37 responses

  1. thanksjock
    March 19, 2018

    Thank you. It really Is awful here. I’m sure there are worse places, but this is the worst we’ve ever seen. Another friend of ours just broke her two year long work contract yesterday, so that she and her husband can get out of here in a few months instead. She’s the fourth person we know who’s done that since we’ve been here. We’re also exploring some options, because we just can’t keep our young family here in good conscience. Thanks for allowing me to vent on your page 🙂

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 19, 2018

      Wow! That’s really sad. Glad you have a place to vent! It sucks when you’re stuck somewhere you can’t stand.

      Reply

  2. thanksjock
    March 19, 2018

    We have lived in Bangkok for a year, a few years ago. And for the last year, we’ve been living in Hanoi. We just visited Bangkok from Hanoi last weekend and we didn’t want to go back to our home in Hanoi. Hanoi is by far the absolute worst place we’ve ever lived. Aside from the things you’ve mentioned, street food (or most food really) here is not safe. Most cancers in Vietnam (and there’s a high rate of cancer here) are attributed to unsafe food practices like the excessive use of pesticides, and cheap and unsafe imports from China. 90% people here have worms or other parasites. Liver flukes are extremely common and notoriously difficult to get rid of and can lead to cancer in the long term. We’ve been told to deworm ourselves every 3-6 months while living here, which all expats in Hanoi do. If you’ve visited Hanoi, and especially if you’ve eaten street food here, chances are you have parasites and should deworm yourself. Nothing like that ever happened to us in Bangkok. Health care is absolute garbage in Hanoi. In Bangkok, it’s pretty top notch and hospitals are great there. Most medications in Vietnam are also Chinese counterfeits, including kids meds.

    Everything seems to be a scam in Hanoi. People keep saying that Hanoi is cheaper than Bangkok, but we haven’t found that at all. If you’re going to live in a shared accommodation and eat garbage in the gutter, maybe it’s a tad cheaper. But if you have different standards for yourself, Hanoi works out to be much more expensive. In Bangkok, our utilities have always been included in our rent. In Hanoi, they charge ridiculous amounts for them and won’t even show you proof from the electric company. For any sorts of western goods, foods and services, prepare to pay up to twice as much in Hanoi and the options are far more limited. Vietnamese people seem to think that westerners are a bunch of drunken idiots with more money than brains and they behave as the foreigner dollars are theirs for the taking. They actually don’t really like foreigners much here and they’re quite surly. They act like you owe them something. Thai people on the other hand are all smiles and make you feel like a million bucks.

    The pollution here in Hanoi is the absolute worst we’ve ever seen. We have an air purifier for each room of our apartment and it’s still not enough. Plus, every time we walk outside, it’s exhaust city and we can hardly breathe. Our hair and skin is ruined from the pollution. Our hair has been falling out and we’ve had some many allergies since coming to Hanoi (something we never had before). The water is not just dirty, it’s also full of chemicals. Whenever you eat out, you’re eating food that’s been cooked in chemical water. You can boil the water to kill bacteria, but boiling doesn’t get rid of ddt or agent orange.

    We also have to have a dehumidifier for each room of our place, otherwise everything in our home gets mouldy, including all of our clothes and the stains won’t come out. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Bangkok is humid, sure, but there aren’t mould spores ever-present in the air as is the case in Hanoi.

    We have encountered minor scams in Bangkok, and a motorcycle taxi snatched my bag there once. But in Hanoi, people are constantly trying to steal our belongings and scam us. Is almost as though they think they have a right to it, because westerners “have more money”.

    Traffic is also the worst. I have lived in congested cities before, like Bangkok, istanbul and Mexico City, but I’ve never seen anything as bad as Hanoi before. Prepare to sit in a cab for an hour to go somewhere that’s only 6 kilometres away. And this with the cab windows rolled down while you suck on the exhaust of every motorcycle that drives by. Cabs are also way more expensive here than anywhere else I’ve lived (excluding North America and Europe of course). Forget taking public transport as it’s not really accessible to foreigners, whereas the sky train in Bangkok is awesome and super user friendly. And forget about walking anywhere in Hanoi. There are no sidewalks in most places and you’ll feel like you’re going to get run over and die every time you go outside. You’ll also be jumping or of your skin every couple of minutes as a cars randomly honk at you while driving by, even though you’re not in their way. Everyone driving or riding a motorbike in Hanoi is honking ALL THE TIME for no reason at all. If you have kids, forget about walking down the street with them if you’re any kind of a decent parent.

