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Life in Hanoi

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Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is located on the banks of the Red River. The city is known for its beautiful architecture and rich costumes and traditions that have been influenced by South East Asian, French and Chinese cultures.

Travelers will stumble upon colonial buildings, ancient pagodas and many tiny temples while exploring Hanoi. One of the best ways to do so is by foot, as you can come across delicious cuisines, silks and handcrafts. The city’s vibrant nightlife and multi-cultural communities makes the Vietnamese capital one of the most exciting places to explore.



Hanoi has a long history dating back thousands of years and has been inhabited since the Neolithic period.
Emperor Ly Thai decided to move his capital here in AD 1010, naming it Thang Long (City of the Soaring Dragon). Following this era, the decision by Emperor Gia Long, founder of the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, to rule from Hué transformed Hanoi to the status of a regional capital for a century.

Hanoi has been called names throughout its long history. Dong Kinh (Eastern Capital) was a name from which the Europeans derived the name they eventually applied to all of northern Vietnam – Tonkin. The city was later given the name by which it’s known today, Hanoi, by Emperor Tu Duc in 1831. From 1902 to 1953, Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina, but it wasn’t until 1945 after the August Revolution that Hanoi was proclaimed and recognized as the capital of Vietnam.

Hanoi has recently made great steps in recovering from its war-torn past. This has led the capital of Vietnam to become one of the top booming cities in Asia as well as a very popular tourist hotspot. On TripAdvisor Hanoi regularly ranks among the top 10 places to visit. The blend of different cultures and old-meets-new architecture make Hanoi truly beautiful and exciting. The occupation by China and later France is still very noticeable in day to day life. For example, Hanoi fashion is characterized by Sino-Vietnamese motifs with French flair. Hanoi natives are very proud of their culture and where they come from, which makes sense given that Hanoi has a rich history of overcoming great obstacles.

Work in Hanoi

The majority of Vietnamese locals are employed in the agricultural sector, and for this reason Hanoi has a lack of skilled and trained workers in its surrounding areas. English education is on the rise across the country, and many English-speaking expats can easily find teaching positions in schools. Those fluent in French, Chinese or Japanese will find an abundance of full- and part-time positions available.

Vietnam is an emerging economy and a rising expat destination. For this reason, an increasing number of professional opportunities are becoming available in the capital, giving foreigners the chance to experience working in Vietnam. Most jobs in Hanoi are in the mineral and metallurgy, textile, pharmacy and banking, since the capital’s main economy driver is industrial production.

Hanoi is Vietnam’s center of commerce, and it’s where most expats will find jobs. In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of internship positions available to young foreign professionals ​

looking to get ahead. With the finance, IT and business sectors on the rise, small local companies and large global firms are increasingly looking for international talent to work in their Hanoi offices. Popular internship sectors in Hanoi are IT, hospitality, PR and Marketing.

If you’re looking for internship opportunities in Hanoi, check out the destination page or internship page. There are many internship positions in different sectors in Hanoi as well as different locations With InternAsia as well as external partners.


Hanoi has a tropical monsoon climate, you can expect to experience wet summers and mild, dry winters. Rainy seasons starts around March and ends in September. The weather differs greatly depending on what time of year you visit. To help you out, we’ve made a little guide that gives you a general idea of the weather each month.

Starting in May and ending in October it’s the hot season, during this time expect very humid and hot weather. During the same period, it’s also rain season, which explains the extreme humidity. November is a transitional period, and December to January it’s dry. From February to March it is again a transitional period and the temperature will be mostly moderate. Some quick facts, July is the warmest month, January is the coolest and driest, and August has the most rainfall.


Getting around in Hanoi is very easy because most restaurants, attractions and shopping venues are close to each other, making this city accessible on foot. The city’s local population travels around the city on motorbikes but motorcycle taxis, busses, and private cars are available for when you want to travel farther within Hanoi. There are popular districts in which travelers enjoy staying the most. These districts include Hoan Kiem (comprising of the Old Quarter and the French Quarter), Ba Dinh, Tay Ho (West Lake), and Hai Ba Trung. It’s easy to find a cheap taxi or hire car in these districts. ​


Motorcycle Taxis (Xe Ôm)

Motorcycling around Hanoi is a great choice as its quick, inexpensive and available in most districts. You can find them around hotels, shopping areas and tourist attractions. These vehicles do not have fitted meters so do remember to bargain fiercely! Most of these drivers do not speak English, so remember to write your destination address. Or use it as an opportunity to learn Vietnamese and maybe even the Hanoi dialect!


Taxis are always available around the city. These cars come with fitted meters. Taxi starting prices are typically between VND 10,000 and VND 12,000, with every subsequent kilometer priced from VND 4,000 to VND 6,500. Beware of taxi scammers though, because there are some known scams going on in Hanoi.

