Feature Image Credit – @popannes89
Okay, according to backpackers you’re either a lover of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. I can definitely say Hanoi was more my thing. A culture-filled city location, you really can lose time there. I spent almost two weeks just in Hanoi! There isn’t particularly much to do once you’ve attended the museums, however there is always plenty new to eat. Hanoi also forms a base for any tours to the north such as Halong Bay, Sapa, Ha Giang or Mai Chui.
Where to stay!
I was loaded with recommendations before I made it to Hanoi. With suggestions for Vietnam Backpackers Hostel’s – Downtown location and Central Backpackers, being the most popular suggestions. I commenced my stay in Hanoi at the Original Central Backpackers. Now with Vietnam Backpackers Hostel and Central Backpackers they both have an original hostel and then a sister hostel in the old quarter, I thoroughly enjoyed both locations. Out of all the hostels I stayed in Hanoi, Central Backpackers Original was definitely the best value for money. As one of the cheapest hostels in Hanoi as $7AUD a night, it has everything you’d expect out of your hostel from the general free wifi, GOOD A/C and free breakfast (bread and omelette or bread and jam +fruit) to one of the nicer bathrooms I’ve stayed at, hotel quality! Another plus side, was it wasn’t white, so I could re-dye my hair – PRIORITIES! Out of all the hostels I stayed at it was definitely the cleanest. Central Backpackers – Original is good because it can be a party hostel if you want it to be and not if you don’t want. It has a free beer hour from 7-8 and I think around 9 something they take you (free taxis) to the Central Backpackers in the old quarter for another lot of free beer and drinking in the Rooftop Bar, from then you can join the pub crawl which makes for a good night out. If you are up for a big night however, I’d suggest joining the Downtown club crawl – definitely a killer night!
I then decided to move to the Central Backpackers – Old Quarter in order for a location change. It is the same price, but the location is more central to the popular pubs and food. I really enjoyed the Old Quarter. The hostel wasn’t quite as nice with the wifi and a/c not working as well and the bathroom not quite as nice. The staff at both Central Backpackers were so lovely though, very helpful and towards the end even knew me by name!
I also stayed one night in Vietnam Backpackers Hostel – Original. This was as I booked Castaway through them (tour of Halong Bay – more details in my next post!) and didn’t fancy the idea of waking up at 5.30am and making my way to this hostel in the morning for a 6.30am departure. It was a bit dearer and the hostel itself is fairly basic. They have great drinking hours in the rooftop bar with plenty of 2-4-1 hours and a free beer hour too. The restaurant is also great, especially if you’re missing some home comfort food. I’d been dreaming of chicken parmigiana and I got to fulfill this craving here – it was pretty good too! The staff again are very helpful with everything. This hostel is great like Central Backpackers- Original where it can be a party hostel or a chill hostel depending on what you want. They move to there sister hostel – Downtown at, from memory, 9 or 10 and from there you can join the pub crawl when it leaves Downtown. Downtown’s bar is pretty full on so its a pretty great way to start the night! If you are after an epic party hostel, stay at Downtown! Personally I like to meet a few people before I hit a crazy party hostel – too many people!
What to do!
- Women’s Museum – My mate and I really enjoyed this museum. My favourite part being about the Women’s involvement in the war which in Vietnam was actually quite a large part. There are plenty of interesting parts from textiles to cooking to inventors and much more. I would definitely highly suggest checking out this museum! Super cheap at 30,000DONG for entry too.
- Hoa Lo Prison Museum – A very interesting old prison with plenty of interesting war history. 30,000DONG also.
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – The embalmed body of old leading Ho Chi Minh. Not worth lining up for but you plan it well and arrive early (8am) like we did then it is quite interesting.
- Thang Long Water Puppet Theater – Great for evening entertainment.
- Vietnam Military History Museum
Where to eat!
- In Hanoi, I made very good use of a delivery service called ‘Vietnammm‘. Now don’t be judging me and getting on your high horse, because after two months of Vietnamese food and a whole lot of rain in Hanoi I was well and truly after a bit of rest and relaxation (and western food). ANYWAY, point of the story… Order burgers from L’atelier Du Burger if you want a great burger!
- The ‘BBQ your own food’ places in Old Quarter! I mean you get to cook your own food and it tastes great. Not too dear either!
- The Moose and Roo Pub and Grill – typical western menu, with almost western prices but the burger there was absolutely amazing!
- New Day Restaurant – quality local food, generous portion sizes and relatively cheap!
- Hanoi Taco Bar – good Mexican food, small portions but we ordered lots anyway.
- Pho 10 – pretty popular for Pho – near the original central backpackers.
- Gastro Pub – expensive western food, super nice though!
- Okay so there was this alley way with AWESOME food, just off the Hàng Chiếu road (exit Central Backpackers Old Quarter to the left, first right and then walk down the road until you see an alleyway with lots of street food stalls somewhere on your right – few hundred metres). I consistently went to this little stall who did a sort of buffet (fill your plate as much as you can) style feed with loads of random unidentifiable meats, vegetables, seafood, rice and spring rolls! The first day they charged me 30,000DONG for a small plate and the next day onward I was charged 70,000DONG for either small or big plate…. Still cheap, would definitely suggest it!
Make sure to tune in next week to hear about my castaway tour of Hanoi!!!
A big thank-you to all my guest photographers this week, camera issues in Hanoi made for a fairly photo-less adventure, so very appreciative for all the help.
Travellers! Tell me your Hanoi highlights! 🙂
I hope you’ll stick around and follow me on my adventure,
The Virgin Backpacker xx
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