The chaotic streets of Hanoi can be scary if you’re not used to crazy motorbikes and cars whizzing in different directions. When you step out, always watch out for motorbikes driving on walkways! Yeah, things like that happen, get used to it! Haha! Hanoi is kinda similar to Ho Chi Minh in some aspects but it’s more traditional and old school.
If you want to learn about Vietnam’s culture and visit historical destinations, then Hanoi is a perfect travel destination for you. My husband and I are both digital nomads and we decided to stay there for over a month during our six-month Southeast Asia trip. I tell you what, one month is too short. It’s not enough time to explore everything including Halong Bay! We’ll just go back there after the coronavirus pandemic.
Anyhoo, let’s get right to it!
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Here Are the Five Reasons Why You Must Visit Hanoi
1. It’s Affordable
Hanoi is cheaper than in most cities in Asia. You can explore the city with a budget of $30-35 a day. You can shop ’til you drop and get good quality clothes and shoes that’s less than the original price at the mall. I’m not talking about knock-offs either if you pay close attention to your Nike’s, you’ll see that most of it are made in Vietnam.
My mom has a friend in Vietnam who works at the Nike shoe factory. I was told they sell Nike shoes that didn’t pass the quality check on flea markets. So I encouraged my husband to go to Hang Da Market and we bought a few pairs of sneakers! It’s been over a year now and it’s still working great.
2. People are Friendly and Helpful
One thing I really like about Hanoi is that you can talk to almost anybody. Not everybody speaks English in Hanoi so I downloaded Google Translate to communicate with the locals. It’s better if you know basic Vietnamese words like “cảm ơn bạn” for thank you, “bao nhiêu” for how much, and “xin chào” for hello.
Be nice but not too friendly coz some people will take advantage of you. One street vendor overcharged me for one coconut. At that time, I was still figuring out their paper money so I just gave him what he asked for. Later on, I realized he just charged me three times the original price. LOL!
3. Impressive Architecture, History, and Charm
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, therefore they have a long history with the age-old traditional and cultural values. We stayed in the Old Quarter area and we’re impressed with the magnificent mix of eastern and western architecture. Their architectural designs were influenced by the French people.
One of my favorite places in Hanoi is the Opera House, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Long Bien Bridge, Hoan Kiem Lake, and the Old Quarter. You can also check out the temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Guom Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, West Lake, Huong Pagoda to learn more about Vietnamese history.
4. Vibrant City Life
Hanoi after sunset is vibrant, lively, and full of glitz! There are plenty of bars around Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter area where you can enjoy great music, all types of booze, and hang out with fun-loving locals and ex-pats. Bia Hoi Junction is probably the most popular street in Hanoi where people sit back on plastic stools and drink draft beer. It’s highly recommended by locals and other travelers, so check it out when you’re in Hanoi.
One thing to keep in mind though is the strict laws. Nightclubs and bars are usually close at midnight, but some remain open until the police show up. Some bars are also controlled by mobs so do your research so you won’t get in trouble.
5. The Food is Delicious
Pho!!!!! Who doesn’t like Pho? I think everybody does! Most Vietnamese foods are healthy and nutritious coz they love to put green vegetables in their recipes. Finding good food in Hanoi is the opposite of a challenge. Hawker food, restaurant food, street food, they’re everywhere and they’re all great!
My favorite Vietnamese dish is Bun Cha, you can find it anywhere in the world but the original is still the best and you can find it in Hanoi. I learned about it from my American client who goes to Vietnam once a year. He said it’s a must-try and he’s right! You’ll never go wrong with grilled pork, rice noodles, fresh herbs with papaya, chili, and garlic! Nom nom nom, it’s like heaven in my mouth! No wonder why Hanoi is the culinary capital of Vietnam!
Hanoi is truly fascinating! I recommend doing the ‘city day tour’ if you only have a few days to explore the city. It’s inexpensive and it gives you a good overview of the city. We’ll go back there for sure coz there’s a lot to see!