Visiting Hanoi in 2022

Hanoi is busy and buzzing, with hundreds of tourists and locals mixing in the streets.

During our stay, while Taiwan was still a little bit in post-Covid slumber when it comes to international tourists, the Hanoi street life was very inspiring. There were lots of outdoor places to drink and eat, and the overall vibe was much more relaxed and playful and less driven and commercial than in many areas of Taipei. This band playing in the middle of the streets was a good example.

But even beyond just counting tourists and measure their excitement, Hanoi was surprisingly different from Taipei. (Surprisingly for someone like me used to look at both from Germany, where they are just in “East Asia”.) For one, Hanoi is much cheaper! Hotels are about a third of what you pay in Germany or here, (western-aimed) food about half.

At the same time, Hanoi was much more dirty and dangerous when we were there. Rats in the streets and dead fish on the lakes were common, air quality poor. I’m not sure it’s the rain, winds, or the many e-scooters in Taipei, but it’s oh so much better here.

The biggest different was traffic, though. Hanoi is just pure anarchic chaos. There are 6-lane junctions of five streets with potholes everywhere and no traffic lights, sidewalks just don’t exists. It’s fascinating that it works (it works great!), but every time you cross a street you feel like Moses dividing the sea, sending some prayers not to be killed…

Unfortunately, I didn’t take too many pictures in Hanoi as I was out of battery.