Where to stay in Hanoi with video and comparative table
It has been such a long time since I wanted to make a video on where to stay in Hanoi with the best areas to spend a few days
On one of my last trips, I was finally able to do it and, moreover, I was able to update this guide once again with the latest information.
Even better, I decided to include a quick reference table that compares all the best areas of Hanoi. This will make the decision process so much easier and faster. And I made a video too. Really all you need.
As you can expect from a big city, there are many neighbourhoods and they all differ in style and service.
A few areas work great for couples, others for families, for singles or for the best nightlife in Vietnam
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Where to stay in Hanoi – in a nutshell
Here below is a table where I quickly compare all the best areas to stay in Hanoi.
For each area, I have rated from 1 (low) to 5 (high) a few features like Public Transportation, Bars & Restaurants, Nightlife, etc.
do not stay
Keep reading for more info on the areas to stay, the difference between them, the best places to eat, have a coffee or a drink, including the top street food.
Here is the video I did on my last trip with the best areas to stay.
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Old Hanoi for First Time/Short Stay 🏩 Impressive Hotel is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: Bars/Restaurants, nightlife, practical for a short stay
- 👎 Cons: Chaotic and noisy, very popular area
- 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Hanoi Night Market, Apron Up Restaurant, Gourmet Corner
The Old Quarter is located north of the Hoan Kiem area and the Hoan Kiem Lake.
It’s the most touristy area of Hanoi, where you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes and accommodations, especially on the cheap side of the range.
It’s a beautiful maze of lanes and alleys with a bunch of larger streets.
Cars tend not to venture too much in the lanes however scooters are literally everywhere.
It can be quite chaotic and noisy too and in this respect, I would absolutely suggest visiting the Old Quarter both in the day and in the night, however, if you are after a relaxing and quiet sleep night then probably this area is not the best.
In saying that, you can still find hidden lanes and small streets that become much quieter at night (be selective)
If you have just a short stay (1 to 3/4 days) then the Old Quarter has to be.
This is the most interesting part of Hanoi with local people still working in the streets, welding and hammering, and shops selling everything you need, including birdcages (just in case you are after some bulky stuff).
It’s almost like a village in a city and surely one of the best places to stay and visit in Vietnam.
Surely you will see and meet lots of tourists, and this can be a good thing if you are after a great night out. In fact, nightlife in Hanoi is not as good as in Ho Chi Minh City, but still plenty of fun.
It can be less so if you want to feel part of the local life and in this case, you probably want to book your accommodation elsewhere.
You almost have the feeling there are more hotels than houses in this Old Quarter of Hanoi.
There are some great options though. It’s also cheaper than in other parts of the city.
But be prepared that in most of the hotels, it can be noisy. Be sure to have earplugs with you. Or select the right street and the right hotel. Be very selective.
I once booked on a rush a hotel right in the centre of the Old Quarter. It was a Friday night. I could hear the noise outside my closed window even with earplugs. So noisy!
The Impressive Hotel is my favourite in the Old Quarter. It is located on a super quiet street on the side of the Cathedral.
The room facing the street has a nice little balcony and double glazed for the noise, which is quite unique in Hanoi. The back rooms are very quiet too, although they do not have a balcony.
The breakfast is absolutely a must, a la carte and with a buffet. Really a perfect start to the day. The service is 5-star, absolutely great.
If you are looking for a hotel in the Old Quarter with a swimming pool then I would probably suggest checking the Sofitel Legend Metropole.
It’s technically speaking in the French Quarter, however, less than 10 minutes walking from the Old Quarter core. It’s a beautiful old-style building with one of the best retro designs and services in Hanoi.
As you may have noticed, there are no hotels in the Old Quarter with a swimming pool. You usually need to stay in the French Quarter (a more expensive option) or north, almost in the Truc Bach area. Budget in a 10-20 minute walk.
