If you’ve never traveled to Vietnam before and are somewhat afraid to travel to a third world country, let me start by saying there’s really nothing to be afraid of! This was my third time back to Vietnam, but a first for traveling to Hanoi. It’s also a memorable experience, as I had 3 other fellow travelers with me, and it was their very first time in Vietnam!
We arrived to Hanoi after spending three days in Hong Kong, and it was definitely a change in scenery and landscape. For any future travelers planning to visit, I recommend you get your Visa before arriving, as my friend was lucky to manage to get her Visa fairly quickly; but I definitely observed other travelers getting their fair share of wait time at Noi Bai International Airport. We exited and grabbed an Uber ride to our hotel in the Hoan Kiem Lake District. While in our Uber, my friends remarked how it finally felt like they were in another world compared to Hong Kong’s modern cityscape.
For any future travelers planning to visit, I recommend you get your Visa before arriving, as my friend was lucky to manage to get her Visa fairly quickly
My friends and I stayed at The Lapis Hotel in Hanoi for only one night and I wish we had booked it for our entire stay in Hanoi! This hotel was amazing and pictures on hotel travel sites don’t really do it much justice. Very clean and modern, with a rooftop pool, not to mention spa and workout room also. They also have a mini bar in their hotel lobby and is a quiet area to enjoy a drink or two. I highly recommend booking this hotel for your Hanoi trip.
Eateries recommended in Hanoi
Xôi is a common on-the-go breakfast plate in Vietnamese culture and Xoi Yen in Hanoi makes some of the perfect savory versions of this Vietnamese staple. It might be a heavy dish for some people, but well worth the morning taste bud wake up call the dish provides! We ate at Xôi Yến, which is on the decent price ranging from 35,000 to 45,000 VND per dish, and has a great atmosphere located on a corner street.
Location: 35B Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Banh Mi is another staple in Vietnamese culture, which consists of a french baguette filled with different meats and fermented veggies such as carrots and daikons. It drives me insane with all the hipsters calling everything Banh Mi just because they put fermented carrots and daikons along with meat on their food, but Banh Mi translates into sandwich in Vietnamese. Enough about my venting though.
We stopped by Banh Mi 25, a street cart that sells banh mi, and grabbed a few for lunch at an amazingly cheap price and great tasting! Their prices ranged from 15,000 to 25,000 VND per sandwich.
Location: 25 Hàng Cá, Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
This last recommendation I have is, of course, a pho shop located down the alleyway at Trung Yen Street. We actually came here for breakfast at 5am as we were grabbing a limo bus to Ha Long Bay (another story coming soon) in the early morning, and decided to grab breakfast. We were probably their first customer of the day at 5am and the owner happily greeted us and even gave us a big table to sit at. Pho is traditionally a northern Vietnamese dish. This place had amazingly fresh rice noodles, probably hand rolled by the owners or something, and the meat tasted freshly carved or something and cooked to perfection!
Location: 24B Ngõ Trung Yên, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam opens from 5–11AM, 4:30–9:30PM
Nightlife in Hanoi
We managed to find our way to Southeast Asia’s very first official Playboy establishment, Playboy Establishment Hanoi. A friend managed to reserve a table for my group of friends and I, on a Tuesday evening, and it was fairly quiet but definitely entertaining nonetheless. This is an official Playboy licensed establishment, and I had the pleasure to meet the owner. They provide bottle service and sheesha (hookah), along with cabaret performances and bunnies to hangout with all evening. It is fairly hidden, on the basement floor of the hotel but worth the effort to checkout.
Location: 136 Hàng Trống, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Hanoi, Vietnam
We managed to find our way to Southeast Asia’s very first official Playboy establishment, Playboy Establishment Hanoi
My friend and I were looking for a place to grab a beer and some music, maybe along with some sheesha, which has become a big thing in Vietnam and was recommended to head to Hero Bar. It was a very interesting underground bar, filled with many expats and tourists. The vibe was loud and very Hollywood-esque. The DJs play a good mix and definitely worth scoping out for a night out of town in Hanoi!
Location: Trúc Bạch Ba Đình Vietnam, 42 Yên Phụ, Trúc Bạch, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Hanoi has a special place in my heart after experiencing many aspects of the city, from dining, hotels and even their night life was an energetic vibe! I will say that this is a must visit city in Vietnam, and it’s also your gateway into Ha Long Bay, which I will continue on another post in the future.