Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh

Vietnam is not always the first thing that comes to mind when talking about vacation. But this little paradise in the Southeast has a lot of cool things to offer. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are major cities that you can visit for some adventure and relaxation.
Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh

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Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are two well-known destinations in the country of Vietnam. Hanoi is its heart and capital city while Ho Chi Minh is a major city in the southern region. The northern city of Hanoi is more traditional than the famous city down south.

Both are great tourist destinations but it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to experience the rich and traditional culture of Vietnam, Hanoi is the perfect place for you. Ho Chi Minh on the other hand is a place where you can get a taste of foreign influences.


Hanoi is the largest city in Vietnam. It’s also the country’s capital that used to be a part of China’s Han dynasty ages ago. This northern city covers an area of 3,360 square kilometers (1,297.3 mi²).

Modern Hanoi is preserving its rich culture and history. Despite the city’s effort to go along with the changes, it didn’t lose touch with its identity. You can spot well-preserved, old-fashioned architecture within the city walls.

The weather here is good even if it’s located in the tropics. Aside from amazing structures, the Hanoi food and coffee culture is thriving. You can also visit some museums to get a better understanding of the place and its people.

What Makes Hanoi Unique

Traditional Cuisine

If your taste buds are craving to have something fresh and unique, Hanoi has a lot to offer. There are plenty of delightful traditional dishes that you might fancy. Appetizing noodles and rice dishes can satisfy your craving and get your starving tummy taken care of.

Bun cha, Bun ngan, Bun thang, and Pho bo are some of the noodle dishes that you can try. You can also have some sticky rice cake like Banh com. Cha Ca is turmeric-marinated catfish if you’re planning to have some tasty grilled fish.

There are plenty of foods to discover and taste in the city of Hanoi. The recipes here are very traditional and you’ll find yourself amazed by the uniqueness and variety. If you’re getting tired of the same old fast-food burger, you’re in the right place.

The whole burger and fries concept is not that appealing to Vietnamese people. That’s why the local food scene is so alive. They’re sticking to their roots despite adopting a few foreign influences.

This opportunity to savor the flavor is exciting you but it’s best to tread lightly. Hanoi people are generally friendly but don’t feel disheartened if some folks are standoffish. A private tour guide will help you find the best food places and lessen some of your worries.


If you’re an eternal student who loves to learn about art and history, you can visit different museums in Hanoi. Some of the museums you can visit are the Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Ethnology, and Hoa Lo Prison Museum. Vietnam Fine Arts Museum is a place in Hanoi for art lovers with curious and creative minds.

The different works of art are snapshots of the past. The brush strokes in every painting and the curves and edges of sculptures tell a story. It’s like taking a glance at what life was like in Vietnam through the artworks there.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology focuses on the culture and identity of every Ethnic group in Vietnam. There are 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in this country. A visit there gives you an introduction to the life and ancestry of Vietnamese people.

As a curious tourist, it will remind you that history wasn’t all sunshine and roses. A trip to Hoa Lo Prison Museum lets you take a peek at the darker side of Hanoi’s history. It was originally used by French colonists to detain political prisoners.

At the height of the Vietnam War, this is where American war prisoners used to stay. The soldiers who survived the war and imprisonment later called this place “Hanoi Hilton”. A reference to the Hilton hotel chain in the spirit of dark humor. If you’re with people who suffered from the war, it’s better not to bring them here to avoid traumatizing flashbacks.

Visiting the said places is the closest thing you can get to time travel. Each item on display gives you a better understanding of why the city is the way it is. The city and its people were shaped by different events for many decades. But didn’t lose touch with their identity and traditions.

Four Seasons

Despite being in the tropical region of Asia, this city in Vietnam goes through four seasons. The winter season here does not usually involve snowfall but the days are still cold enough. During the colder months, the temperature can even drop down to 17.2 to 10°C (62.96 to 50°F).

Make sure to bring your stylish cold-weather outfits if you’re visiting the city during fall or winter. The average temperature in Hanoi is 26.3°C (79.3°F) while the summer season can reach 34°C (93.2°F). Temperatures would have mild fluctuations due to the spring and fall seasons.

The rest of Vietnam only has wet and dry seasons. So the four seasons in the wonderful city of Hanoi make this place unique and memorable. Add clothes to your luggage that can match the temperatures at the time of your visit.

A warm cup of coffee on a winter day is a perfect way to keep yourself energized amidst the cold. The popular coffee culture is quite an experience that you must try and get a taste of. Whatever the season is, Hanoi will always have something for you to enjoy and remember.

Coffee Culture

The coffee culture in Hanoi is something you can’t miss. It’s one of the things that make this city vibrant and strong. Cafes are ready and happy to accommodate guests for dates, business meetings, or even solo time.

