Hanoi is one of the oldest capital cities in the world, with an interesting history that includes periods of French and Chinese occupation. The impact of these cultures is still visible in the architecture and cuisine.
It’s one of the best destinations in Vietnam for foodies, history buffs, and anyone wanting to know more about the country. The only problem you may encounter is deciding where to stay in Hanoi.
Most people enjoy the chaotic Old Quarter. Thousands of scooters and taxis crowd the narrow streets, flying past the busy markets, cafés, and restaurants.
There’s much more to see beyond the Old Quarter. Visitors often overlook the nearby attractions, such as the various parks, the city’s zoo, and the massive Royal City or the quaint Khuong Thuong Village.
Not sure where to look? Start searching for accommodations with this guide to the best places to stay in Hanoi…
Where to stay in Hanoi: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods and areas for travellers
The city covers a lot of ground, from the narrow streets of the Old Quarter to the surrounding residential districts and countryside parks. First-time visitors tend to stay in and around the center, visiting the boutique shops and crowded markets while walking past historic French colonial architecture. The central area also includes temples and other ancient attractions.
Some of the surrounding districts are more modern, offering shopping and restaurants. Get a taste of the distinct cuisine that melds French and Asian culinary traditions after spending an afternoon shopping at the modern malls.
No matter where you stay, you’ll find getting around Hanoi is easy. You can travel to most of the destinations in the Old Quarter on foot and buses or taxis can whisk you away to any of the other areas of Hanoi.
The best areas to stay in Hanoi for travellers include:
- Hanoi Old Quarter
- Ba Dinh District
- Tay Ho District
- French Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter
✔ Best area to stay in Hanoi for cultural and historical sightseeing
The Old Quarter offers access to some of the top attractions in Hanoi. Many of the most-visited temples and historic sites in the city are either inside the Old Quarter or just a short walk away in Ba Dinh District.
When people picture Hanoi, they often imagine packed streets full of scooters and bicycles carefully navigating around pedestrians. That’s what you’ll find in the Old Quarter. It’s a hectic urban landscape with historic attractions scattered throughout. Almost every street contains sidewalk vendors and people bustling.
The buildings in the area feature French colonial architecture, especially on the main streets. Some of the buildings include preserved shophouses. The narrow homes had stores upfront, courtyards in the back, and living quarters on the upper floors.
Most of the shophouses remain in use, with multiple families sometimes sharing a single dwelling. As you walk the street, try to visit some of the local stores housed in the old shophouses. You’ll find cafes, bakeries, and boutique shops that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
Recommended hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter
If you want to add as many stops to your Hanoi itinerary as you can, stay in the Old Quarter. It’s in the center of the city and includes quite a few great hotels. Due to the location, the hotels tend to fill up quickly during busy tourist times, so book early.
- Hanoi Chic Hotel: With wood furnishings and flooring, this boutique-style hotel stands out for its unique décor. Some of the rooms even have private balconies. When staying at this hotel, enjoy the convenience of the onsite restaurant. It serves a wide selection of international cuisine.
- Rising Dragon Villa Hotel: This is one of the top-rated hotels in the entire city. The rooms are big and have floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city. It’s also centrally located. The front desk offers bike rentals, making it easier to go out and explore the rest of Hanoi.
- Classic Street Hotel: As the name suggests, this hotel offers a classic atmosphere. The narrow building located on ancient Hang Be Street includes traditional décor and wood furnishings. It’s also one of the most affordable, quality hotels in the area, with a great combination of low rates and exceptional service.
Ba Dinh District
✔ Top area to stay in Hanoi for history buffs and nightlife seekers
If you want to visit all the historic landmarks, but want less noise at night, consider staying in the Ba Dinh district. It covers a large section of central Hanoi, bordering the southern part of West Lake.
The area includes many of the historic attractions, mostly located in and around the main square. You can visit the One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi Flag Tower, and the Soviet-style mausoleum for Ho Chi Minh without leaving Ba Dinh.
The large, open district is about a 15-minute drive from Hoan Kiem Lake and borders the northern edge of the Old Quarter. It offers modern amenities and luxuries, including large shopping malls and commercial districts. It’s also an alternative to the crazy, crowded streets of the Old Quarter.
Ba Dinh also offers diverse nightlife. You can find little bar streets, noisy clubs, and laid back lounges. It’s an eclectic district with something for everyone.
The eastern parts of the district, bordering the lake and the Old Quarter, are the most crowded and lively. To the west, the district settles down and includes large residential neighbourhoods with a few hotels here and there.
