Ha Noi
Updated: Jan2013
What a city and what a roller-coaster ride of history, culture, taste, night-life and more to come! No trip to Vietnam is complete unless you've visited Ha Noi. Enjoy!

Most accommodation is located in the Old Quarter north of Hoan Kiem Lake and for good reason. Staying here puts you in the middle of the night-life and walking distance to most of the major attractions in Ha Noi. Simply walking the streets and taking the sights is worth a day or two in itself. The bamboo shop with towering poles, the metal-workers street, the electrical repair shops, the food stalls, the market….. and more.

We’re listed just 3 places which sort of triangulates the area of the hotels. In addition, though we’re listing the backpacker accommodation, this is not the cheapest option in town – for the same price as a bed in a dorm you’ll be able to find a twin room with similar facilities to Hanoi Memory Hotel.

     Hanoi Memory Hotel
Address: 19 Bat Dan
Prices from: Twin/ Double $10
Includes: En-suite, fan, hot-water, TV, fridge, breakfast, Wi-Fi
Tel: +84 439 233 350 Email: hanoimemoryhotel@gmail.com Web: www.hanoimemoryhotel.com
Although we read on TripAdvisor a negative report about the “pushy staff” in the reception area, trying to sell you trips, we didn’t suffer any of this. We used Hanoi Memory Hotel as a return base for visiting Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh and Sa Pa. If we found any trips elsewhere, such as Ha Long Bay, they price matched it for us. Helpful staff and always happy to take our return booking. Upgrade to AC for +$2

     Thuy Hga Guesthouse
Address: 10d P Dinh Leit
Prices from: $12
Includes: En-suite, fan, TV, fridge
Tel: 3826 6053 Email: ThuyNgaHotel@hotmail.com
This homely place is to the west of the lake and thus a little closer to the major tourist sites but further form the main eating/ drinking area.

      Hanoi Backpackers Hostel
Address: 9 Ma May
Prices from: Dorm $7.50, twin/ double $25, triple $30 
Includes: Unavailable to confirm.
Tel: 3828 5372 Web: www.hanoibackpackershostel.com
With a large Aussie bar downstairs and well-arranged dorms this is a popular place to head to for backpackers. But as we’ve already mentioned, the accommodation is more expensive than the hotels in the area. There bar prices are much more than anyone in the neighbourhood and if you book a trip with them expect to pay twice as much as any of the local tourist companies. Really is there any need to take advantage on such a large scale? Nice bar, nice set-up and doing their best to make it a party scene (Bavarian Drinking Nights?) but? They do have good maps though, so worth popping in and exploiting them in return!

Eating and Drinking
There are so many places to choose from. Google “food Hanoi” and you’ll find quite a few sites telling you about the local specialities and best restaurants. For us, take in the advice with the street food but from there it’s just a case of shopping around for good food. It really is a bit hit and miss if you’re going to international cuisine and some places price themselves for that market.

There are quite a few Bia hoi’s in Ha Noi. Outside Hanoi Backpackers Hostel you’ll find a lady selling beer for just 4,000d and if you’re staying elsewhere it’s a great little place to meet fellow travellers. Over towards Bat Dan there are junctions and larger local bars. Ask for the price first and always raise your eyebrows (now you know that you can pay just 4,000d a beer). They will try and price it up at some places if they think they can get away with it. Either way, well worth a visit.

Follow the link to a more in-depth guide that a local student told us about. And when it comes to drinking who should know better?

For street food, you will not go wrong following the advice in this picture blog with address and great descriptions. We used it as a daily task each time we returned to Ha Noi.

Pick-up is generally more than drop-off. The airport is a good distance out of town so expect to negotiate between $12 & $15. Hanoi Backpackers will collect you for $23

Bus Prices and information
Bus stations are outside of town and taking a taxi into town will be expensive. Please watch out for the 500,000d scam where they give you back a 20,000d telling you that you’ve given them a small note. They are very similar. The local buses are ok and the ticket collector will tell you where to get off of the bus. Each bus station has at least one bus that goes into the Old Quarter so simply ask. Generally around 4,000d per person.

There’s a lot to see in Ha Noi so if you’re on a short time-scale, read up on first.

Dong Xuan Market
If you’re new to Vietnam then the market is well worth a visit. Located to the north of the Old Quarter there’s plenty to see.

Hoan Kiem Lake
According to the legend, emperor Lê Lợi was boating on the lake when his magic sword, Heaven's Will, was grabbed by a turtle who quickly disappeared into the depths. All attempts to find either the sword or the turtle failed. Lợi concluded that the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) had come to reclaim the sword that it had given Lợi sometime earlier, during his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty. Lợi renamed the lake to commemorate this event, it was formerly known as Luc Thuy meaning "Green Water"). The Turtle Tower (Thap Rùa) standing on a small island near the centre of lake is linked to the legend.

You’ll see a lot of locals walking around here in the morning and it is a nice spot to people watch.

