Hanoi is the place to be if you are looking for a mixture of ancient and modern. From crumbling pagodas and temples, to the action packed modern city – Hanoi has it all. Absolute Asia Tours gathers 15 of the most useful tips for your trip to Hanoi, to help you explore the city the way locals do!
1. Always wonder how you can cross the road with these crazy traffic? Just follow a local!
2. The best street food is where locals – especially the young crowds – gather. Trust your instinct and try the food where locals eat, not necessarily where your guide book says. Here is our map guide to street food locations.
3. Motorbikes are not as scary as they seem! Rent a motorbike and ride around the organised chaos of Hanoi streets, you will see Hanoi in a different light and may possibly love it more!
4. Hanoi is famous for all kinds of noodle soups. Keep in mind that Pho is not the only noodle soup out there, so try other types such as Bun ca (fish vermicelli soup), Bun thang (chicken vermicelli with different toppings), Bun rieu (crab vermicelli soup), Bun suon (spare ribs vermicelli soup), and Bun moc (meatball vermicelli soup)
5. Talking about the most famous dish of Vietnamese food – Pho bo (beef noodle soup), it also has a wide variety of beef to go with it. Two most popular types of beef for Pho bo is well done and raw. Locals usually take both in their bowls!
6. Try Hanoi coffee at a coffee shop where you see locals sit on low blue plastic chairs. Order one with ice and condensed milk called Cafe Nau Da, it’s really good especially in the Hanoi heat! Check out our Top 3 cafes spots.
7. Ever had beer with ice? Well that’s how Vietnamese people drink beer! See our blog about Hanoi beer
8. Heard of boring nightlife in Hanoi? Although bars and clubs close at 12 midnight, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun earlier! Try one of these hip clubs and mingle with Hanoi’s next generation – Lift, the Bank or Rooftop.
9. In the weekend, Dong Xuan night market in the Old Quarter is a great place for shopping for local goods.
10. Vincom Center in Ba Trieu street has a pretty cool cinema on the 6th floor where the latest blockbuster movies are shown. They are all with Vietnamese subtitles so you can enjoy watching them in English. If you are with two, try couple seats tickets, the chairs are really comfortable!
11. Tired of walking around the busy Old Quarter streets because of too much traffic? Head towards the other side of Hoan Kiem Lake to Hang Bai or Ba Trieu street. This is the French quarter where you’ll find random boutique shops, good local restaurants and hip cafe’s along the way. It is much more relaxed to walk around!
12. Young Hanoians like to do everything on the pavements! Either it’s drinking coffee, eating street food, or simply gossiping with friends. You can observe this every evening around the church area, or in the Old Quarter around Ta Hien, Dao Duy Tu and Luong Ngoc Quyen street. We call it “pavement culture”, so why not join us?
13. Live music is becoming more and more popular these days. Want to listen to Vietnamese live bands performing at a local cafe? There are a few spots worth a visit – Ay cafe at Hang Bun street or Swing Lounge at Trang Tien street.
14. Heading somewhere further than the Old Quarter and tired of walking? Get a taxi that belongs to one of these reliable companies: Mai Linh, Taxi Group, Thanh Nga, Thanh Cong. It’s not guaranteed the taxi driver can speak English, so write down the address and give it to the driver. Always make sure the meter is on!
15. Don’t underestimate the winter in Hanoi. If you are travelling to Hanoi around January, February or March, it could get under 10 degrees Celsius and it IS cold! There is no central heating system here so you will feel much colder. Pack winter clothes and stay warm!
Let our local travel experts in Hanoi take you around to explore the capital the unique way. Check out our Hanoi day trips collection, or simply Request a customize tour that fits your own interest!
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