Shopping, the night market and food in the Old Quarter
You can find replica clothes, shoes, bags etc literally everywhere in the Old Quarter.
Be aware that the famous Dong Xuan market is mostly dedicated to wholesalers and they do not sell to the public. In saying that it’s a great place to wander around and surely for photography.
The Hanoi Night Market is also a great place for shopping, a drink and some food. There is a mix of local and tourist crowds.
Bargaining is a must, similar to Thailand if you are used to it. Start with 40-50% less than asked and meet somewhere in the middle. The sellers are used to that and it can be actually good fun when done with a smile and a laugh.
The Apron Up Restaurant is a good spot for dinner. They also have cooking classes in case you are interested in improving your Vietnamese skills 🙂
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Hanoi for a boutique stay 🏩 Sofitel Legend Metropole is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: Lovely architecture all around, boutique cafes and restaurants, perfect for romantic couples, green
- 👎 Cons: Expensive, lack of Vietnamese style and design
- 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Club Opera Novel, Pizza 4P’s
Once you enter the French Quarter you may think you are suddenly in Paris.
The area has wider streets and more green areas, besides some grand villas.
It is an area of Hanoi that is as beautiful as controversial.
Why controversial and, I may add, so widely different to the Old Quarter?
It all goes down to the history of Vietnam and the French Empire.
This part of the city was decided to be the centre of the French power in South East Asia.
Most of the original Vietnamese buildings and religious temples were bulldozed and new ones were erected instead, using the 19th-century French architecture style.
A great part of the area was actually owned by the church which created small parks and squares all around.
This may explain why this part of the city is actually surprisingly very walkable as access to motorbikes and cars is limited.
It is however quite controversial as the Vietnamese heritage has been lost, it almost seems to be in France in a few corners (humidity is different though 🙂 )
The French Quarter is the ideal place to stay in Hanoi for romantic couples looking to have a breakaway in boutique accommodation.
One of the most characteristic places in Hanoi is the Sofitel Legend Metropole. A beautiful interior with a historical atmosphere. They even have walking tours through the hotel where you can also experience the recently found bunkers. A lovely swimming pool (rare in the centre of the city) helps to cool down the day.
A great alternative is the Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi, MGallery with its very stylish interior, a beautiful building, a great breakfast buffet and a prime location, close to really everything you need.
To better enjoy the French Quarter, you should join an organised group or have your self-guided walking tour.
Below you find a possible map with the end/start at the Pasteur Street Brewing, a nice bar to have a beer and a few nibbles.
Old Quarter vs French Quarter
What is best?
They are both very characteristic.
The old quarter is more Vietnamese in style, still with some local life and cheaper prices in both accommodations and restaurants
The French Quarter is more French in style, there is much more open space, it’s more liveable and you do not feel almost oppressed by the tiny lanes and the chaotic traffic of the Old Quarter.
It’s more of an Asian European experience but with a step back in time, in the early 1900s.
If you are after a higher-class hotel, a quieter night and maybe a beautiful grand architecture then the French Quarter is a better option.
Keep in mind that you can always walk between the two areas in 10-20 minutes.
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Hanoi for Families 🏩 InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: Quiet, relaxing, perfect for families with kids
- 👎 Cons: Far from the Old Quarter and the French Quarter
- 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Chops Tay Ho, Mylove Cafe
- 🧛♂️ Nightlife: 88 Lounge
Most of the expats in the city tend to live in this area of Hanoi.
The main reason is that West Lake is more easy-going, quieter, and not as chaotic as the Old Quarter, with many green areas around the 17km lake perimeter.
On a misty day, early in the morning, you almost do not see the other end of the lake. A relaxing place to have a walk, an area where the locals go for exercise (yoga, etc)
There are restaurants and cafes around, and plenty of options to spend the full day, however, you are sort of far from the Old Quarter, which is, in my opinion, the most interesting part of Hanoi.