Recommended hotels in Ba Dinh District
As the district caters to everyone, you’ll find hotels to suit any taste or budget. Stay at mid-range hotels or luxury high-rise resorts with terraces that look out over the city. Unfortunately, more people are starting to realize the value of Ba Dinh, so vacancies disappear quickly.
- Lotte Hotel Hanoi: This luxury hotel is inside the Lotte Center, also home to the Lotte Observation Deck. Some of the rooms offer panoramic views of the city. The hotel also has an onsite pool, restaurant, and bar, so you have everything needed if you don’t feel like leaving the hotel.
- Dragon Pearl Hotel: Located near Dong Xuan Market, this hotel has modern facilities and typically caters to business travellers. The rooms include elegant décor while the hotel itself features Vietnamese architecture. It’s a lovely place to stay, but it doesn’t offer a lot of amenities.
- Hanoi 3B Premier Hotel: Enjoy a filling breakfast buffet at this hotel’s onsite restaurant before walking the streets of the Old Quarter. This comfortable little hotel is near many of the top attractions but doesn’t offer much else. It’s mostly chosen for its location and affordable prices.
Tay Ho District
✔ Best neighbourhood to stay in Hanoi for foodies and families
The Tay Ho District includes West Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi. If you stay in this area, you’ll have access to scenic parks, botanical gardens, and more temples. As tourists tend to love shorelines, the area around the lake includes stylish cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Tay Ho doesn’t have the same nightlife offered in Ba Dinh or the Older Quarter. It’s more family-friendly and relaxed.
Even if you don’t stay in the area at night, many people visit it for the afternoon. You can rent a boat and travel the lake, explore the lakeside restaurants and stores, or travel out to the temple on the lake.
Tran Quoc Pagoda is on a small island in the lake, now connected to the mainland via a small bridge. This district is also home to Quan Thanh Temple, featuring interesting wood carvings of flowers, trees, and animals.
If you want to try local Hanoi cuisine, the southern part of the lake is the best place to go in the city. You’ll find an entire street with nothing except seafood restaurants serving locally sourced food. The northern side of the lake is more residential but includes some of the top-rated five-star hotels.
Recommended hotels in Tay Ho District
The Tay Ho district has a wide range of hotels, mostly located on the eastern and northern parts of the lake. Along with five-star resorts, you can stay at quaint little boutique hotels near the shore or business hotels located on the main streets.
- Eden Westlake Homes: While this hotel isn’t on the lake, it’s a short walk from the lakeside attractions. It’s more secluded, helping you get away from the crowds and rest after a long day of sightseeing.
- West Lake Home Hotel & Spa: Sit on the bed in your hotel room and look out over the city. This hotel has rooms with views. It’s also one of the top-rated four-star hotels in the West Lake area.
- InterContinental Hanoi Westlake: This luxury hotel is quickly becoming one of the more popular choices in Tay Ho District. It has spacious rooms featuring traditional décor and views of the lake along with three onsite restaurants.
✔ Recommended area to stay in Hanoi for luxury shopping and dining
If you want to live the high life in Hanoi, stay in the French Quarter. It’s an interesting neighbourhood. While you can find French influence in the architecture and culture throughout the city, this area has a stronger connection with the former colonial rulers.
The small cafes with outdoor seating and designer shops instantly remind you of the streets of Paris. It’s also home to quite a few attractions.
You can visit art galleries, historic sites, and museums. One of the most famous attractions is Hoa Lo Prison, used by French colonists for political prisoners and later by the North Vietnamese to hold American POWs.
While the area has historic attractions, many people visit this district for the cuisine. The restaurants serve high-end wines and authentic European dishes, including French cuisine. If you want to shop, visit the three-story Trang Tien Plaza. The shopping mall includes luxury shops with designer brands, including Dior and Louis Vuitton.
The fine dining, luxury shopping, and convenient access to historic sites make it a top choice for honeymooners and couples.
Recommended hotels in the French Quarter
The French Quarter boasts some of the best hotels in Hanoi. As this area tends to attract fewer tourists, you’re more likely to have your choice of hotels. The only drawback is the extra few blocks it takes to reach the Old Quarter.
- Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: Opened in 1901, this hotel has its own history. It’s a five-star hotel located just a short walk from the Hanoi Opera House. It also has classy French décor and is home to the first French restaurant in the city.
- Hotel de L’Opera Hanoi: Another five-star hotel, this location has vibrant, colourful décor and furnishings. It’s a comfortable place to stay, with large beds and spacious rooms. With the hotel’s car and bike rental services, you also have more options for exploring the city.
- Conifer Boutique Hotel: This is the more affordable option in the French Quarter, offering a central location and quaint furnishings at a budget price. It’s a boutique hotel with contemporary rooms, located a few blocks from the Old Quarter.