If you’re traveling to Vietnam, take this opportunity to visit Hanoi. Discover where to stay in Hanoi!
Known as “the city between rivers”, Vietnam’s capital is located in the north of the country, in the Red River delta. While Hanoi’s urban area has 2.6 million inhabitants, approximately 7 million people live in the greater metropolitan area. Hanoi is, therefore, a sprawling megalopolis (3,328.9 km²), the second most populated in Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh City. Founded in 1010, Hanoi was the political capital of the country until 1802 and it was the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954 while the country was administered by France. A stopover town to see Halong Bay, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, it has experienced rapid economic and demographic development during the 20th century. As is often the case in Southeast Asia, accommodation offers are plentiful. You won’t have trouble finding a place to stay in Hanoi. From apartments, modern and traditional houses, guesthouses, to the city’s wide range of hotels, there are lodgings for all budgets.
Hanoi is subdivided into four major districts, but as is often the case in major cities, we recommend that you stay in the city center. Here is our selection of the best areas to stay in Hanoi.
The Old Town, Hoan Kiem
Bordered by the Red River, the Hoan Kiem district can be easily visited on foot. Named after the lake of the same name, the Old Town is sometimes dubbed “36 streets” although the area features more than just 36 streets. The nickname probably goes back to the 15th century when there might have been 36 guild locations, which were workshop areas, not streets. When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied to the streets. Indeed, each street corresponds to a profession, for example, ironwork, textiles, footwear, furniture, or confectionery and wedding gifts. This bustling neighborhood is the very heart of the city and in our opinion the best place to stay in Hanoi!
Hoan Kiem is home to most of the city’s public and financial institutions: featuring numerous skyscrapers growing like mushrooms, it also offers many tourist attractions such as the Ngoc Son Temple, the Hanoi Opera House, the National Museum of Vietnamese History or the Puppet Theatre on the Water. And of course, the area is replete with hotels, handicraft shops selling a myriad of souvenirs (silk and jewelry), as well as excellent bars and restaurants to have a good time. Hanoi’s Old Town is packed with Western European, Australian and American tourists. In Hoan Kiem, even crossing the boulevards is a tremendously challenging experience!
Ba Dinh, the political center of Vietnam, is one of Hanoi’s quietest and most authentic districts. It is located south of Lake Ho Tay and Lake Truc Bach. The area is home to the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long – also known as Hanoi Citadel – where you can admire the city’s last historic fortifications. Ba Dinh also houses the Presidential Palace, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the headquarters of the Vietnamese Communist Party, and many historic buildings from the French colonial era. If you choose this area to stay in Hanoi, be sure to visit the lush botanical garden and discover the many temples in the area.
North of Lake Ho Tay, the Tay Ho quarter is particularly favored by expatriates. Lake Ho Tay – which means “western lake” – is emblematic of the city of Hanoi. The lake is the neighborhood’s favorite haunt and meeting point for local residents. Set in the middle of the city, Lake Ho Tay extends over 500 hectares and measures more than 14 kilometers in circumference.
While strolling the area, make sure you visit the Tran Quoc pagoda, built in the 6th century, – one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, built in the Buddhist tradition -, as well as the Van Nien pagoda and the Sai pagoda. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Hanoi that is not very touristy, you’ve come to the right place! During the day, rent a pedal boat to visit the city from a different point of view.
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