Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam as well as the second-largest city of the nation, is an eternally great place combines modern image and ancient breath. Whenever expats come here, they definitely will fall for its tasty cuisine, hearty people, amazing scenery and vibrant nightlife. The following tips are helpful not only for first-time visitors but also for anyone who wants a safe and untroubled stay so that living here brings about the most rewarding experience in your life.
There are 4 distinct seasons in a year in Hanoi: spring, summer, fall, and winter, which is typical for monsoon tropical climate. It’s easy to feel the absolutely clear difference between the summer and winter. The summer normally lasts from April to August and the winter is from November to January. While the summer is hot and wet, the winter is cold and dry. The highest temperature in the hot season can be up to 40 degrees, then in winter, it drops to 9 degrees only. Despite the low temperature, it is not so freezing as Northern mountainous areas that you can’t see snow. The 2 remaining seasons are quite short in transition, but residents still can feel its change. Humidity rises high in the spring that creates a good environment for plants to grow. Besides, bright sky and warm sunshine make this time symbolize natural revival. By contrast, it becomes drier with a cool breeze in the fall resulting in a tranquil and peaceful feeling. These 2 periods of the year are memorable unique characteristics of Hanoi to visitors because they can’t find in any areas in the country.
Alike some other cities in South East Asia, Hanoi streets are still dominated by motorbikes. You will be surprised by the large volume of motorbikes, especially during rush hours, which causes terrible traffic jams every day. You should anticipate spending more time on commuting in the rainy season since it is not strange that you have no way to move in the crowd for hours. Public traffic types are not so diverse here, still, there are bus, taxi, and BRT. Recently, Grab also goes popular in Vietnam which provides users with 3 means: Grab car, Grab taxi and Grab bike. It’s very useful for foreigners who are neither willing to take the bus nor familiar with motorbike drive. You will know how much it charges and when the driver will reach you with little communication in the local language. In terms of traffic in Vietnam, the challenge that most overseas visitors confront is crossing the road causing by no traffic lights at some crossroads. And people may get more scared because of the honk and skillful drivers. Then, the advice is that you always go on pedestrian lines, keep a slow pace and watch all directions when going to the other side of the road.
You won’t find it difficult at all to buy or rent a house in Hanoi as an expat. Nevertheless, unless you want to stay here permanently, renting is more recommendable since buying relates to administrative and legal procedures which are more troublesome. Prior to entering the search, you should do proper research of house options and preferable locations as they have a huge influence on the rent and related costs. Averagely, with a budget of $600 – $1,000, it’s possible to live in a high-end unit, even in central districts like Hoan Kiem, Tay Ho, and Ba Dinh. The fastest way to find housing is connecting to prominent real estate agents like Alpha Housing. No commission is required (it’s the landlord’s responsibility) and your choices are diverse thanks to long listings of all corners in the town. This helps you reduce a lot of hassle during hunting and signing processes because the agents will do on behalf of you.
While people in the South always add sugar in every dish and those in the Central prefer chili in their meal, Hanoian’s food has a delicate and pleasant balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy tastes. It’s such a unique cuisine with flavors you will not experience anywhere else like pho (noodle), cha ca (fish with dill and green onion is eaten with noodle), bun cha (grilled pork and noodle) and hundreds of street food. Rice is indispensable in every meal and you need to get used to using chopsticks and tasting the fish sauce, too. Surprisingly, food price is inexpensive to foreigners from more developed countries, especially when you eat at a street food stall. For instance, a breakfast of noodles costs you $2 at most or a full lunch is around $3 to $5 only. Not only Hanoi specialties but also ethnic food from other cities and around the world can be easily found here. A wide range of tropical fruits also adds value to its authentic cuisine with typical fruits each season. That’s the reason why now Vietnam starts to mark itself as a fruit and agricultural products export country.
Besides modern places like the shopping malls, supermarkets, convenient stores and traditional channels like market, grocery stores, the Old Quarter is an ideal place to go shopping. The fascinating maze of streets may make you get lost in shops selling everything on the Earth from handicrafts, clothes, silk, to silver, coffee, and food. Previously, each street specialized in one kind of goods as its name; however, shop owners gradually expand their business scope or change to a brand new one that now only some streets remain the original scheme. In order to get a good deal on what you desire to buy, a bargain is necessary. Except for items with a fixed price on the tag, you always can ask for some discount whose amount relies on your bargain skills. The tip is to simply ask the price first, offer a maximum price you are willing to pay (often off around 30%) and be consistent with it. The former you are, the higher the chance of getting that item at your price is.