Mini Guide to Hanoi, Vietnam


Mini Guide to Hanoi, Vietnam

In almost every country I have visited, I want to go back, and Vietnam is no exception. I only managed to make it to one city during my stay, but I don’t regret my city choice at all, even if I have heard that Ho Chi Minh is better.

Hanoi was much more developed than I had expected but less chaotic than Bangkok. Even though I had just come from Bangkok and was sweating the moment I stepped outside, I had to purchase a jacket from one of the many “North Face” stores you will see around the city. I was not packed appropriately at all. I was expecting hot weather, just as I had experienced in Thailand. So a word to the wise, check the temperature because you might also need to purchase a light jacket.

The city feels like you are in a developing country, but it still does not leave you wanting any of the usual comforts you might be used to. With that being said, everything here is extremely cheap. Even in the so-called tourist spots, everything is still cheap. A decent hotel room can be had for around 15 USD a night, with below 5 USD a night for a hostel, and many of those will still include breakfast and a free welcome Beer. If you are on a budget and have the time, this is a spot that I recommend just booking for your first night or two online and then searching for a better spot once you arrive. Finding a place to stay is super easy, and typically, the nicest spots for the cheapest amount of money won’t be advertised online, at least not in English.

Regarding food and drinks, I haven’t found another country to be cheaper. You can buy a beer for around 10 cents USD and an entire meal of basically anything you want for under 3 USD. It's only a matter of time before this all changes, but it is inexpensive now.

Quick Facts
Hanoi is the Capital city of Vietnam
Population: 7.588 Million
Currency: Vietnamese Dong
Language: Vietnamese

My Top Picks of things to do in Hanoi

  • Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum – It's exactly as it sounds, but this is huge.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum

  • Hoan Kiem Lake – walking around this little lake does not take very long. You will see people have photo sessions all around it, and if you walk around at night, you will get to see some pretty cool lighting.
Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

  • St. Josephs Cathedral – This is a fascinating site in a South East Asian country and a pretty unique site surrounded by lovely little shops and cafes.
St. Josephs Cathedral

  • Walk around the Old Quarter – This is the older part of the city, but you can feel and see the French influence here. The building architecture is very much in the French European style, and you don't feel like you are in a South East Asian country.
  • Bia Hoi corner – This is a really fantastic spot to enjoy a beer and food while having some of the best people watching in your life. This is a unique little corner where all these little restaurants and everyone sits outside eating and drinking. The roads are closed at night, and you can only walk along these streets. They become packed and crowded with little stools that are basically little kid's seats, and everyone is having a good time.
Bia Hoi corner

Bia Hoi corner

  • Buy some outdoor gear – I don’t really advocate purchasing fake products, but when you are on a budget, these things are excellent. Almost every street in Hanoi has a little shop with a “North Face Outlet” sign. Are these shops really outlet stores? While many outdoor manufacturers have factories in Vietnam, I will say no; these are probably not legit. I can say this because my friend purchased a “North Face” Jacket from one of these shops, and while it was actually of good construction and quality, it said North Face on the outside and Black Yak (a very high-end Korean outdoor clothing brand) on the inside seem and an entirely different brand on the tag. I will say these products are still of good quality but don’t expect them to last because you get what you pay for.
Being the American I am, I will have to mention something I found funny. As you are leaving Hanoi, you can get Popeyes at the airport. However, before you get past security, you can eat at the Popeyes on that side for extremely low Vietnamese prices, but once you get past security into the International Terminal, they have a Popeyes on that side as well, and the prices skyrocket. I am talking about over 300% price increase. The past security price is almost the normal everyday US prices but the before security price is almost nothing. Just found that interesting because same airport and country but significantly different prices.

If you have anything you want to add or have any questions, please feel free to post it in the comments below.


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