    In Bangkok, there are police everywhere and there’s the tourist police that you can go to if you run into any issues. In Vietnam, police are almost nowhere to be found and if you do find them, you’re better off staying away from them because they won’t help you.

    We’re going to be in Hanoi for another year due to work commitments, but we absolutely hate it here and regret ever coming. If you prioritize any of the following, such as your health (both physical and mental), your peace of mind, your money, how you’re treated as a tourist and as a human being, do not come to Hanoi under any circumstance.

    There are people who feel differently, I’m sure. But we know we’re not the only ones who hate it here. Almost all of the couples we’ve made friends with since moving here, can’t wait to leave and never look back.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 19, 2018

      I am not a fan of Hanoi either. Sorry you have to stay for another year. Sounds awful!

      Reply

  3. Nika
    November 15, 2015

    Talon you right, never sow so many scammers as in Vietnam, sure there are in Thailand but in Vietnam is much much worst, everything for a foreigner is a scam.
    (ps try to rent a motorbike and to drive with your bag in Vietnam and let see how long you will keep it, or try to use your mobile phone in the Street and let see how long will take before someone will not grab it).

    Pretty sure Vinni is from Hanoi trying to promote its city. For me Thailand and Bangkok win K.O to Vietnam and Hanoi in every subject. Vietnam in general should change approach to turism although is new to it . Can not imagine the scams in 20 years time when people will get use to it…

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      November 18, 2015

      I found other areas of Vietnam to be better. Hanoi seems to be Scam City.

      Reply

  4. Vinny FC
    October 23, 2015

    THAILAND

    Having travelled to both cities, this is how I see it as a 28 year old male.

    When I first visited Bangkok I found it stressful, not exactly safe, didn’t love the food and people don’t just try to sell you things they grab you from the arms on the streets, walk along with you insisting to take you to places, lying about closed venues, then tuk tuk drivers take you where they wish even when agreed not to for a higher price, taxi drivers refused to use the taximeter claiming it will be more expensive for me if he leaves it on… Scammers are on the streets on the lookout, 1st question from everyone is, Is it your first time here? You say Yes and they will not let you go… I was told about a bomb threat and terrorist attack warning and so it would be better to leave the city, and so he (a guy on the street smartly dressed) could call a tuk tuk to pick me up right there and take me take me to a tourist info… Get there and it’s not a tourist info it’s a travel agent and yoy realised you have just been fished out, and they also won’t let you go, cause at that stage they still don’t have your money… and if you say no to their offer, they will cut the price in half just cause they know they are overcharging you anyway…

    That was Day 1 ans 2 Welcome to Thailand, everyone smiles in the exchange for money.

    Back at thw hotel decided to look in to it properly and asked for tours where i wanted and that was just great… food not so much… Safety feeling at night not great, better not to turn any street you have not been in during the day first…

    My total stay was 2 weeks and though I overall just about enjoyed seeing what I saw, coming back is not in my plans, though I did but only because I work for a Taiwanese company and have had to attend conferences there 1 week at a time 3 times a year.

    VIETNAM

    When I fist visited Hanoi I was pretty much immediately overwhelmed by the calm, sense of safety, worry free walking and waaaay cheaper than Bangkok in every single way.
    Hanoi is safe, quaint, traditional and the vast majority of its people seems to live with good will towards visitors unlike Bangkok people who are like meerkats towards tourists and their cash… (the bad ones/scammers)

    Scams; not once anyone tried to scam me, food outstanding not only street food but top of the range restaurants, and the prices the lowest I have ever paid for.

