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Exploring Hanoi: The Best Neighborhoods For Expats

Posted by Khoi Pham on August 13, 2023

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a captivating blend of East and West, showcasing a rich tapestry of Sino-Vietnamese motifs intertwined with French elegance [5]. As the city undergoes rapid transformation, it’s becoming a hotspot for expatriates from around the globe. But where should an expat consider settling in this sprawling metropolis? Let’s delve into the best neighborhoods in Hanoi for expats.

1. The Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem District):

Hoàn Kiếm District

Hoan Kiem District

The Old Quarter, also known as Pho Co, is the heart of Hanoi’s commercial and tourist activities [4]. Characterized by a maze of narrow roads and alleys, it boasts stunning colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, and pagodas. The area is named after the goods traditionally sold on its streets, a practice dating back almost 800 years. It’s a bustling hub, offering a unique blend of the old and new, making it an ideal spot for expats looking for a vibrant lifestyle.

2. Ngoc Ha: 

Ngoc Ha

Ngoc Ha

If you’re seeking a slice of authentic Vietnamese life, Ngoc Ha is the place to be. This charming inner-city neighborhood offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. With its sea of push bikes, floral pyjamas, and conical hats, Ngoc Ha provides a genuine taste of village life within the metropolis [2].

3. Ba Dinh District (The French Quarter):

Phan Dinh Phung Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Phan Dinh Phung Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Step into the French Quarter of Hanoi and be transported to a bygone era where the charm of Paris meets the soul of Hanoi. As you wander through its tree-lined boulevards, you’ll be greeted by elegant colonial buildings that whisper tales of history and romance. Imagine a place where the grandeur of the Hanoi Opera House meets the spiritual serenity of St. Joseph’s Cathedral. And it’s not just about the past; the French Quarter is alive with upscale boutiques and restaurants, perfect for those who love to shop and dine in style [1]. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just someone looking for a picturesque stroll, the French Quarter is a delightful blend of culture, architecture, and modern-day luxury. So, lace up your walking shoes and let the French Quarter’s allure sweep you off your feet!

4. Urban Districts: 

The southwestern skyline of Hanoi

The southwestern skyline of Hanoi

Beyond the old Hanoi, the urban districts like Cau Giay, Thanh Xuan, Ha Dong, and Nam Tu Liem offer a contrast with their modern skyscrapers and shopping malls [5]. These areas are rapidly developing and might appeal to those who prefer a more contemporary setting.

5. Unique Attractions:

Exploring Hanoi's Train Street

Exploring Hanoi’s Train Street

  • Hanoi Train Street: A hundred-year-old train track running through Hanoi’s old town, offering a unique experience for visitors and residents alike [3].
  • The Chi Rooftop Cafe: Located in the heart of the Old Quarter, this cafe offers panoramic views of Hoan Kiem Lake and the surrounding colonial-era buildings [3].

Why Hanoi? 

Hanoi’s cost of living is surprisingly low, making it an attractive destination for retirees, students, and professionals alike [6]. The city offers a blend of cultural experiences, from its bustling streets to its tranquil temples, all set against a backdrop of rich history and tradition.


Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of the Old Quarter, the authentic village vibe of Ngoc Ha, or the modernity of the urban districts, Hanoi offers a neighborhood to suit every expat’s taste. As the city continues to evolve, it remains rooted in its rich history, making it a truly unique place to call home.

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