Hanoi is a bit like Ho Chi Minh but in a cuter version. We absolutely LOVED this city, probably even more than Ho Chi Minh, even though we had to put up with the colder temperatures of the North of the country. Hanoi has a particular cool and hip vibe, where you feel that everyone is doing their own thing. The streets are full of art shops, trendy fashion boutiques, cool bars and restaurants, reminding us a bit of Soho in London. Forget the chains or the big supermarkets, in Hanoi everything is original, cool and cute! 😊
What to do in Hanoi?
Walk around and take in the vibe
Like Ho Chi Minh, the best way to get to know Hanoi is by walking around. Start wandering around in the Old Quarter (where you will probably be staying), walk towards to Long Bien bridge which was built by the French, continue direction the Ho Hoan Kiem lake where you can have a great coffee with a view at the Highlands Cafe, then continue circling the lake clockwise and make a little stop at the Ngoc Son Temple on the lake, then walk West towards the famous train street.
This is the famous street where they built houses so close to the tracks that people have to move inside when a train passes. It’s a peaceful little street until the monster train arrives with a deafening horn, warning everybody to get out of the way. It’s definitely worth the experience but make sure to stick your back against the wall when the train arrives!
Where to sleep?
Hanoi is full of small boutique hotels, where you can get a super comfy room but will pay a bit more than a hostel (count 50 USD per night here for a decent room). We recommend staying in the Old Quarter which is super fun to walk around and where most tourist are staying. There are literately LOADS of good places for around 50 USD per night.
Where to eat?
Bun Cha Dac Kim (at No. 1 Hang Manh): this place is an institution and probable the best street food we had in Vietnam so an absolute MUST! The food is prepared on a little food kart downstairs in the street, and there are tables spread out over three different floors. Order the Bun Cha, and you will receive different little plates with a variety of meat and vegetables, as well as a bowl with clear soup. The idea is that you mix or dip everything in the soup before eating – it’s delicious! Be careful to enter in the right Bun Cha, as there are copy cats popping up across the street.
Quan Phi Thin (at 13 Lo Duc) Pho number 13: renown for its delicious Pho, prepared on the spot.
Where to have a drink?
- Barstreet (Ta Hien Street): this street is literally FULL of cool bars with music, great for a night out
- Pasteur Street Brewing Co.: great for tapas and a beer, super nice atmosphere