Welcome To Hanoi
The capital and political hub of Vietnam, Hanoi has grown around the shell of the used-to-be French colonial reign, both structurally and culturally, gracefully. With new and modern architects being built on top of old French buildings and public structures and the impressive variety of food heavily inspired from both cultures, Vietnamese and French, Hanoi is guaranteed to have everything for
Enjoy a hot bowl of porridge outside of Dong Xuan market, after shopping for random items and souvenirs.
- Go on a pub crawl along the Old Quarters
- Trying out all the crowded street food shops
- Have a jog near the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Over the past few years, getting around Hanoi has never been easier. Grab and Uber has been on the rise in popularity, much to tourist’s rejoice (although the two have now been merged into one under the name of Grab). No more the fear of motorcycle taxi’s scamming those unaware, or sketchy taxi’s giving you a roundabout ride around Hanoi before dropping you off, the ride sharing app allows you to go to and from the Old Quarters to anywhere else within Hanoi with only $4 or lower when using Grab Car, and with only around $2, you can go to anywhere Grab Bike (motor taxi). One should note to avoid rush hours, such as 8AM or 4-5PM, where the demand for the service drastically increases, causing the price to hike up by at least 2x and going from destinations to destinations at those times might not be the most comfortable experience.
Another alternative, is to rent out a motorbike. Most hostels in the Old Quarter offer these services, with the price of around $7-$10 a day. There are also car rental locations for those who are looking for one, but it is not advisable nor legal so it is best not to dwell on that option.
Other options such as traditional taxi or motorbike taxi is also there for you to choose. Just make sure to look for reliable taxi brands such as Mai Linh, Thanh Nga, Open99 to avoid possible scamming. Motorbike taxi only be considered if all other options are unavailable and even then, beware and always use the ride sharing apps prices as reference when negotiating prices.
Hanoi consists of 12 urban district, but more than likely, the 4 districts that you will be frequenting will be: Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung.
- Hoan Kiem: The commercial center of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem is one of the most frequent district for both locals and expats alike. Famous for the Old Quarters, where activities never stops until 4AM the next day and the cycle continues as early as 8AM. Home to a vibrant and thriving nightlife, a wide array of sightseeing options and food variety, Hoan Kiem is a must-go when it comes to entertainment.
- Ba Dinh: Ba Dinh is the political hub of Hanoi, with most of the government offices and embassies are located within the district. Ba Dinh also has a lot of sightseeing locations and museums, 2 of the most well-knowns are the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda allowing travelers to explore a quieter and normal Hanoi.
- Hai Ba Trung: The most populous district, Hai Ba Trung has some of the largest universities located there. With the high number of population and a considerable amount of young people, it is to be expected that the district has a huge number of street food corners and restaurants, satisfying your foodie needs.
- Dong Da: The district is the middle ground compares to the other 3, providing everything from sightseeing places, such as the Temple of Literature, to food and shopping, like the Thanh Cong market. Much like Ba Dinh, Dong Da is a place for those who would like to explore Hanoi in its normality.
The closer you are to Hoan Kiem district, the costlier it’ll be for a night. Despite that, Hanoi offers a large array of accommodating options, ranging from luxurious and excellent 5-star hotels, to incredibly cheap hostels/service apartments. All with very reasonable prices as well, with a night at a 5-star hotel costing around $100-$150+ or as low as $7 for a night at a hostel or motel. booking.com and hotels.com are 2 of many websites that helps with advanced bookings and offers special offers that sometimes also offers discounts, cheapening the cost of staying even further.
Those who arrive at Hanoi should expect to eat more than your average 3 meals per day in order to try out all food that Hanoi has to offer. It is highly recommended to visit street food stalls or small shops as you can enjoy a much more wider variety of cuisines there. Websites such as foody.vn or lozi.vn are normally frequented by locals to share their food experience from various shops and is good way to look for a place to eat. But for those who feared they might not have the same food preference as the locals, Tripadvisor works just as well, providing reviews from fellow travelers and expats.
A must-go market for anyone who intends to visit Hanoi would be Dong Xuan Market. Hanoi’s largest indoor market, but not stopping only there, the outside of the market is also surrounded with booths selling all-kinds of textiles/fabrics. It is also located North of the Old Quarter, giving you the option to enjoy the night life right after or go one a street food eating spree.
Another highly recommended shopping place is the Hanoi Weekend Night Market, located in the Old Quarter, not far from Dong Xuan market. Specialize in handicrafts and accessories, the Night Market is a good place for those who are still looking for souvenirs to bring back home, and itself being only a few blocks away from Dong Xuan market means that there is absolutely no reason for one not to go see both.
Shopping Malls are also very common throughout Hanoi, satisfying your brand goods shopping needs. Some of the few notable malls are Vincom Ba Trieu, Lotte and Royal City.
Phone and internet: Tourist Simcards are available for all mobile carriers with varying offers. Tourist Sims are generally okay-ish in value for those who intends to make regular calls, costing around $15-$20 a month or about $4.50 for a week. But the Sim itself only offers limited amount of Data, and some might see the included call time to be unnecessary. For the best value, I recommend using VietnamMobile’s unlimited 3G Simcard, costing you a fixed $5 and an extra $3 per month to maintain an unlimited, unthrottled internet access. (prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/Vietnam) webpage offers a comprehensive and detail guide about what type of Sim each carriers provide and how to access and unlock those options.
Money: Credit cards are slowly getting popular use in Hanoi, with many if not most restaurant accepting plastic as an option of payment. But despite that, cash is still much needed when going around the city, as ride-sharing app drivers does not accept credit card as an option and you can’t expect a old lady selling food on the street to pull out a card reader anytime in the near future.