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. Buffalo Tours gathers 15 of the most useful tips for your trip to Hanoi, to help you explore the city the way locals do!
1. Overwelmed with the idea of crossing the road? Relax, keep your pace & follow a local!
2. The best street food eats are where the locals – especially young crowds – gather. Trust your instinct and try dishes that locals eat, not necessarily what 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’ll see the city in a different light and may possibly love it more!
4. Hanoi is famous for all kinds of noodle soups. Go beyond Pho by trying some 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. BUT everyone must try Hanoi’s most famous dish – Pho bo at least once. This noodle soup has a wide variety of beef to go with it. Two most popular types of beef for Pho bo are well done and raw. Locals usually take both in their bowls!
6. It would be folly to come to Hanoi and not try a glass of caphe nau da. Wether in a charmingly chic cafe or on the sidewalk crouched on a plastic stool, savour the famous coffee with ice and condensed milk. It’s also a local favourite for beating the heat! Be sure to venture to our Top 3 cafes spots.
7. Nothing beats a cold beer after a hot day of sightseeing. Wether a fresh glass of the daily brewed bia hoi or a tall glass Hanoi beer with a cup of ice, this pavement pasttime is a must in Hanoi, especially in the summertime!
8. Although Hanoi has a curfew, there’s plenty of fun to be had earlier in the evening! Try one of these hip clubs and mingle with Hanoi’s next generation – Lift, the Bank or Rooftop.
9. On the weekend, be sure to explore the Dong Xuan night market in the Old Quarter, for excellent shopping for local goods, clothes, nicknacks and souvenirs.
10. Need to beat the heat of the city? Head to the Vincom Center on Ba Trieu street where the 6th floor cinema plays the latest blockbusters. Mostly kept in English with Vietnamese subtitles, there are many titles to choose from. The only thing to be weary of is the local habit of chatting throughout the movie!
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 pavement! Drink coffee, eat street food, or simply gossip with friends, Hanoi is a city that comes to life on its streets. Observe this any evening around the church area, or in the Old Quarter around Ta Hien, Dao Duy Tu and Luong Ngoc Quyen street. Grab a plastic stool and see what all the fuss is about!
13. Live music is having a new surgence in Hanoi. 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 the city 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, so be sure to nab a good scarf and sweater for this time of year.