    Though it is true Hanoi has no pavements you can walk on, it’s no issue to walk the streets at all, it’s just how it works, motorbikes everywhere but better get run over by a bike at 15miles per hour, than a tuk tuk at 40, plus the air in Hanoi is breathable, Bangkok tuk tuks release such a polluting smoke that for someone like me with asthma just wasn’t great.

    Having visited both cities more than three times Hanoi for my own pleasure each time, Hanoi wins by far; safer, cheaper, much more traditional, leaves me in awe at every corner, relaxed feel and people above all are nice from within not because thay want your cash.

    Before I travelled to either I knew nothing about each city and nor was I informed by anyone or adviced what I would find… Discovery is what built my opinions above without prior judgement of either city before visiting.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      October 23, 2015

      I’m surprised no one tried to scam you in Hanoi. Almost everyone who travels there comments on how scamming seems like it is almost the local sport.

      Reply

  5. Thanh Nguyen
    November 19, 2014

    No offense at all. I don’t know anything about Thailand but what you wrote about Vietnam is extremely limited regarding culture and cuisine. A bit of history lesson. Thailand has been around in tourism industry more than 60 years or more while Vietnam is just opening up its door. A bit of comprehension of turbulence of recent Vietnamese history will be much help to understand a country and its people.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      November 21, 2014

      It seems you missed some things about the post, but thanks for your comments.

      Reply

  6. athini
    July 30, 2013

    Thank you for this, I am heading to Hanoi tomorrow after having been on Bangkok for 3 weeks. I found this article very helpful

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      July 30, 2013

      Glad it was helpful. I hope you enjoy your visit.

      Reply

  7. Andrew
    April 30, 2013

    I imagine we will end up going to both in our travels. Ali was in Hanoi last year and liked it well enough to want to go back, which is saying something. Neither of us have been to Thailand, but is definitely on our list. Maybe even for this winter. We’ll see.

    Interesting comparison, but an odd one somehow. What made you want to compare them? As you say, they are like apple and oranges and really only similar being large Asian cities. I have not done a lot of research, but I don’t really think of Hanoi as being an alternative to Bangkok for travelers. Is there actually this impression on the ground there though?

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 30, 2013

      I had made several comments about how night & day Hanoi and Bangkok were and had several requests to explain more about my observations. So felt this was as good an opportunity as any. 🙂

      Reply

  8. Sam
    April 29, 2013

    Really interesting idea, Talon, comparing two big cities like this. I’ve been to Bangkok but not Hanoi, and I have to say that after reading this I would not be mad on the idea of staying in Hanoi for a long time. The noise thing is a bit deal for me; I’m very sensitive to noise and would find the levels in Hanoi rather overwhelming, according to what you’ve said.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 29, 2013

      I’m not very sensitive and find it overwhelming, so, um yeah. LOL

      For me it was an interesting comparison because of their proximity to each other and their high degree of difference. They are completely night and day which I find fascinating. We leave tomorrow, and I’m so ready.

      Reply

  9. Amber
    April 28, 2013

    I have spent a lot more time in Hanoi than Bangkok, and Hanoi holds a special place in my heart. We have considered moving there, but a lot of what you said is true. There is something I enjoy about walking a sidewalk in Hanoi, it’s like a full contact sport. I love the tiny stools, and the sounds on the street. But, as I live in a small villa in Bali which is soooo quiet, surrounded by rice paddies, I suddenly remember all of the street noise outside of our room in Hanoi. We return to Bangkok in June for a few weeks, and hope to explore a lot more than we have in the past. You have given me a lot to think about.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 28, 2013

      One of the things I like about Hanoi is it’s raw and energetic. Bangkok is almost too calm and too sterile in some ways. It lacks the culture that Hanoi has in abundance.

      They are definitely two VERY different places. I can see the attraction to both, really.

