The ancient capital of Vietnam - Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi – an ancient capital of Vietnam. It is a particularly interesting city to explore on foot – the mix of French and Chinese architecture, amazing street food, local vendors and ancient pagodas will make sure you  sleep  well at night. The two main areas worth mentioning are the Old Quarter and the French Quarter, about 15 minutes walk apart.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - a resting place of Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.

Where to stay in Hanoi

There are three main areas in Hanoi worth considering when deciding where to stay. To make the most out of your time there you have to consider your budget and what you are looking to do in this amazing city. Each district offers unique opportunities to explore Vietnamese culture, do some shopping and experience best nightlife spots.

Staying in Hoan Kiem (Hanoi City Centre)

This is our favorite area to stay in Hanoi and it’s where many attractions such as Hanoi Opera House and Ngoc Son Temple are located. From there, you can easily walk to the Hanoi Old Quarter dotted with Buddhist temples, colonial buildings and street markets. That’s where you will also find the famous Ta Hien Beer Street  – a neighbourhood (or a street to be more exact) filled with beer stands and bars where locals and foreigners alike sit around on small plastic stools and swap stories with a famous Hanoi beer in their hands. 

If you walk to the opposite direction (south) from Hoan Kiem, you will end up in the French Quarter – a more upmarket area where luxury hotels, embassies and upscale shopping are located.

Accomodation options in Hoan Kiem range from cheap hostels in the Old Quarter to the more expensive boutique hotels in the French Quarter. Just remember, the area can get pretty busy and that is the price you have to pay if you want to be in the center of all the action.

Staying in Ba Dinh area

Another great area to consider in Hanoi is Ba Dinh district, located west of Hanoi Old Quarter. It is a great base to explore cultural sites the city has to offer. Here you will find Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Temple of Literature and Presidential Palace. It is a much more relaxed area than Hoan Kiem – here you can take a stroll through Hanoi Botanical Gardens and enjoy a coffee at the local cafe. There are plenty of mid-range accommodation options in Ba Dinh, but don’t expect a busy nightlife or plenty of shopping. 

Staying in Tay Ho area

If it’s your first time in Vietnam or Asia, then staying in Tay Ho (West Lake) area might be a good way to ease into a hectic way of local life. A more relaxed district around the lake is dotted with trendy restaurants and cafes and it is one of the favorite places to live for expats. If you are staying there, make sure to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda and see taoist Quan Thanh Temple.

The "must see" places in Hanoi - St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi Opera House and a Statue of Emperor Ly Thai To - founder of the Ly dynasty of Vietnam.
Ba Dình Square, Hanoi
Ba Dình Square - where president Ho Chi Minh read the Vietnam Independence Declaration on September 2, 1945.
Hanoi, Vietnam
A conversation between the groundskeeper and a security.
Streetfood in Hanoi
Street food and beer on Ta Hien Beer Street in Hanoi. It is some of the best and cheapest food we ever had.
Pho Bo in Hanoi
Pho is Hanoi is like pizza in Naples. It is the best you are ever going to try and it is everywhere.
Traffic in Hanoi is a bit crazy and can be intimidating at first. However crossing a street is easier than it looks - just walk slow and steady and the scooters will go around you.
Hanoi Bike Tuk Tuk
Bike Tuk Tuk is an interesting way to do some sightseeing, but nothing beats walking.
Decadent historic buildings in Hanoi
Decadent historic buildings remind us of the Chinese influence.
Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
Graduation celebration at the Temple of Literature
No hats, no shoes celebration.
Graduation celebration at the Temple of Literature
Graduation selfie is a must.
Student Festival in Hanoi
Student Festival in Hanoi is a big deal.
Ha Long Bay
Hanoi is also a great base to visit Ha Long Bay - it is only 3 hour bus ride away.
Vegetable stand
Vegetable stand.
Hoan Kiem Lake at night
Hoan Kiem Lake at night.