Whilst I may seem to have a preference for reviewing of shitty cities, with Yongzhou and Cao Bang being great cases in point, every now and again it’s nice to review nice cities. Hanoi is a place I didn’t much like at first, in fact I’d have called it a shitty city, but whilst it make lack the glitz and glamour of Hanoi, scratch beneath the surface and Hanoi has got it going on!
Here’s the ultimate YPT guide to hanging out in Hanoi.
HOW TO GET TO HANOI?
Flying in Vietnam is cheap as hell, and there are also lots of international direct flights to Hanoi, although much less than to tourist meccas like Saigon, or Nha Trang.
Alternatively, there’s the gold old train, with Hue being 15 hours away, Hue 7 hours, and internationally Nanning in China being 24 hours away. The Beijing to Vietnam train seems to be a myth.
ACCOMMODATION IN HANOI
One of the best things about Vietnam is just how cheap good accommodation is, and Hanoi has some great choices. For the best options head to the old town (which is the party district), with private rooms being $20-25, with dorms costing just a few dollars.
WHAT TO SEE IN HANOI
Uncle Ho! You can see the mausoleum of Uncle Ho Chi Minh! Actually, you can see lots of cool communist crap like the Hanoi Hilton where the late John McCain lived. And there’s street food and drinks in the old town.
WHAT TO EAT?
Colonialism might have its critics, but in defense of it, it does mean that Vietnamese food contains butter! Even street food. And street food is where it’s at in Hanoi, with my favorite being meat cooked in butter. We really aren’t reinventing the wheel. For the best Hanoi Street Food, head to the old town.
NIGHTLIFE OF HANOI?
In the old town, they have street BBQ with street cocktails and beer for $.00.10 USD. You can’t really argue with that. Hanoi also has its hipster scene and I was lucky enough to be taken to the Ne Bar, which offered Vietnamese food themed cocktails. I embraced me a couple of glasses of pho.
The old town also offers a few nightclubs frequented by ladies that are happy to escort you home (they even drive).
IS IT WORTH VISITING HANOI?
Hanoi is often the afterthought when it comes to traveling to Vietnam but that’s really not fair. Its got its own flavor.
GETTING OUT OF HANOI?
Keep in mind that the airport out of Hanoi is not really in Hanoi but pretty much in the countryside. Internal flights are cheap as hell though. It’s kinda cool to stay by the airport before you leave.
North of Hanoi Cao Bang is just a few hours from Hanoi and is very non-touristy.
If you’re a train geek, then there’s the international train to Nanning in China.