      Reply

  10. Angela
    April 28, 2013

    Great comparisons Windwalker! (Just decided I’m going to call you Windwalker from now on.) I agree that Bangkok took some time to grow on me. Staying outside of the tourist areas is definitely key, as you mention above. Sounds like you should come back to BKK! 🙂

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 28, 2013

      Definitely will probably come back at some point, but there are a lot of other places in Thailand we need to explore, too. 🙂

      Reply

  11. Roni Faida
    April 27, 2013

    Great post, thank you. I plan on spending a month in either Thailand or Vietnam so any information I get on both is useful. I may have to bring a fork with me cause I’m dreadful with chopsticks.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 27, 2013

      It really depends on what type of experience you want. If you’re looking for a country that is very unlike many others, I’d say Vietnam. Thailand is absolutely wonderful, but at the same time it’s more developed and very “easy.”

      In Hanoi if you eat in the restaurants, you’ll get flatware. Some street food you can eat with your hands. But you’ll probably want to bone up a bit on chopsticks, bring your own fork, or bring a rubber band to tie on the end of the chopsticks to make a cheater set so that you can enjoy pho properly. 🙂

      Reply

  12. Talon Windwalker
    April 27, 2013

    I’m glad you found it helpful. I found the noise in Bangkok to be isolated to specific areas mostly, especially when compared with Hanoi’s hustle and bustle.

    We like to go off the beaten path a bit more as well. Bangkok was a place that took a bit to grow on me. I think I initially expected it to be more like Hanoi, but it proved to really be just another big city albeit with friendlier people. Finding NY-style bagels didn’t hurt either. LOL

    We haven’t been to anywhere else in Vietnam, but from what I’ve read and from what others have told me, there are certainly better places to spend your time. It’s a country with a lot of character for sure.

    Reply

  13. Nilda
    April 27, 2013

    Great post! Now I know to stick to Bangkok. I was just there with my 8 year old daughter and both of us fell in love with the city at once. Though yes, it is loud and congested in some areas (two things we both HATE about any city) I suppose the people there being so incredibly nice and helpful and yes, their smiles!, helped us overlook some of the negative things.
    I was dreading visiting Bangkok. We are more the “off the beaten path” kind of travelers. But I have to say Bangkok pleasantly surprised us. We loved it so much that when it was time to leave both my daughter and I would have loved to stay longer and would have had it not been for our flight schedules.
    It is definitely on our “places to return to” list.
    By your description of Hanoi and what I have read from other travelers, I don’t think I will put it on my “Places to go to Before I Die” list.
    Thanks for your insight!!

    Reply

  14. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    April 27, 2013

    Welcome to Vietnam! 😉

    Some random thoughts that your post has prompted me to share:

    1) We liked Bangkok right from the start, though I don’t necessarily love all big cities—Tokyo left us lukewarm, and it took a second visit to KL, before we really started to enjoy the city. In that respect, Hanoi was similar as when we first arrived, we liked it for about a day, then started to hate it… we took about 2 weeks away from it as we explored northern Vietnam (cannot recommend this highly enough! The northern section of the country is the most beautiful place we have EVER been!), and when we returned, we found we were better able to enjoy Hanoi.

    2) We thought the food in Hanoi was fine, but certain things underwhelmed us, and as lovers of Vietnamese food, we felt a bit disappointed by the dishes (and especially the banh mi). The one thing I would say that the south definitely wins at is the food: as we have been moving south, the food has becoming less similar to the flavor profile we associated more with Chinese food, and more like the flavors we knew and loved from prior Vietnamese food encounters. If you head to Hue, that was where we first noticed that the food was getting really good!

    3) Weather-wise, I found Hanoi a lot more bearable thank Bangkok. We arrived in mid-March, and it was absolutely the perfect temperature for me… I could even wear long pants! I also found it much less humid than Bangkok.

    4) We never felt threatened in either city, and I would not say that scams are that much worse in Hanoi than in Bangkok. I mean, we saw tons of people being taken in by tuk-tuk, taxi, jewel shop, and “the Grand Palace is closed”, scams while in BKK, but I really didn’t see this happening while in Hanoi. This could be because people always assume I am a local, whether we are in Thailand or Vietnam.

