Hanoi is the Capital City of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which was founded in 1010, over 1000 years ago. It is the conservative heart of Northern Vietnamese culture, the home to 7.6 million people and includes 12 residential districts. The day in Hanoi revolves around the lunch time siesta.
Unlike the South, Hanoi has 4 distinct seasons.
Dry season is from November to April and monsoon season is from May to October. The hottest months are June & July, while the coldest are January and February.
TIP: Temperatures can drop to 10C but the humidity makes it feel much colder so bring a jacket!
Hanoi has its very own independent – and usually accurate – weather forecaster on Facebook too! Hanoi’s Weather Dude
There are lots of shops to buy new and genuine electronics.
Prices are generally a little more expensive than western shops and usually come with one year warranties.
There are many shops that deal in second-hand electronics but be careful as these, sometimes, are stolen goods and might break sooner than expected!
There are several big malls across Hanoi, including Aeon Mall and Vincom Centres, where you can find many familiar brands. These stores will stock more ‘conventional’ western sizes but they will also cost a little more.
You can find everything Vietnam has to offer at the local markets. Markets can be found on street corners, down alleys, and in under-cover shelters (like Châu Long – A very popular meat/produce market).
The produce available at the markets ranges from local vegetables and freshly butchered meat to dried vegetables, herbs, and spices. Prices are marked out by the kilogram, but be prepared to haggle. If you’d prefer the quick and easy convenience of a supermarket, then Fivimarts and Vinmarts are found in many locations. Here you can get things like dairy products, which are not often found at markets. At both markets and supermarkets, plastic bag usage is common so eco-warriors should bring their own.
There are many inexpensive supermarkets and convenience stores that sell groceries. For example, L’s Place specializes in imported groceries. You can find many home comforts, but they will be pricey! Or Guardian is a health and beauty shop with many western toiletry brands. Can be sometimes pricey!
Viettel, Mobifone, and Vinaphone are the top three mobile service providers in Vietnam. You can pick up SIM cards on your way out of the airport or in the Old Quarter. There are also lots of little shops that sell SIM cards. Take your passport as you will need to register it.
Viettel is military-owned and has the best country wide coverage, especially in remote areas, making it great for exploring. Mobifone is good because it has an English app you can use to manage data; plus, data seems to last longer with them.
You can get top ups from anywhere – just look for the logos on the small street shops. Viettel staff will also help you install monthly data packages on your phone.
Vinmec International, Family Medical Practice, and the French Hospital are good, but expensive; they are better for specialist ailments and have English-speaking doctors.
Thu Cúc Hospital and Hồng Ngọc Hospital are good hospitals for general problems. Their doctors are mostly Vietnamese, but they offer translators as part of their service.
Medlatec is a cheap hospital, but translators are not assured. They’re very good for getting a quick turnaround on blood tests.
These are four of the top dental clinics in Hanoi that have English-speaking staff.
A teeth cleaning costs, on average, 200,000-300,000 VND. Laser teeth whitening is around 3,000,000 VND. Tooth removal can be between 500,000 VND and 2,000,000 VND (depending on the tooth). Braces are between 30 to 40 million VND.
There are cheaper options like Thúy Đức Dental Clinic. It’s easy to shop around here, but check reviews on Facebook before getting any major work done.
Hobbies & Interests
Club and Societies
Hanoi is a great place for creative influences to run wild. There are lots of clubs and societies, so there’s something to do nearly every night.
There’s the Hanoi Photography Club for photographers, Hanoi Life Drawing Society for artists and, for musicians, open mic nights for music and spoken word are held regularly at The Snug, ClickSpace , DeN, and Hanoi Rock City. DeN also does regular movie nights showing an eclectic range of art movies, classics, and the generally obscure. There’s usually a little live music around the campfire at Hanoi Circus Community, which meets on Thursdays and Sundays, for fire poi, line walking, hula hooping, etc.
For bookworms there’s Hanoi Alleycats Book Club, which meets on Thursdays, and the green-thumbed could join Gardeners in Hanoi. If you’re really passionate about the environment, there’s Keep Hanoi Clean.
Hanoi International Women’s Club is a great way for women to get involved in giving back to the community. It’s also a great way to socialize with women that are not involved in teaching. They do have some male members, too. There are loads of charities in Hanoi to get involved in such as HSCV and Blue Dragon.
Vietnam has all the latest movies, released at the same time as (and sometimes earlier than!) your home country.
CGV Cinemas are modern and located everywhere. Tickets can be as cheap as 50,000 VND (around $2 USD).
The vast majority of movies are in English with Vietnamese subtitles. You can check online (https://www.cgv.vn/en/) – make sure the movie is ‘Viet Sub’ and not ‘Viet Dub’.
TIP: Normal cinemas can get a bit loud, so for a quieter experience, you can book a seat in Gold Class (pictured) for 300,000 VND (around $13 USD)
Gym & Sports
Gyms & sports get their own slide here because they’re such popular hobbies in Hanoi. There is a gym to fit every budget from TopGym, at the lower end of the scale, to Elite Fitness, if you want to go upmarket, and Fitness Village falls in the middle.
Yoga is also hugely popular. Although many gyms offer classes, there are also independent teachers and studios all over Hanoi – check out Om Factory and Zenith, two of the most popular studios. Popular independent teachers include Elaine Simpson & Sarah De Vries for Pilates and Yuval Miodovsky for Yoga.
If you prefer something more interesting than going to the gym, then there are plenty of other options available. Martial arts are huge in Hanoi, with gyms like PACE and Vietfighter teaching kickboxing and muay thai. Yuval Miodovsky also teaches donation based classes for Krav Maga, self defense, and other martial arts in Quang Ba Park. You can contact her through her Facebook page.
There are lots of sports clubs too, which can be found on Facebook – Hanoi Ois Netball, Hanoi Dragons Rugby Union Football Club, and Gaelic Football. If this is not your style, then you could always get your groove on with Unison Dance Studio or Salsa Hanoi. Adventurers should go to VietClimb for Hanoi’s only indoor bouldering wall.