Differences between Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh city: Which to visit?

Being the two largest cities in Vietnam, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh have their special characteristics. As places in which to live and work, what are the main differences between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City?

This type of question is usually asked by expats who were confused about deciding on choosing where to live in Vietnam. At first glance, both cities offer plenty of sightseeing and shopping opportunities, dining and nightlife options, as well as hotels catering to just about any budget and preference. In this article, we will take a look at these two very different destinations in Vietnam and compare their characters from the viewpoints of some of the people who know them best.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Summary

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are two of the most popular destinations in Vietnam, each offering a unique experience for travelers. Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is renowned for its rich history and culture, charming Old Quarter, beautiful lakes, and delicious food. It’s also a convenient gateway to popular day trips destinations such as Halong Bay, Sapa, and Ninh Binh.

On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, is known for its modern cityscape, lively nightlife, and diverse mix of people and cultures. It’s a bustling metropolis that combines the old and new, offering visitors the chance to explore popular attractions like the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels, and Phu Quoc beaches.

When visiting Hanoi, you’ll notice the city’s charm and authenticity, with traditional buildings and architecture that are steeped in history. In contrast, Ho Chi Minh City is a melting pot of cultures, with multicultural artifacts and Hindu temples that are not as commonly seen in Hanoi. Another noticeable difference is the sense of community in Hanoi, where neighbors often gather and socialize, which is not as common in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ultimately, the choice between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City depends on your interests and travel style. If you’re looking for a more traditional and historical experience, Hanoi may be a perfect choice. But if you’re seeking a modern and vibrant atmosphere, then Ho Chi Minh City could be the better option. Regardless of which city you choose, both offer a unique and unforgettable experience in Vietnam.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Ease of Getting There

Another difference between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is their ease of access. Ho Chi Minh City has the largest airport in Vietnam, Tan Son Nhat International Airport, while Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport is the second largest. Tan Son Nhat Airport offers more international flight connections and is often the preferred gateway to the country for many travelers. However, both cities are well-connected by air, train, and bus, making it relatively easy to travel between them and other destinations in Vietnam.
>>>Read more: New to Noi Bai airport in Hanoi? Here is a detailed guide!

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: City Vibe

One of the most noticeable differences between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is their city vibe. Hanoi has a more traditional appearance with charming old quarters, local markets, narrow lanes, and low buildings. Many people believe that Hanoi provides a more authentic view of Vietnamese life and culture, and it is easy to see why. The city has managed to maintain its old-world charm despite modernization efforts.

In contrast, Ho Chi Minh City is a modern metropolis with tall skyscrapers, wide roads, trendy shopping malls, rooftop bars, and a variety of international restaurants. It’s a bustling city that combines the old and the new, where modern developments are quickly replacing the old buildings. The city’s vibrant atmosphere and lively nightlife make it an exciting place to visit and explore.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh city: Beautiful Attractions

Hanoi is known as Vietnam’s capital which is teeming with well-preserved Buddhist shrines, beautiful lakes, and an Old Quarter filled with ancient ruins, some of which are over 1,000 years old. There is a list of extremely great destinations in Hanoi including the Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son Temple, One Pillar Pagoda, Hoan Kiem lake, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Ba Vi National Park, etc.

Ho Chi Minh city still retains its primitive beauty from the war and is known as a home of colonial buildings, war museums, and historic remnants of the Vietnam War such as Cu Chi Tunnels, Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh Square, War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, etc.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Weather

One big difference between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from November to April is the temperature difference: in Hanoi, the period from November to April experiences cooler and drier weather compared to Ho Chi Minh city.
The average temperature in Hanoi is 20°C with January being the coldest month with an average temperature of 17°C. The wet season starts in May, and by July the rain has increased to its heaviest. July and August are the wettest months of the year. Temperatures are high at this time of year with daily highs over 30°C and nighttime temperatures never dropping much below 25°C.

>>>Read more: A YEAR OF WEATHER IN HANOI

In Ho Chi Minh City the average temperature is pretty stable throughout the year: around 27°C. The temperatures are highest on average in April, at around 29.5 °C. In December, the average temperature is 25.9 °C. It is the lowest average temperature of the whole year. Rain season starts in May and until October with heavy rainfall. Typhoons are common during the rainy season and they can be a destructive force along the coastline. Flooding of city streets is common during this period. The rain combined with the high humidity can make it quite uncomfortable, especially if you’re doing any strenuous activities.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Cost of living & Food

The cost of living for an expat in Hanoi City is around USD700/month (~16.248.800 VND). Because Hanoi is one of the most ancient cities in Vietnam so the food here is super diversified and cheap. Hanoi people are famous for elegance and graves, this is reflected in every dish in their meals. When you have a chance to visit Hanoi, you should try Pho (Noodle Soup), Bun Cha Ca (Grilled & Fried Fish with Rice Noodles), Bun Cha (Grilled Pork & Noodles), Xoi (Sticky Rice), Bun-Mien Ngan (Rice Noodles with Muscovy Duck), Banh Mi (Baguette Sandwich), Pho Cuon (Rice Noodle Rolls), Pho Chien Phong (Fried Pho Noodles), etc.

