As far as travel goes, Vietnam is generally a cheap country to explore. Hanoi, in Northern Vietnam, is one of the country’s more expensive cities due to its popularity as a vacation destination, however, it’s still easy to keep your visit to Hanoi on a budget, while staying safe and comfortable — and luckily, we’ve rounded up some tips and the best things to do in Hanoi for cheap.
The city draws a large backpacker crowd, thanks to its beautiful, French-colonial buildings, interesting museums and proximity to top travel sites such as Halong Bay and Sapa. Here’s how to visit Hanoi on a budget, from exploring the city through to where to stay:
What to do
The Old Quarter of Hanoi is a beautiful district to walk around. It’s filled with narrow, winding streets where you can spend days observing the fine, French-colonial architecture, taking pictures of the chaotic streets and marveling at the sea of motorbikes.
Head to the Hoan Kiem Lake, which is a peaceful lake located by the Old French Quarter. If you want to visit the lakeside temple of Ngoc Son, entry is under $1. The lake is known to be especially beautiful at night when it is filled with the glow of surrounding colored lights.
When you want to immerse yourself in cultural activities, there’s plenty to do in the city. One of the top budget activities is paying a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can see the embalmed body of “Uncle Ho” (as many Vietnamese call him). Entry is under $1.
Next to the mausoleum, you’ll find the Ho Chi Minh Museum, where you can find out more about the history of Vietnam, the war with America and the role of Ho Chi Minh in developing the country. Entry is also under $1.
Where to eat
Eating on a budget in Hanoi is easy. The city is packed with restaurants and street food stalls selling Vietnamese classics at cheap prices.
Order a bowl of Pho, a soup broth that’s packed with thick rice noodles and meat, try Bun Bo Nam Bo, which is Hanoi’s signature dish of noodles, beef, peanuts and onions, and eat some summer rolls, which are spring rolls wrapped in rice paper. Bun Cha, a combination of vermicelli noodles, grilled pork, and lots of greens, is another local favorite. You can grab all of these dishes for under $2-$3.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, be sure to try Egg Coffee, which is a traditional Vietnamese drink made with egg yolk, sugar, condensed milk and coffee.
Where to stay:
Hanoi is packed with hostels and hotels. While traveling as a solo woman, we know the importance of making sure your accommodation is safe, comfortable and social, all at the same time. Here are our recommendations for the best hostels:
The best area to stay is the Old Quarter, which is an area packed with backpacker hostels, bars, restaurants, tour operators and cafes with decent wifi. The area is very travel-friendly and you’ll find that plenty of locals in the surrounding restaurants and shops can speak a bit of English.
Some of the best hostels include:
See You at Lily’s is a budget hostel with a bohemian vibe. The rooms are nice and clean, and you can stay in either a dorm room or a private room. The staff is known to be helpful in arranging transportation or book a trip to the top nearby sites. It’s located in the heart of the Old Quarter.
If you’re looking for a hostel with all the home comforts, the Republik Backpacker’s Hostel is the place for you. The beds offer plenty of comfort and privacy, and come with power sockets, reading light, a personal locker and a curtain, so you can switch off when you don’t feel like socializing.
Hanoi Backpacker Hostel is the more relaxed sister hostel to the Hanoi Backpacker Hostel Downtown, which is known for its loud parties. Hanoi Backpacker Hostel is smaller in size and has a common area with a relaxed atmosphere. The dorm rooms are clean and come with lockers. It’s easy to sign up to group tours through the reception.
If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, or the backpacker crowds aren’t your thing, it might be better to stay in a hotel. Here are our picks of the top budget hotels in Hanoi:
Midori Boutique Hotel is a three-star hotel, at a great budget price. The rooms are spacious and clean, with all the amenities you need.
Hanoi Golden Holiday Hotel has nice, big rooms and is known for its comfy beds, good WiFi and great location in the Old Quarter near to all the top sights. Guests love its free breakfast.
If you’re looking for something else, you can explore all accommodation options in Hanoi, from Airbnbs through to five-star hotels.