    5) Vietnam is definitely a challenging country, whereas I agree that Thailand is pretty easy. I don’t think it’s an accident that most people choose Thailand as their first “Asian” country to visit. I am glad that we waited until we had been traveling 8 months to visit, rather than coming directly after China after only 2 months of travel; I think that would have potentially sent us home! That said, we have met some of the nicest, most welcoming people in Vietnam (as well as some of the grumpiest!), so it’s certainly a country of dichotomies. I think the reason I have come to love it so much is just because of all the places we have visited to date, it feels incredibly exotic and foreign. Everything here is so different from back home… it’s even the first place we have visited without McDonald’s!

    My biggest advice to you two is do your very best to get off the standard tourist trail if you can. To me, one of the biggest joys about Vietnam has been the sense that I have really been able to explore and discover things that few others have… it’s really hard to get that feeling in Thailand! Not sure if you are still in Hanoi, but if you are planning to make your way south, I highly recommend stopping in Ninh Binh for a day or two and renting a motorcycle to get around and just get into the countryside. The traffic there is much more reasonable, and the people there are so friendly. We stayed at an excellent hotel while there for $12USD per night that had an AMAZING manager who really went above and beyond; email me if you’re interested and I’ll send the details!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 27, 2013

      Yes, Vietnam is very exotic and VERY different. Which is one thing I love about it, even if I don’t care for Hanoi so much.

      Countries often have different foods in different regions. I’m glad to hear you liked the food more in the south. I’m looking forward to trying that.

      So far the temps have been pretty similar to Bangkok for us, including the humidity. I know that this is the beginning of their hot season, though.

      We’re heading down south next. We don’t like tourist places generally, and we’ve been moving around so much more than what we prefer for a few months now. So we’re ready to just go somewhere and chill for a while. We’re headed to Dalat next week & will stay there for a few weeks. We fly out of HCMC, so will spend 2-3 days there. Should be quite interesting. LOL

      Reply

      • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
        April 27, 2013

        Don’t go to DaLat! We were literally just there yesterday and it is dreadful. You will have a MUCH better experience if you go north to SaPa. There is a lot more natural beauty there, whereas DaLat is like Niagara Falls/Mini Las Vegas on crack. It’s really touristy, filled with honeymooning Vietnamese people, and is probably the place that has been most like Hanoi in terms of hustle and bustle. All to say, you will not want to spend several weeks there, nor is it a place to just chill out.

        If you are determined to move south rather than heading to SaPa, I highly recommend checking out Ninh Binh and Hue. Both of those places are quite chill, but Hue especially has enough to keep you busy when you want it (gorgeous mausoleums and amazing historic buildings… we went thinking we’d spend 1 day, maybe 2, and happily stayed for 4… it’s a great place to just wander). Also, the food is great!

        Reply

      • Dyanne@TravelnLass
        April 27, 2013

        Uh, “dreadful”, Steph? LOL – Dalat happens to be my own personal Shangri La, and where I’ve opted to make my home for more than a year.

        Sapa is fabulous too, but much more touristy and far too cold in winter for me to choose it as my “home”. Just another case of “you say tomayto” and “I say tomahto”. Great that there’s so many different corners of the world for each of us.

        I did really enjoy reading your expansive impressions of Vietnam, and I very much agree that it’s a shame Talon and Tigger aren’t spending more time in the north (indeed, you nailed it “it’s the most beautiful place we’ve ever been!”

        But Dalat? “dreadful”? LOL, I’m still giggling at that. 😉

        Reply

      • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
        April 27, 2013

        To each her own! We went to DaLat curious as to what we would find as it is so often compared to SaPa, but honestly, I didn’t see much overlap between the two. I suppose SaPa is more touristy, but it’s so easy to get out into the surrounding countryside, which isn’t really very touristy at all, and—for my money—is some of the best of what Vietnam has to offer. We actually liked the bit of country even farther north even more, but that’s far harder to get to for those with just 1 month in the country and without their own transportation.