In saying that, a taxi ride to the Old Quarter takes around 25-40 minutes, or more on peak traffic time (7-9 am and 5-7 pm).
There are a few beautiful hotels, much quieter and very romantic too. A great solution for families with kids or for a romantic hideaway.
West Lake is the ideal place in case you want to stay in a quieter area and you don’t mind the short trip to the major attractions in the city centre.
It’s the perfect place if you are travelling with kids in Hanoi and you don’t want to be in the chaotic centre
A quick tip here, pre-load on your mobile the Grab app. The trips can be much less expensive than by taxi. Uber was also another option however they closed the service in April 2018.
The InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is one of my favourite hotels in the area and for a few reasons
- the location is perfect, next to the Nghi Tàm, a multilane road that will take you straight in the Old Quarter. It’s a short taxi ride, around 20 minutes
- buses are also an option with the stop almost next door
- based on stilt houses on the lake, so scenic
- beautiful view on sunset (to visit for drinks even if you don’t stay there)
- fantastic rooms, service and a great breakfast
Another option is the Hanoi Club Hotel. The location is even better, around 10 minutes by taxi, or Grab, to the Old Quarter.
You can even walk there, it will take 35-45 minutes, it can be quite scenic, especially if you go through the Tran Quoc Pagoda.
The pool faces the lake, the building is not spectacular however the rooms have a good view of the lake. It’s a great value option, especially considering the proximity to the Old Quarter.
If you are after food and drinks options then you should check out:
- Chops Tay Ho, a famous spot for burgers, popular with expats.
- Mylove Cafe, a lovely place to relax, drink some coffee and use the quick WiFi.
- 88 Lounge, a cosy place to have drinks, with a beautiful view of the lake. A great vibe and awesome music to spend the night. The crowd is a mix of locals and expats/tourists. Highly suggested.
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Hanoi for Romantic Couples 🏩 Hotel Genial is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: Quiet, romantic, with a local feeling
- 👎 Cons: very hard to find accommodation (not much available)
- 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Home, Zulu Café, Manzi
This is one of my favourite areas of Hanoi.
It’s technically part of Ba Dinh (more on it later), however, I wanted to dedicate a few more words to it (it really deserves that).
Truc Bach is nestled between the Old Quarter and the West Lake.
You can get the best of all, in a quieter environment and in a walkable distance of everything.
Most of the hotels are meters away from the Ba Dinh iconic sites, the West Lake and a 10-minute walk to the centre of the city.
Have a look at the Hotel Genial if you are thinking of basing yourself in this area. It’s a new hotel, quiet, and clean, with complimentary breakfast and prices that you will not believe!!
A great place I found out on my last trip is a small island south of the lake unknown to the most.
It’s so quiet and picturesque (you can better see it in my video).
There are no hotels that I am aware of, however, you can find an AirBnb accommodation like this apartment, with a view of the water.
In the area have a look at the Home, a cosy restaurant not to be missed. A little boutique gem that should be on any bucket food list.
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Hanoi for a local experience 🏩 Lotte Hotel is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: Local experience, elite area, well connected with public transportation
- 👎 Cons: far from the Old Quarter and the French Quarter
Ba Dinh is another beautiful area of Hanoi, less touristy than the others in this post.
It’s considered to be the neighbourhood for the Vietnamese elite. Lots of parks, green areas, and small lakes.
It has also the highest concentration of iconic sites to visit as:
- Temple of Literature
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (try to go as early in the morning as possible to avoid long queues)
- Ho Chi Minh Museum
- Presidential Palace
- Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
- Ba Dinh Square
- the historic fort of Kinh Thien
- Huu Tiep Lake
- Hanoi Botanical Garden
and so many more.
It’s a great area to stay if you prefer a quieter place to stay, with lots of green around and the many iconic attractions next door.
You will have more of a local experience, in an elite area.
A drive to the Old Quarter takes around 15-25 minutes based on the time of the day. It’s a good compromise especially if you have already visited the city centre.