The coffee-drinking tradition was introduced by the French during the colonial period. You’ll find different cafes where people relax and enjoy themselves. You can have a lighthearted talk with someone here. But even business folks would take seats to discuss serious work-related stuff.

In the 1950s, Vietnam started to participate in the coffee trade and production. This booming industry is even more obvious when you’re in Hanoi because of the product’s abundance. There’s a huge selection of shops and cafes for locals and foreigners alike.

Don’t miss the opportunity of getting a warm cup of coffee when you visit there. The warmth of this beverage goes well with the place’s nice weather. Relax and experience the goodness of the product that keeps Vietnam’s capital going.

Some caffeine can give you a good spike of alertness when you’re feeling sleepy. But not only that, coffee is rich in antioxidants that protect your cells from free radicals. Enjoy the view of this wonderful city while taking sips from your cup.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh is a city located in the Southeast region of Vietnam. This city is named after a revolutionary and former Prime Minister Ho Chi Minh. But this great place is also known as Saigon due to its proximity to the Saigon river.

Ho Chi Minh is one of the largest cities in the country but a slightly smaller city than Vietnam’s capital. The city of Hanoi is 3,360 square kilometers (1,297.3 mi²) in size. Ho Chi Minh, on the other hand, covers an area of 2,090 square kilometers (806.95 mi²).

Despite being a smaller city than Hanoi, Hoh Chi Minh has a bigger population. 8.9 million people are living in this mesmerizing city in the Southeast. This is a place where you can experience strong foreign influences along with local culture.

Conveniently located near beautiful beaches, this city can still give you a glimpse of paradise. There’s a perfect mix of urbanization and nature here. The people are friendly and more open due to the strong foreign influences.

It’s not fair to knock Hanoi down but Ho Chi Minh is a more foreigner-friendly place. If you’re looking for a more accepting place, Ho Chi Minh will welcome you with open arms.

Looking for a more familiar atmosphere? Ho Chi Minh is here for you. While Hanoi is slightly changing with the times, Ho Chi Minh city embraced and absorbed a lot like a sponge. This place has a more cosmopolitan vibe and offers an eclectic mix of different cultures.

What Makes Ho Chi Minh Unique

Beautiful Beaches

There are several beaches that you can visit near the city of Ho Chi Minh. Among them are the beaches of Ho Coc, Ho Tram, and Vung Tau. As previously mentioned, despite having a lot of cosmopolitan elements, Ho Chi Minh is not that far from nature.

There are plenty of resorts along Ho Coc beach. A couple of famous attractions here are trips to Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve and Tram Lake Camping. Ho Tram is just minutes away from Ho Coc so you can pick between the two and get the same great experience.

Vung Tau is 46 minutes away from Ho Chi Minh and it’s the closest one. Aside from enjoying the water and sand, you can also hike. Hiking will allow you to take a closer look at the huge Christ the King statue and Vung Tau lighthouse.

You can also ride the Doppel Mayer cable car to get a better view of nature’s breathtaking beauty. Ho Chi Minh is not directly located beside the coast, but beaches are close and accessible. If you’re looking for a nearer body of water, Saigon river can also give you a nice experience.

Friendly People

Ho Chi Minh City is probably one of the friendliest regions in the country of Vietnam. The locals here are more than happy to welcome people from all walks of life. The language barrier is not much of an issue since most locals have a good command of the English language.

Some locals can even speak and understand French, though they are few and far between these days. Your experience here will improve greatly if you’re accompanied by a tour guide. Because they can help you find the best food to eat and the best places to visit.

The presence of a tour guide is not always necessary since Ho Chi Minh people are very friendly and helpful to tourists. There’s no need to worry if you’re wandering around on your own. The people here would welcome you with a smile and lend you a helping hand if you need something.

The openness of Ho Chi Minh people is a result of the combination of good native and foreign qualities. Don’t be surprised if a local can speak English and greets you with a smile. This quality of Ho Chi Minh makes the city feel more laid-back and not anxiety-inducing.

Diverse Food

The mish-mash of cultures in Ho Chi Minh has resulted in interesting types of food. Recipes from different regions in Vietnam have made their way into the city. Along with local cuisine, foreign elements were also added to the mix.

There are plenty of restaurants and bars that include fusion food on their menus. Elements of Eastern cuisine can seamlessly blend with Western ingredients and cooking methods. Hopping from one shop or restaurant to another is quite an adventure if you are a food fanatic.

Burger shops, steakhouses, ramen, and seafood restaurants. You name it, there’s something there for you with an added Vietnamese twist. Compared to the traditional dishes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh is more adventurous when it comes to food.

