansland Cinema, a large- screen theater that often shows classics in their original languages.

Verticale, 19 Ngo Van So St.; 944-6317, www.verticale-hanoi.com. Haute French- Vietnamese cuisine by Didier Corlon, formerly of the Metropole, in a stylishly renovated Hanoi town house. Dinners $40 to $60, not including wine.

TO LEARN MORE

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, www.vietnamtourism.com.

Consulate General of Vietnam, San Francisco; (415) 922-1577, www.vietnamconsulate-ca.org. U.S. citizens must have visas to enter Vietnam.