Taxi drivers might tell you to pay toll, this is not true. A driver might pretend to be lost in order to take you to a restaurant or store for which he gets commission. Driving very slowly to increase the charge. And trying to sell unnecessary packaged deals. Generally, all these scams can be avoided when aware of them and by being an alert tourist. Some other useful tips to avoid these scams are; Use your GPS to see where your driver is taking you, Take a picture of the driver’s license, meter and contact information in case you want to file a complaint after and finally especially at the airport use the official taxis.


Cyclos are also not expensive in Hanoi however they are not always the best solution.

Cyclos only fit one passenger, despite being a two-seated vehicle. You may find it challenging to navigate through traffic on the busy main roads, but it’s a good solution for touring the Old Quarter's narrow streets as a quaint experience rather than a viable transport option.​



You can also travel by bus around Hanoi and easily reach areas such as Hoan Kiem Lake, The Old Quarter, Hanoi Train Station, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, and The Literature Temple. Depending on the destination, a standard ticket is priced between VND 5,000 and VND 10,000. You can only pay in cash, so make sure you carry smaller bills if you’re planning on travelling by bus.

If you're looking to explore other places in Vietnam, there are great transport links from Hanoi ranging in price and duration.


Vietnamese cuisine varies by region, and each city tends to have its own specialty. Owing to its proximity to the Chinese border, northern Vietnamese cuisine contains Chinese influences. The cooler climate in the north means that seafood and freshwater fish are extremely popular in dishes. The classic Vietnamese noodle soup Pho originates from the region, so be sure to try an authentic steamy bowl in Hanoi!

Hanoi is very famous for its street food. The best food experiences in Hanoi are made on sidewalks with locals and not in restaurants. Following are some great Hanoi dishes to enjoy as street food or in a restaurant.

Bún chả

The dish consists of grilled pork strips and balls or chả served over a bed of rice vermicelli noodles or bún. It typically comes with a plate of fresh Vietnamese herbs and a bowl of dipping sauce.  Pickled vegetables, like cabbage, carrots, onion or green papaya served with additional meatballs on the side.​




Nem Cua Bể – Crab Spring Rolls

These are fresh and lightly fried rolls with sea crab as a filling and vermicelli noodles.
These crab spring rolls are sold by the roll, where one roll is cut into four smaller pieces. They are typically eaten as an appetizer while waiting for the bún chả meal or dipped into the savory bún chả soup.

Chả Cá – Grilled Fish with Dill and Tumeric

The special ingredient in Chả Cá is grilled fish, typically mudfish or snake-head fish.
Fresh herbs, vermicelli rice noodles, a bowl of roasted peanuts and a dipping fish sauce with sliced chilies will be served with it. In the pot is the fish grilling with mounds of dill and turmeric.

Bún Cả – Fish Noodle Soup

It is a light broth made from fish bones with golden fresh white fish lightly fried. At the bottom of the soup, is a bed of rice vermicelli noodles. On the top covering the broth, is a delicate combination of spring onions and bean sprouts mixed with dill herbs.


Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The ancient site was the political center of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries. A notable attraction in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was the Hanoi Flag Tower, a renovated 40-metre-tall stone fortress offering expansive views of Ba Dinh Square and Hanoi City Centre. Located in Ba Dinh District, entrance to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is priced at VND 30,000 and it is open from 08:00 to 17:00 every day except Monday. This prominent site is also within a 15-minute walk from attractions such as Quan Thanh Temple, Vietnam Military History Museum and Cua Bac Church.​


Thang Long water puppet theatre.

Thang Long water puppet theatre in Hanoi is world famous and dates back to the 11th century. The tradition of water puppet theatres comes from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded, and the villagers would look for ways of entertainment by standing by deep waters with puppets performing over the water.

The puppets supported by large rods which make it appear as if the puppets are moving across the water.

The Perfume Pagoda

The Perfume Pagoda is believed to be the first temple built in the 15th century. A legend states that the site was discovered by a Buddhist monk who was meditating in the surrounding area over 2,000 years ago.

The Perfume Pagoda, known as Chua Huong or ‘inner temple’, is at the center of a very sacred site featuring a maze of Buddhist temples built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich.

The mountain foothills are an area of spiritual beauty and is filled with tropical plants and temples. The Perfume Pagoda attracts pilgrims and tourists seeking good luck from the stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave which have been named according to the individual blessing they can bestow. Dun Tien offers prosperity and Nui Co offers the chance of giving birth to a girl whilst Dun Gao translates as a ‘rice stack’ to those hoping for a bountiful harvest.

In conclusion

Hanoi is a fascinating destination that has so much to offer in the way of beauty, spirituality, diversity, cuisine and culture. Its growing economy is opening up a number of exciting opportunities to young professionals and expats looking to advance their careers and explore one of South East Asia’s most up and coming cities. Not to mention, there is no end to the exciting destinations.
If you’re interested in experiencing Hanoi from a unique perspective, get in touch with Vietnam internship experts AIP today. Not sure Hanoi is for you? Take a look at our other destinations and let us help you find the right one for you.


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