        I guess our differing opinions just go to show that there’s no substitute for seeing a place for yourself and making up your own mind. We found DaLat overly busy (whether it was with Western tourists was beside the point… we just found the streets really hectic and chaotic) and it just didn’t pop for us. Then again, our opinions about Vietnam might be somewhat subversive as I think we’re the only people to date who have come and avoided HaLong Bay and also disliked Hoi An!

        Anyway, I suppose I shouldn’t have said DaLat was dreadful, as obviously there are people out there who enjoy it quite a lot. It just definitely wasn’t for us, and one day was more than enough! 🙂

        Reply

      • Talon Windwalker
        April 27, 2013

        I’ve heard many good things about pretty much every place in Vietnam other than Hanoi. LOL When we initially planned to come here, I was bemoaning that we’d only have a month because it seems there is just so much to see and explore here. But we need to spend some time not running around so much and just need a place to stay for a while, so we’re going to skip most of the country this time. We’ll return another time when we haven’t been bouncing around so much so that we’ll be up to touring the country more, and will probably apply for longer visas so we have adequate time to really enjoy Vietnam.

        Reply

  15. wandering educators
    April 27, 2013

    i’d go to either place to eat that incredible food!! but bangkok sounds much friendlier.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 27, 2013

      So far I can’t say Hanoi gives Bangkok a run for its money in the food dept, but they definitely have some tasty street food.

      Reply

  16. Canuck88
    April 27, 2013

    Interesting comparison, I found Bangkok very noisy and chaotic, but I guess thinking back the people were all very calm and peaceful. But those tuk tuks are loud! Look forward to visiting Vietnam some day, how touristy is it these days?

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 27, 2013

      There are definitely parts of Bangkok that are more chaotic. Chinatown being one of them. I think the heavy tourist areas are more noisy as well. Yes, the tuk tuks are loud for sure, but compared to the noise level here, I feel they’re quieter.

      I can’t really comment on Vietnam in general since so far we’ve only been in Hanoi. I would say Hanoi is not very touristy, though. There are specific sites that obviously draw more attention and certain areas that tend to have more tourists, but we’ve been in many areas where we didn’t see any other Westerners. Outside of the more touristic spots, it’s very much “daily life.” That is one very thing about it.

      Reply

  17. Dyanne@TravelnLass
    April 26, 2013

    Hmmm… clearly, as one who has lived here in Vietnam for nearly 2 years, I’m a tad biased.

    Also, I’m wondering… you’ve been in Vietnam now what? A grand total of 48? 72 hrs? Not to mention…

    I suppose comparing two large Asian cities is somewhat valid (though as you yourself say – it’s like apples and oranges), I’d be a little careful when comparing all of Thailand (food, culture, etc.) to all of Vietnam – given that you know nothing of Vietnam save for a single city, plus…

    Anybody that’s traveled the length of Vietnam will tell you that the people, the food, the culture, even the language (o.k. but not the motorbike traffic) 😉 is COMPLETELY different in the south vs. the north.

    Sorry to wax grumpy Talon, but it just seems a little premature to start comparing Thailand to Vietnam – leastwise until you’ve explored the latter country a smidge more than a 10 block area of Hanoi.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 26, 2013

      Which is PRECISELY why I didn’t compare Thailand and Vietnam. The name of the post also reflects that (Bangkok and Hanoi). I commented on 2 cities and my experiences and observations in them so far, all of which are similar things I’ve heard from other people who are more familiar with both cities than I am. I’m VERY clear throughout the article to reiterate Bangkok and Hanoi to make it clear I’m not painting all of Thailand or Vietnam with the same brush, which would be preposterous.

      I would never write about a whole country based on one city much less such a limited amount of time. I would venture to say every country has differences across regions, cities, etc. Even if I had spent 10 year in Hanoi, if I never ventured much beyond it, I wouldn’t feel qualified to comment about the country as a whole.

      Reply

      • Dyanne@TravelnLass
        April 26, 2013

        True, you did indeed (as usual) present mostly a fair comparison of just the two cities, but I guess it was blurbs like “Vietnamese food is really quite good, but Thai food kicks it culinary butt in my book.” that made me think that you were already – in a handful of days in but one city – comparing the two countries across the board.

        Reply

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