Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi?

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Foreigner

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Tossing between HCM and Saigon for first visit to Viet Nam. Recommendations, people?


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Grooba

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Tough call!
But if I had to choose I would go with Hanoi purely for the fact it's closer to one of my favourite cities, Sapa, the city in the clouds.
 

TomVexille

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Haven't been to Hanoi yet. But HCMC was awesome.
 
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straitman

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Tossing between HCM and Saigon for first visit to Viet Nam. Recommendations, people?


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Hard to compare.

Saigon is very busy and becoming modern and Hanoi is like a big country town of 3+million people.

Walking out from the airport arrivals Saigon is a bit like a zoo with people everywhere whereas Hanoi is more like a small country town airport in Oz.
Also Hanoi airport is quite a long way from the city 30+km versus 10km for Saigon. having said that we were there in April last year and Hanoi was in the process of building a modern terminal that may or may not be finished.

The answer probably lies in what you want to do.
 

hummel

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Tough call!
But if I had to choose I would go with Hanoi purely for the fact it's closer to one of my favourite cities, Sapa, the city in the clouds.

Sapa is beautiful. I did two weeks motorbiking around NE Vietnam a couple of years ago, amazing scenery.

However...In terms of cities I would go HCMC every time. I was never a fan of Hanoi and found HCMC much better.

Really got to get back on day!
 

outbackowner

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We have been to HCMC and Hanoi several times as well as Nha Trang, Hue and Hoi An and found Hanoi to be quieter, more cultural but HCMC is a bustling city with more shops etc and spicier food which we prefer.
Hoi An is a great place to spend a few days as well.
 

RB

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Tossing between HCM and Saigon for first visit to Viet Nam. Recommendations, people?


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I would say it depends on what you plan to do on the rest of the holiday. I certainly wouldn't be "just" visiting one or the other, I would be getting out of the city & seeing other parts of Vietnam offer.
 

Foreigner

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amaroo

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Done both....HCMC gets my vote.

ps - maybe Hanoi if you wanted to knock off Ha Long Bay
 

puppysparkes

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Went spent 3.5 weeks in Vietnam last October. Doesn't matter where you go really. It's all amazing however for me Hanoi was impressive. The old quarter, military museum and all the other sites that tell a version of history were amazing. Don't forget to do a guided walking hawker/market tour. We walked around Hanoi for 5 days at all hours and felt safe. HCMC of course has cu chi tunnels and access to the mekong. As Straitman says the airport is close to the cbd. I can recommend the Sofitel as a hotel.
 

burmans

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Went spent 3.5 weeks in Vietnam last October. Doesn't matter where you go really. It's all amazing however for me Hanoi was impressive. The old quarter, military museum and all the other sites that tell a version of history were amazing. Don't forget to do a guided walking hawker/market tour. We walked around Hanoi for 5 days at all hours and felt safe. HCMC of course has cu chi tunnels and access to the mekong. As Straitman says the airport is close to the cbd. I can recommend the Sofitel as a hotel.
Hanoi for me, HCMC is a large bussling Asian city but could be pretty much in any Asian country, for me Hanoi just felt more authentic, but as you see others differ on this. Must say I enjoyed both, just Hanoi more!
 

jetlagger

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Each to their own... though I much preferred Hanoi. Found it much more historically interesting & more favourable weather. :D
 
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Love Vietnam! I've been to both Hanoi and HCMC - and they are very different cites. If you get a chance, Hoi An or Sapa are both fantastic places to visit. Halong Bay is also pretty spectacular (even on a freezing overcast day in January!) I would recommend these over either city. Hanoi, particularly the old town, is more old style (communist) Asia, whereas HCMC is more western because of the French heritage. Depends what you are interested in...I would choose Hanoi, but only for a few days. The craziness in both cities takes a bit of getting used to.
 

puppysparkes

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Regarding weasel coffee, not sure if your a coffee fan boy but unless you are standing in the weasel farm and actually see the product being recovered, it's all fake. I'm certain we bought the fake stuff but it is still very tasty. Do not pay full price for anything , always haggle. But no need to be brutal about it as some nationalities we saw. If you can I highly recommend seeing Hoi Ann and Nha Trang. Nha trang has the worlds longest over water cable car to vin pearl land. Vin pearl will bring out the inner child in anyone. Imagine an empty dreamworld with bars everywhere. Once you pay for the cable car everything is free. Food and beverages are surprisingly cheap. Vinpearl Amusement Park


Back to Hanoi, walk everywhere or at the least, to your destination. Getting amongst it is the best part and you will stumble across some amazing places. We found a place that did a beer and egg drink. There is a backstory around how it was invented but all you need to know is that it's wickedly amazing.Beer & Egg (worth a try) - Picture of Hanoi, Vietnam - TripAdvisor
Be Bold! Vietnamese Egg Beer - WanderLit

Visiting Sofitel Metropole must be done. It is pricey compared to western standards but you won't be disappointed. Regarding accommodation, I can recommend the Pullman or the Sofitel plaza in Hanoi.


Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (Vietnam): See 3,224 Hotel Reviews and 1,589 Photos - TripAdvisor
 

Demon_fan

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All the comments are fairly accurate, but I really didn't like Hanoi. I've been to Saigon on three occasions and absolutely loved it each time!
 

Pushka

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We loved HaNoi but not HCM. But that was probably because my bag was slashed off me by a passenger on a motorbike.
 

Mattg

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We loved HaNoi but not HCM. But that was probably because my bag was slashed off me by a passenger on a motorbike.

A friend had a camera stolen in Hanoi in a similar grab-n-run. It could happen anywhere.
 

lovetravellingoz

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I much preferred Hanoi over HCM. And that was despite having Rabies injections there after being bitten by a monkey in a Long Bay on a sea kayaking trip. And the initial injections into each and every tooth mark were much worse than the bite!
 
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