Ngoc Son Temple
Admission: 10,000d
Address: Hoan Kiem Lake
Near the northern shore of the Hoan Kiem lake lies Jade Island on which the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple) stands. The temple was erected in the 18th century. It honors the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in the fight against the Yuan Dynasty, Van Xuong, a scholar, and Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master and famous writer in charge of repairs made to the temple in 1864. Jade Island is connected to the shore by the wooden red-painted The Huc Bridge (The Huc, meaning Morning Sunlight Bridge).

Bach Ma Temple
Address: P Hang Buom/P Hang Giay 
We like to only list places that we, or contributing travellers, have visited. Bach Ma Temple is high on the list of sites for most travel guides. We spent a long time trying to find it and then it was closed. Hmmm. If you get there and like it, then let us know!

Hoa Lo Prison Museum
Address:P Hoa Lo/ P Hai Ba Trung 
The prison has the nickname of the “Hanoi Hilton” much to the annoyance of some of the wealthier travellers that end up here in their taxi rather than their hotel! Well set out although some of the displays are clearly influenced by the government (pictures showing US prisoners from the Vietnam War eating Christmas dinner?) it does give you a good idea of the conditions and the history of the region. Worth the visit.

St Joseph Cathedral
Address: P Nha Tho
Admission: Free
Along our “Gastro-street-food” route, you’ll come across the cathedral. Imposing and looking out of place at the same time? 

Temple of Literature
Address: P Quoc Tu Giam
Admission: 10,000d
A well preserved temple with several sections It’s very easy to spend a few hours walking around the temple taking in the information from the displays.

Vietnam Military History Museum
Address: P Dien Bien Phu
Admission: 20,000d
For Vietnamese standards, this is a good museum. Most only show news cuttings but this goes back a little bit more. So if Ha Noi is the start or end of your journey, it’s worth popping in. For more information visit www.btlsqsvn.org.vn

Ha Noi Ancient Citadel
Address: P Nguyen Tri Phuong
Admission: free
Although not listed in the latest travel guides (not sure how you miss it, with it being so close the Military Museum?) this is well worth a short visit. This Citadel is located in a large space, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. It was ranked 'Historical National Culture' in 1999 and now in the center of Hanoi, Ba Dinh district. Hanoi Ancient Citadel and monuments located in the ancient region, has over 10 centuries.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex
Address: P Ngoc Ha/ P Doi Can
Complex is the right word! If you don’t walk the right way (anti-clockwise) around this area, the soldiers will stop you and send you back the way you came. Get to the wrong gate, and they’ll again just send you back the way you came. The best way to explore this area is to start outside the mausoleum on Ba Dinh Square. To enter the mausoleum you need to arrive early in the morning. The head to the right-hand side of the square (facing the Mausoleum) and you’ll arrive at the gates to the Presidential Palace (admission 15,000d). A walk through the grounds brings you to Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House and by the lake with thousands of cat-fish. As you exit follow the signs on to the One Pillar Pagoda. This is actually a copy of the original that the French destroyed in 1945 when they were ousted by the Vietnamese. If you’re looking for a guide to take you around, this is the place to head to first. From here you can head east towards the Ho Chi Min Museum. The Botanical gardens (housing a few monkeys in extremely poor conditions) is a short walk as well as the oh so confusing B-52 lake. If you really want to see it, then check out our map – but it really isn’t worth the walk.

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Our Chosen Charities.

There are no charges for receiving information on this site, because this is about sharing the latest information and not making money. That said, please take the time to look at some of the charities that we've highlighted beneath, and if you want to "pay" for the information you've downloaded, then look into some of these worthy causes.
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SOS Children provides children with a home, a family and a new mother in a purpose-built SOS Children's Village, where they can stay until they are ready for independent life. 
SOS Children currently cares for 1,952 children in Vietnam at its 13 SOS Children's Villages throughout the country, and a further 272 youths at its 10 SOS Youth Homes, where young adults go to prepare for independence. [more].

Endangered Primate Rescue Centre. EPRC rescue and take-in primates that from around Vietnam as well as running an education/ visiting centre to help locals and foreigners understand these magnificent creatures. The aim is to rehabilitate the rescued primates and release them back into the wild where they belong. Volunteering at the EPRC gives you a unique opportunity to directly help endangered wildlife whilst sampling the highly cultured and welcoming country of Vietnam. You too could soon be near to the rarest primate in the world during the day and then enjoy some tasty cuisine (and possibly a ‘Bia Hoi’ or 2in the evenings with a not so rare primate species. [more]

MilkCare Foundation Until economic reforms in 1986, the Vietnamese government provided free schooling. Now, students must pay for "public" schooling in addition to other expenses such as school maintenance fees, textbooks, school uniforms. With an annual per capita income of less than $150 (US dollars) in rural areas, many families simply cannot afford to send their children to school. For these children--some abandoned and homeless--even basic nutrition and education remain only a dream. [more]

Vets With A Mission is a group of Vietnam veterans and non-veterans who are dedicated to bringing healing, reconciliation and renewal to the people of Vietnam. We run many different projects from volunteering to donating and fund raising. Please visit us for [more] information.

Mine Awareness Group

We work with conflict-affected communities to identify their needs, removing land mines and unexploded ordnance, and helping those people in contaminated areas to live more safely. [more]

More links to charities in Vietnam can be found [here]

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