There is also the Subway that covers a good part of Ba Dinh
The Lotte Hotel is located on the top level of the 65-floor Lotte building.
The view is second to none and there is both an indoor and an outdoor pool which is great for the winter and summer too.
It’s less than 3km from the iconic sites, which you can literally see from the rooftop and possibly your bedroom. It’s a 5-star accommodation with a 3-star price. Needless to say, it is quite often booked out.
Hai Ba Trung, for the ultimate local shopping
Hai Ba Trung is probably not the top place to be for your first trip to Hanoi, and probably not even the second one.
Because it is more of an area inhabited by Vietnamese with almost no real attractions if not the local life, which can be really interesting if you are into street photography.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities, of all kinds, even for tourists and at a more reasonable price too.
I would definitely suggest visiting Hai Ba Trung if you are in the city for 4 or 5 days. You can experience how the locals live in Hanoi. You can spend a morning walking and wandering around.
There are accommodations in this area and usually, they are cheaper too, however, I may suggest basing yourself in Hai Ba Trung only for a long stay (you can save some money) and renting a motorbike.
If just for a few days I would personally stay in the central area or close to the West Lake. No much point spending the holiday stuck in traffic.
One of the most interesting sites to visit, and surely one of the best photography locations in Vietnam, is the street train.
It’s actually located on the border of Hai Ba Trang (check map here), and 20 minutes walk from the French Quarter.
Here the trains pass literally cm from the houses and the local life.
There is also another similar location with the train in the middle of the city, in the Old Quarter (see map here). It is more touristy though.
Trains at 3:30pm, 5:30pm and 6:30pm in the weekend and at 7pm during the week (time may change without notice though).
Be safe, don’t get too close!
How to move around Hanoi
Once you arrive at the Noi Bai International Airport you can catch one of these means of transportation to the city centre:
- Grab: book your car through the app. They will message you back and ask you the number of the pillar/column you are stationing outside the airport and they pick you up from there. Grab may be not an option if you land late at night or at sunrise. Cost is around $10-15
- Taxi: it costs $25 or over. The driver always tries their best to ask more…and more. Yes, it can be frustrating
- Pre-organised private pickup: this is the easiest way, it costs similar to Grab but you do not need to stress with data coverage for the app etc.
- Public bus: you can catch the number 86 straight into the city. You can read more information here on the pickup area and timetable.
The bad news is that Uber does not operate any more in Hanoi. Grab is still working and it is the quickest and cheapest way to move around Hanoi (remember to download the app).
Taxis are also a good option. Just make sure the meter is started by the driver once you get in the car. If they do not want to, then just ask to leave the taxi, you could have a bad surprise at the end.
In the city you can also take a motorbike taxi, it’s quicker and cheaper too, but more dangerous of course. You need to bargain the price prior to the trip. Budget a bit more than $.5/km (10kdong/km).
The Cyclo-taxi is another option, but mostly to tour the city centre or to go to West Lake(~20kdong/hour).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best areas to stay in Hanoi
The best areas to stay in Hanoi tend to be all around the Old Quarter and the West Lake. This is where the city started, and this is where you will find the most charming streets and buildings.
- Hoan Kiem Area: as you see on the map above, this area can be subdivided into two parts, the Old Quarter, north of the Hoan Kiem Lake, and the French Quarter, south of the lake. Even if you decide to book your accommodation elsewhere, this is a must-visit district. Descriptions of the two quarters will follow (in place of Hoan Kiem)
- West Lake Area (Tay Ho): less busy than all of the other areas, it has probably the hotels with the best view in Hanoi (to the lake) beside some amazing villas. It’s a more relaxing part of the city, more catered for families and couples that want a romantic stay. It’s very popular with expats too, especially teachers.
- Ba Dinh Area: more of a residential area with beautiful buildings and some of the main attractions of Hanoi as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum or the Presidential Palace. You can experience the real local life of the Vietnamese middle class.