>>>Read more: Cost of living in Hanoi, Vietnam

The cost of living for an expat in Ho Chi Minh City is about USD 750/month (~17.3625.000 VND). The food in Ho Chi Minh City is extremely affordable, diversified, and delicious. Although mixed with the diverse culture, it still has its specialty in culinary culture affected by aquatic culture. Because Ho Chi Minh City is the city of migrants so you can easily find all of the food from 3 regions in Vietnam here: Bun Cha, Bun Bo Hue, Pho, Com Tam (broken rice), Banh Xeo (sizzling cake), etc.

>>>Read more: Cost of living in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City has also known as the food capital of Vietnam, where travelers can enjoy not only authentic French and Vietnamese delicacies but also expat-owned bistros serving Japanese, Chinese, Mediterranean, and American fare.

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Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Nightlife

When it comes to nightlife, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer different experiences

When it comes to nightlife, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer different experiences

When it comes to nightlife, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer different experiences. Hanoi’s nightlife is more laid-back and focused on local culture. The Old Quarter is a popular spot for tourists, with many bars and restaurants serving traditional Vietnamese food and drink.

In Hanoi, most shops shut their shutters by 9 pm, restaurants start to wind down at 9.30–10 pm, most bars begin to empty at 10–10.30 pm, and by 11 pm the city is peacefully asleep. Therefore, if you prefer a more relaxed and low-key atmosphere, Hanoi’s nightlife might be the perfect fit for you.

On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife is more cosmopolitan and geared toward younger crowds. District 1 is the hub of the city’s nightlife, with a wide range of bars, clubs, and live music venues. You can find everything from rooftop bars with stunning city views to underground clubs playing the latest electronic music.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the nightlife scene is very lively and often lasts until the early hours of the morning. So, if you’re looking for a more modern and party-centric experience, Ho Chi Minh City has more to offer.

Ultimately, the choice between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife depends on your personal preferences. Whether you prefer a more cultural and traditional experience or a more modern and vibrant atmosphere, both cities have plenty to offer.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: History and Culture

Although both cities have a rich history and culture, Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh city differ in style and influence.

Although both cities have a rich history and culture, Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh city differ in style and influence.

Hanoi is considered the cultural and artistic hub of Vietnam, with a history spanning over 4,000 years. It is home to many traditional art forms, such as painting, lacquer art, instrument making, and puppetry. The city is also filled with historical sites like temples, pagodas, and colonial buildings.

Ho Chi Minh City, founded in the 18th century, is named after the revolutionary leader who fought for Vietnam’s independence. It has a more modern and cosmopolitan culture. The city is home to many pop-culture creatives and marketing professionals. It also has some cultural sites, such as museums, churches, and markets, but they may not be as numerous as those in Hanoi.

Overall, both cities offer rich cultural experiences, but the emphasis is different. Hanoi offers a more traditional and historical experience, while Ho Chi Minh City offers a more contemporary and diverse experience.

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Shopping

If you want to go shopping in Hanoi, you can not miss the local markets around Old Quarter. The best local markets in Hanoi are always bustling with hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, quality textiles, and household supplies as early as 06:00 (am) such as Dong Xuan market, Hang Be market, Quang Ba flower market, Hom market, Hanoi Weekend Night market, etc. If you love to explore the local food culture of Hanoi, then check out the delicious street foods being sold at the night market. The best thing about exploring the market with your local guide is that you’ll learn more about the dishes and the ingredients used in preparing them.

>>>Read more: Top 10 cheap backpacking supplies shops in Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh city is renowned for its expensive and modern shopping malls, such as Vincom Center, Takashimaya Vietnam, and Parkson Plaza Department Store. There are places to shop for your everyday needs, rather than just luxury items. The mall includes a vast supermarket with many local and imported goods. Whether you want rice paper, olive oil, German biscuits, dresses, shampoo, or fresh fruits, here you can get it.

Although modern shopping malls is becoming more popular in the fast-paced lifestyle of Ho Chi Minh city, traditional markets have been long-lasting and keeping several cultural aspects of the Vietnamese for hundred years and there are the symbols of the city. Ben Thanh market, Cho Lon (Binh Tay) market, An Dong market, Ba Chieu market, Tan Dinh market,etc are the top markets in Ho Chi Minh city that you should not miss when you come to Vietnam.

>>>Read more: 12+ best places for having massage in Ho Chi Minh City

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Vietnam Teaching Jobs (VTJ), which was founded in 2012 is a well-established platform for teachers to find their dream teaching job in Vietnam. Covering the entirety of the country, we have successfully paired thousands of happy teachers and schools. Be part of the thousands of happy teachers working in Vietnam, register and apply for your dream job today!

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Vietnam Teaching Jobs (VTJ), which was founded in 2012 is a well-established platform for teachers to find their dream teaching job in Vietnam. Covering the entirety of the country, we have successfully paired thousands of happy teachers and schools. Be part of the thousands of happy teachers working in Vietnam, register and apply for your dream job today!