Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: Which City is the Priority for Your Trip to Vietnam?

You’re planning a trip to Vietnam but have no idea of where to visit? Can’t make a decision between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh? Fret not, as in this article we will make it clear for you by making a comparison between these two cities in terms of sightseeing, food, shopping, accommodation, budget and more.

In general, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are quite similar in many aspects from intriguing culture, stunning architecture and natural beauty to flavorful food and bustling streets. Still, each city has its own feature with a unique look and feel. Read through all the factors before deciding where to visit on your upcoming trip to Vietnam.

hanoi or ho chi minh city 1Drinking tea watching rush hour of mopeds in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam


Vietnamese cuisine is among one of the most unique, delicious and healthy food in the world with a wide range of specialties throughout the country. Still, cuisine differs from region to region due to the difference in culture. Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are amazing hubs for foodies.

Hanoi has no shortage of local delicacies and mouth-watering street food which can be found at any corner of the streets. From the national dish of pho (delicious noodle soup with meat and fresh greens) to other famous specialties including banh my or bun cha, you can easily get a satisfying meal for as little as a dollar.

>> Further Read: What to Eat in Hanoi? Best Tastes of Authentic Flavors

hanoi or ho chi minh city 2Unique cuisine can be found at every corner of Hanoi City

Ho Chi Minh City, which is more modern and dynamic, offers a more diverse food option to choose from. In addition to the street food option, there’s a lot more to excite your palate with a huge variety of international restaurants.

Both cities are enchanting with a vast array of mouth-watering cuisine, still, for the breadth and quality of upmarket restaurants, Ho Chi Minh City tends to trump Hanoi in this aspect.

hanoi or ho chi minh city 3A Western boy enjoying street foods in Ho Chi Minh City


Served as the cultural capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is enchanting with a history feel flowing through the entire city, especially in its variety of historic sites including the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Complex, museums, etc.

hanoi or ho chi minh city 4Hoan Kiem Lake - The Most Famous Site at the heart of Hanoi City

Ho Chi Minh is much more bustling and lively. It also reflects a delightful blend of old and new, traditional and contemporary impression with a number of colonial-style buildings, historic sites dotted with skyscrapers and luxurious shopping centers.

>> Suggested Read: The 5 Best Indian Restaurants in Hanoi

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When it comes to nightlife, Hanoi is no doubt one of the best places for backpacker-style nightlife with cheap booze, so it’s a perfect hub for on-a-shoestring travelers. As soon as the sun sets, people head out and flock together at the noisy streets of the Old Quarter, chill out and relax with a couple of cold drinks which is as inexpensive as 5000 VND.

>> Find out more about Hanoi Nightlife here: https://vietnamtour.in/hanoi-nightlife

hanoi or ho chi minh city 5Stunning view over West Lake Hanoi at night

Ho Chi Minh City, however, caters to more upmarket travelers with a number of sprawling nightclubs, delightful rooftop bars. For budget-conscious travelers, there are still some options of smaller nightclubs, bars and pubs to relax and hang around.

hanoi or ho chi minh city 6


If you’re looking for a traditional shopping experience, then Hanoi is the place of choice. Its wide range of local markets, small shops, shopping houses lined along the Old Quarter offer plenty of chances for shopping. Hanoi Night Market taking place at weekends is definitely one of the best places to shop offering authentic shopping experience in Hanoi.

hanoi or ho chi minh city 7

Ho Chi Minh is also a shopping hub with a vast array of higher-end shops and luxurious shopping malls which offer a more comprehensive and diverse shopping scene. Fancy in haggling? Make your way to some local markets such as the famous Ben Thanh Market, you can find anything you need.

>> Read more about Ho Chi Minh Shopping: https://vietnamtour.in/ho-chi-minh-shopping

hanoi or ho chi minh city 8


Both cities offer a wide range of options for accommodation from budget hostels for backpackers to boutique and luxury hotels with great value-for-money ratio.

Hotels in Hanoi tend to be properties at medium range with the original concept and amazing personalized services. Those who travel on the cheap definitely find budget-friendly accommodation around the city. Along the streets of Hanoi Old Quarter, there are a plethora of elegant colonial-style buildings offering a wide selection of accommodation.

>> Check out our list of the BEST hotels in Hanoi: https://vietnamtour.in/best-hotels-in-hanoi

hanoi or ho chi minh city 9Inside Hanoi Metropole Hotel

Ho Chi Minh, on the other hand, known as the expat hub with a variety of accommodation from backpackers hostels to sprawling hotels for high-end travelers. This lively city has a lot to offer.

hanoi or ho chi minh city 10Pool View from a nice hotel in the central Ho Chi Minh City


In general, Vietnam is not the safest and scam-free country in the world. Many foreigners experience incidents like scams, pickpocketing or thievery while traveling in Vietnam.

In Hanoi, scams are not uncommon. You might get scams when booking tours to Sapa or Halong Bay with a much higher price, or suddenly the street vendors stuff something into your hands and finally ask for your money.

Ho Chi Minh has raised with pickpocketing scenes. Snatching bags and stealing belongings from motorbikes or those walking on the sidewalk are so common in this modern city. Make sure to keep your belongings carefully, especially in public areas.

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hanoi or ho chi minh city 11Keep an eye on your belongings when walking in Ho Chi Minh City!


Vietnam is among the most budget-friendly destinations in the world. In tourist attractions or big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, the prices could be higher, but in general, Vietnam is still an ideal place for on-a-shoestring travelers. 

Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh offer different range of prices from high-end restaurants to inexpensive food joints or local markets. However, Ho Chi Minh has a larger offer than Hanoi for those traveling on a shoestring budget.

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The weather in Vietnam varies from region to region. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, located in 2 different parts of the country experience quite different weather conditions.

Located in the northern part in the Red River Delta region, Hanoi experiences distinct variations with 4 clear seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. While in summer, the weather is often hot with the temperature as high as 40 degrees, the winter could be cold and misty. The best time to visit Hanoi is during Spring (March to May) or Fall (September to November)

hanoi or ho chi minh city 13Hanoi Old Quarter on a sunny winter day

Ho Chi Minh, located in the southern part in the Mekong Delta region experiences a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: the wet season and dry season. The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh is definitely during the dry season (from December to April).

hanoi or ho chi minh city 14Ho Chi Minh City in rain seasons

You’ve got into the differences between these two big cities. Both cities are worth your visit with its own characteristics. Depending on what you’re looking for from your trip to Vietnam, you can have your own pick. If you’re in Vietnam in a short time, choose to visit Hanoi as it’s home to a fascinating mix of culture, history and natural beauty which can keep you busy for days. For a longer itinerary, add both of the cities on your trip for a more exclusive experience in Vietnam.

anthony ngo

Anthony Ngo

Hi, I'm a Travel Expert of Vietnamtour.in. With me, traveling is an intense passion and promoting the charming beauty of Vietnam to international friends is a glory mission.

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