- Truc Bach Area: as West Lake also this area is popular with the expats. It’s a relaxed part of the city, facing the south part of the lake, still with plenty of restaurant options. A nice place to have a lovely walk, especially up to the Tran Quoc Pagoda. Technically speaking Truc Bach is part of Ba Dinh, however, in this guide we treat it as a separate area, being so different in character and people living there
- Hai Ba Trung: named after the two sisters and Vietnamese heroines Trưng, this area is more modern. The streets and the roads are much wider than in the old quarter, still quite chaotic. There are accommodations in the area, however, it’s not very touristic. It’s mostly inhabited by locals with plenty of shopping options.
- The best area to stay in Hanoi for a first time trip is the Old Quarter. Attention! Be very selective with the hotel choice. It can be really noisy. Things change dramatically from one street to the next. In the weekend the old town closes to the traffic and it’s a big party. Again, be selective with the hotel (check my suggestions below and in the video)
- Where to stay in Hanoi for families: the French Quarter is a good choice if you want to stay in the centre of the city. It can be busy around but you will find better hotels, even with a swimming pool. The alternative is West Lake, so much more relaxed and fresher as well, with a nice evening breeze. The drawback is that you will need a taxi to go to the centre (20-30 minutes based on the time of the day)
- Best place to stay in Hanoi as a couple: Truc Bach, just 10-15 minutes walking from the centre, is a lovely boutique area where you can have a more relaxed time, with plenty of trees around. There is also an amazing quiet small island, unique, which is perfect for a romantic stay. The Old Quarter is also another great spot if you choose the right street (see more below)
- What is the best area for nightlife? Look no further than the Old Quarter, especially on a weekend. That is where all the action is.
- What about a quiet stay in Hanoi? On my last trip, I found this amazing small island in Truc Bach which is a world apart from the chaotic time that you can have in the centre of Hanoi. The great thing is that you are only 15 minutes walk from the action
- Best hotel to stay in Hanoi Old Quarter: Impressive Hotel, possibly in one the quietest street of the city, right next to the Cathedral, metres from the centre of the action. Super quiet for a night of nice rest.
- Best accommodation with a pool: Sofitel Legend Metropole, a beautiful hotel with a great French interior design, a fabulous pool, right in the centre of the French Quarter.
- Best hotel to stay with a family: InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, an amazing new hotel on the West Lake, very quiet, miles away from the chaotic lanes of Hanoi, still a quick taxi drive to the centre. Fantastic pool.
- Street food is amazing and very cheap. My best Pho at Pho 10, banh mi at Banh Mi 25, egg coffee at Cafe Nghia.
- Unmissable places to visit: the train truck through the city (go to the less touristy one), the Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Pagoda on West Lake and the Cau Long Bien station and the amazing bridge
- Best organised experiences: the street food tour to discover the hidden eateries, a half day city tour with a local guide, hands-on cooking class to learn more about the Vietnamese cuisine
- How do you go from the Airport to the Hotel: you can book a Grab (Uber-like app) or pre-organise your limousine pick up at the airport (suggested). They both cost around US$12, check availability here. I do not suggest to take a taxi, they tend to ask twice as much, if lucky.
- Another must see place in Vietnam? I would definitely suggest staying in Hoi An for a few days. This is one of the most iconic destinations in the country. And on the way, stop for a few days in Phong Nha with its beautiful huge caves to explore
More guides on Hanoi and Vietnam
- Travel photography in Hanoi
- Ultimate guide to travel photography in Vietnam (with video of the best locations for photography)
- Where to stay in Vietnam
- Where to stay in Hoi An (with video of the best areas)
- 3 Best areas to stay in Da Nang (and 1 to avoid)
- Is it better to stay in Hoi An or Da Nang?
- A Reference Guide to the huge caves of Phong Nha