Hanoi Is the Best City in SE Asia And Here Is Why

Hanoi was our absolute favourite city, not just in Vietnam, but in the whole of South East Asia. We just spent 3 Months in South East Asia and out of Bangkok, Krabi, Singapore, Manila, Puerto Princessa, Saigon, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap, Hanoi stands out as the best, but why? Honestly, it comes down to two main reasons:

1. The Art

Our impression of Hanoi was that it was a mixture of China and France (which makes sense seeing as it was occupied by the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1408, and the French in 1873).

Everywhere you look in Hanoi there is some kind of beautiful artwork: giant paintings, ornate trinkets, soft silk scarves, impressive graffiti, even the buildings are wonderful:

Hanoi is the first place we've been to where we strongly considered finding a country to settling down in, just so we could buy all the cushions, curtains and artwork and fill our house from top to toe. We even thought about finding a place in Hanoi, but it's too damp.

2. The Food

The second (and biggest reason) we loved Hanoi was its food: Like the art, the Chinese and French influences really shone through in the food, which is divine. Thailand and Cambodia are (quite rightly) known for having yummy Asian food, but after a while it can get a little repetitive: curry, noodles, pancakes, coconuts.

It was such a welcome respite to have some variety and, more importantly, some bread! Vietnamese food was our favourite food in South East Asia. Here are some dishes you simply must try:


Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup generally made with beef. It's divine: it tastes refreshing, healthy and it's very filling.

Bahn Mi

Bahn Mi will be one of the best sandwiches you ever try. The bread is usually a baguette made of both rice and wheat flour (again, Chinese and French influences), and the filling is generally meat, vegetables and chilli.

Egg Coffee

Egg Coffee is made with, you guessed it, eggs. The coffee is prepared with egg yolks, sugar and condensed milk. Coffee snobs (like me) and coffee haters (like Tanbay), alike will love this drink!

Vietnam actually exports a lot of coffee and is very proud of it. They offer lots of different types alongside the egg coffee, including the weasel coffee (coffee made from beans that have passed through a weasel)! We of course tried it, but didn't find out until afterwards that this is actually a really mean thing to do to weasels and shouldn't be done, which is a pity as it tastes amazing.

Sure, you will eat in Hanoi, and you will eat well, but don't stop at just three meals a day, take it a step further and make your entire day about eating! Here are a few food related tours in Hanoi:

Hanoi Street Food Tour

Voted #1 of 130 Food and Drink in Hanoi, Hanoi Street Food Tour lets you eat and drink like a true Hanoian. In this tour, you are led round the streets of Hanoi by a local guide, and get to try many tasty, traditional Vietnamese dishes including: Bun Cha, Bahn Mi, Vietnamese pancakes, egg coffee and even a Hanoian draft beer. Check out our full review of Hanoi Street Food Tour here.

To book your tour, head over to Viator. You can read more here: Authentic Things To Do In Hanoi.

Home Cooking Class With Vietnam Awesome Travel

Taking part in a home cooking class with Vietnam Awesome Travel (prices are from $35 per person) was actually our favourite part of our travels to Vietnam. This is an authentic adventure which involves cycling to a local market to barter for food, preparing and cooking Vietnamese food and then settling down to enjoy your creations.

You can check out our full review of Vietnam Awesome Travel here. To book your tour, head over to Viator | Vietnam Awesome Travel.

Where to Stay In Hanoi

Hanoi Serenity Hotel 2

We were pleasantly surprised by our stay at Hanoi Serenity Hotel 2, the location is fantastic - within walking distance of everything you need, the wifi is super fast and the breakfast was one of the best we had in SE Asia.

The rooms are kind of damp, but as far as we can tell this is a given with any room in Hanoi. Prices were from £15.40 for a Superior. For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Viator.

AirBnB in Hanoi

Although we didn't use AirBnB in Hanoi, we have used it numerous times in Asia and Europe, including in Saigon, and we've always had a great time.

AirBnB is particularly great for people who've been on the road for a while and want to use a kitchen and a washing machine! Prices are from £8 for a shared room in Hanoi.

VATC Sleep Pod Terminal

If you've got an early flight to catch from Hanoi Airport (or like us are landing from a super late one), we recommend staying at VATC Sleep Pod (prices are from £20 per pod). Initially we really regretted that we'd booked a room: these pods are near impossible to find as there is no sign (though once you know it's on the third floor it's easy), AND the staff were pretty inept, nowhere to be seen (actually found sleeping in one of the pods), with no idea we'd booked online. When we got there Hanoi Airport was empty, with lots of empty benches to sleep on, for free, initially we wished we'd just broken our 'don't sleep in airports' rule and slept in the airport.

So why am I recommending it? Because WE SAW A RAT IN HANOI AIRPORT. A big fat squeaky rat. EUGH!! So we were glad that we were safe in a pod. AND once we'd finally found the pods and finally been let into one, we got a good night's sleep: the beds are comfy, the wifi is fast and they even supply water and cakes. For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Viator.

Do you need a visa for Vietnam?

If you're like us (from the UK or Germany) you can stay in Vietnam for 15 days without a visa, but if you're from most other countries (like the USA and Ireland) OR if you'd like to stay longer, you will need a Vietnam Visa.

Wrap Up: Why We Loved Hanoi

There are so many things to do in Vietnam! Sadly our trip there was too short to do too much, but luckily our good friend Janet from Journalist on the Run has a list of 50 Unique Things To Do in Vietnam. Check it out!

The only thing we wish we could change about Hanoi is the amount of time we spent there. It was so pretty and the food was so delicious, we could have easily spent four weeks there, not four days. We hope you've enjoyed this post and it's been useful, if it has please share it on social media (sharing is caring).

In addition to being travel bloggers, we are also YouTubers! We make daily YouTube videos on our channel: Travelling Weasels. Here is our playlist of our time in Hanoi, starting with the journey up from Saigon:

Over to you: Have you been to Hanoi? Did you love it or loathe it? Tell us why in the comments below!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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