If you want to experience different cultures through your taste buds, traditional and fusion dishes in the city are waiting for you. Trying out different meals will in some ways make you feel like you are traveling around the world. But you can do it in one place.

Both meat enthusiasts and vegetarians are all welcome in Ho Chi Min’s food district. You can try French-influenced dishes like Bun Oc, Banh Pâté, and Bo Luc lac. But the options are endless, so variety is not a problem as Ho Chi Minh restaurants offer a lot of things.

Vibrant Nightlife

If you enjoy the nightlife and vibrant cityscapes, Ho Chi Minh city’s got you covered. There are rooftop bars that you can visit and enjoy a couple of drinks and the view at night. Party animals won’t feel out of place as the city doesn’t slow down in the evening.

Hanoi’s nightlife is trying to keep up but it’s a bit more reserved than its Southern counterpart. Ho Chi Minh on the other hand is more welcoming to visitors from different parts of the globe. The people from this city are not as aloof as the folks from the capital.

Photographers who like taking night photos will enjoy the lively nature of Ho Chi Minh. If you want to party hard like there’s no tomorrow the clubs are there to accommodate you. But if you’re an introvert, there are also bars where you can chill and enjoy a few drinks.

Alone, with someone special, or with a group, nightlife in Ho Chi Minh is something you can’t miss. The city’s festive vibe doesn’t disappoint the tourists. The view and energy of this place are pretty jaw-dropping for people who are not used to city life.

Whatever type of nighttime activity you prefer, there are establishments ready to cater to your needs. You can make new friends along the way and take memorable photos with them. But you need to remember that you are still a visitor, so it won’t hurt to be cautious and respectful.

Is Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi Better?

Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are unique Vietnamese cities. The word better depends on what you are looking for. If you want to learn more about Vietnamese culture and traditions, you can take a trip to Hanoi.

For a person who wants to experience the unique amalgamation of East and West traditions, Ho Chi Minh is a good place.

History buffs will have a blast in the city of Hanoi. Because this city gives visitors a glimpse of authentic Vietnamese life and history.

Hanoi people are more conservative so it’s important to mind your manners. You might get some weird looks from the locals if you are behaving in a very boisterous way. But you’ll get a little different experience in Ho Chi Minh.

The people from Ho Chi Minh camp are more cheerful and friendly. So a warm reception from the locals and other tourists shouldn’t surprise you. If you want to have a great time and be yourself, this city is a great match.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are great in their little ways. Hanoi is a place where you can relax and learn but if you want to let loose, Ho Chi Minh is a better destination. Overall, Ho Chi Minh is a more welcoming and foreigner-friendly place.


Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh Nightlife

Though Hanoi is changing with the times bit by bit with its nightlife, it’s still tame compared to Ho Chi Minh’s nightlife standards. There is no shortage of bars and clubs where tourists can have a fun night. Keep in mind that Hanoi people are more conservative hence a less bombastic nightlife.

Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi Distance

Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are 1,013.9 miles (1,631.8 km) apart.

Population Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh

The city of Hanoi is populated by 5 million people. Ho Chi Minh’s population is about 8.9 million.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh by Train

You can travel to both cities via train as Vietnam railways link the two. There are six trains available and the journey time is 32 to 37 hours.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh by First-Class Train

A first-class train or sleeper is good for overnight trips. Vietnam Railways offer pillows, sheets, and electrical outlets for a more convenient and comfy ride. A first-class train ticket usually costs 30 to 40 USD for each person.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Train Time

The travel time from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh and vice versa usually takes 32 to 37 hours. It’s not a very short trip since Hanoi is a Northern city while Ho Chi Minh is somewhere down south.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Train Price

The price of train tickets for Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh trips can range from 30 to 80 USD. Prices depend on a passenger’s train ride preference like luxury/first class and second class. If you can take a trip without the additional luxury, you can go for the cheaper, second-class fare.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh by Car

It’ll take you 32 hours or more to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh by car. If you want to rent a car, make yourself aware that Vietnamese roads are usually congested. Train and plane trips are less expensive and more convenient.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh by Motorbike

Traveling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh with a motorbike can take up to 2 to 4 weeks. You’ll need a few stopovers along the way because a long ride is exhausting. Operating a motorbike with a higher than 50cc engine requires a driver’s license and an international permit.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Motorbike Rental

There are motorbike rentals in Vietnam that allow you to travel from one city to another. There might be some paperwork involved so see to it that you have your license with you. You’ll need to pay 7 to 12 USD per day for a rented motorbike.

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Bike Route

The bike route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh is on the main highway along the East Coast. If roads are busy, you can take a detour and take some time off in the cities of Da Nang and Hoi An.