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Ultimate Guide for Hanoi Expats

Posted by Bui Duc San on February 17, 2019
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Ultimate Guide for Hanoi Expats

World is a huge sandbox filled with opportunities. I’ts up to you to decide whether you want to grab them, or let them pass. Every year thousands of people leave their country in pursuit of something greater. Something, that they could call a home.

Have you ever been to a country that made a lasting impression so strong, that you considered actually moving there for good? Well, you are not alone, we’ve all been there. Such enterprise is becoming much easier these days, due to the growing popularity of it. Especially if you choose expat life in Hanoi, or Vietnam in general. All you have to do is to search “expat Vietnam” and you will find plenty of help and opportunities to find a property in Vietnam for foreigners.

The following article will provide you with necessary information on how to be a successful Hanoi expat and improve your quality of life. We will show you the most popular Hanoi expat districts and how to find properties suited to your needs. Topics like weather, food, commuting and entertainment are covered as too. There is plenty to do in Hanoi, so let’s get to it!

Living in Hanoi

Over the years, Vietnam has become increasingly popular both as a tourist and expat destination. Rich culture, low cost of living, steady improvements in infrastructure, great food, beautiful landscapes, and much more!

If you choose to live with other expats and will specifically search for Hanoi expat area, you will find out that pricing of properties varies greatly. Vietnam offers a vast choice when it comes to mansions and apartments. Diversity would be the key word here.

We would recommend checking on some Hanoi expat forum to get more information and help. If you ask any expat what are the qualities that they are looking for when searching for the best country to live in, answers that show up the most frequently are: good food, quality lifestyle on budget, fascinating culture and nice weather. Fortunately, Vietnam has it all.

Second largest city, and also a Vietnam’s capital has been described by expats as a unique place rich with culture. As we already established, Vietnam is an expat friendly place and Hanoi is no exception. Lots of expats travel there to teach English, and eventually end up opening own business. Such enterprise obviously needs time to develop, but there is plenty to do meanwhile.


Hanoi is a very safe place, which makes it possible to live in any district you want, the whole city is taken care of pretty well. Especially, when finding a right place is easy – with help of qualified estate agents, expats are able to find a place to live even within two days after the arrival. In case of freelancers or people who want to share their flat, finding an additional roommate should not take more than several hours.

As mentioned before, pricing varies a lot when it comes to housing. Depending on the district and standard (number of bedrooms & baths) expats can find apartments from as low as $350 to even $5000 for the most exclusive ones. It is advised to always check the place before paying anything – make sure you know what you are going to pay for and that you understand agreements you are signing. Also, check how place is connected with the rest of the city.


As we already established, there are plenty of places suitable for expats. However, we can distinguish three districts that are especially popular among this group of Hanoi visitors.

Tay Ho district is the most western one, with a lot of infrastructure for foreigners. It offers both, luxurious villas and affordable houses.

Ba Dinh is the right choice if you serach for something more authentically Vietnamese (and possibly cheaper than Tay Ho).

Third neighbourhood that has been recommended by foreigners would be Dong Da – plenty of schools with foreign teachers and 100% Vietnamese neighbourhood.


Hanoi is also a great shopping area, due to growing number of foreigners. Such population creates a demand for many types of goods. If you happen clothes there, you will find many malls, stores, supermarkets that are selling everything you need. However, if you are tall or plus size, clothes are going to be (a little bit) more difficult to find.


How about some great traditional Vietnamese food? Plenty of that in Hanoi! When it comes to food there is always a matter of personal taste. However, Vietnamese dishes offers a huge range of variety, just to ensure you always have something new to eat. You can get a decent meal for a price of $1.

As for specific dishes – you should definitely try “Pho” (noodles with beef soup), which is one of the most famous dishes in Vietnam, among others, like Bun cha of Hanoi. You should also check com, which is green rice collected from immature heads of grain.


Rainy season (which stands for summer) stretches from May to September, when estimated average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius. Due to humid tropical monsoon climate winters are cold and dry, whereas summer is hot and rainy. While it may sound harsh, there are actual four seasons that can prepare you with fluid weather transitions.


If you are serious about living in Hanoi, you should consider getting a motorbike. It is arguably the most suitable mean of transportation there and Hanoi is a great place to learn. Technically you need to be licensed to drive a motorbike, but most of people are not. Majority of traffic cops don’t speak English, so they probably won’t even bother pulling you over.


Many expats claimed that most of the people are happy to have you in their country, and are willing to offer help when you need it. Hanoians like to start their day early, you can meet plenty of people in parks at 5am jogging and exercising. Street food is very popular eating style and a place to socialize. You can read more about Vietnamese friendliness on expat forum, like that one.


Hanoi is a unique place when it comes to nightlife and things to do in your free time. You can check for instance Bia Hoi Junction which is one of the most popular nighttime places. Also, be sure to visit The Water Puppet Theater that features life music and sketches of the local lifestyle. Hanoi offers variety of bars, beer houses, jazz clubs (they are great), and more. For a more relaxing, classic time – try the Hanoi Opera House.

If not Hanoi, then what?

Let’s take a look at some other districts and places, that may be of interest to you as an expat.

Ho Chi Minh City

As chaotic and crowded it may seem at first, more than half of Vietnam expats can call this place a home. “The traffic looks crazy, yet once you are in it the cars move at a slow and steady pace, and you rarely see road rage” said an Australian expat, who has lived in the city since 2012. City formerly known as Saigon is often depicted as calm, despite all the chaos.

The city offers an active social scene, is full of friendly places and also has the cheapest street food on planet (or at least expats claim that). Despite the fast pace, locals are very happy to help when needed. It is an expat friendly place, due to the large and diverse expat community.

Da Nang

Fifth largest city in Vietnam in terms of urbanization and economy. If you search for landscape diversity and you love to spend time on a beach – Da Nang might be for you. It is a city of bright colours – during the day it’s blue and green, like Son Tra Peninsula and the Han River. At the evening it turns into pink, yellow and dark blue.

Variety of bridges that connect eastern and western part of Da Nang are illuminated with different colours. Rich nightlife, cheap beer, good food, amazing beaches – these are the qualities that change tourists into expats.

Nha Trang

This lovely seaside resort town offers one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Most expats claim that they were drawn by the carefree lifestyle that this place offers. It’s a popular holiday spot, therefore many jobs in the city are tourist related. It also provides a thriving expat community and well-developed infrastructure.

Vung Tau

Many expats choose this place because of it’s relatively slow pace. If you seek to start a family and live in a place with less traffic and calm environment you should take Vung Tau into consideration. It offers probably the best balance when it comes to the pace of life. You can live in a quiet beach town and at the same time enjoy the goods of a big city (Ho Chi Minh is roughly a 2 hours bus drive from Vung Tau).

In the end – is Hanoi worth it?

Growing numbers of expats in Hanoi and Vietnam speak for themselves. Whether it’s about beautiful landscapes, great traditional food or fairly cheap, yet qualitative life – all those factors made more and more people choose Hanoi. If you have any questions about your dream home in Vietnam – call us! You can always email us and our agents (native Vietnamese) will be more than happy to help you with finding the most suitable option.

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