Hanoi Holidays: An Essential Guide For Solo Female Travellers
Vietnam is famed for being a hotspot for solo travellers. It is filled with friendly locals, has yummy yet affordable food options, and offers an exciting blend of modernity and history. Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, in particular, is an ideal spot for wanderlusters who enjoy culture, taking Instagrammable Hanoi photos, and experiencing Vietnamese nightlife.
Hanoi, which means the City of Lakes, is the country’s second largest city by population. This Vietnam city was named a City for Peace by UNESCO in 1999 and is rated as one of the most popular destinations for female solo travellers. Compared to other Asian cities, Hanoi streets are relatively safe with convenient transport options. Having said that, it is still important for any female solo traveller to take regular safety precautions.
The Pan Pacific Hanoi team recommends five safety tips for women travelling solo in Hanoi.
Dress modestly when exploring the streets
It is a good habit for solo travellers to dress modestly in Hanoi—or any other city in Vietnam, a relatively conservative country.
As a popular holiday destination, Hanoi attracts an abundance of tourists dressed for the subtropical Hanoi weather. You can still be fashionable and Instagram-worthy in a light long-sleeved cotton blouse or covered yet comfortable in sundresses or slacks.
One of the more popular places to visit in Hanoi is the historic Old Quarter. There is an abundance of restaurants, sights and of course, shopping. You can experience Vietnamese street food and bring home some souvenirs.
Do consider getting yourself and your girlfriends the Ao Dai (the traditional Vietnamese long dress) sets from the stores here.
TRAVEL TIP:To avoid unwarranted attention, wear a ring on your ring finger. This might be the best way to prevent unwanted invitations.
Stay safe on and off the roads as a solo traveller
Vietnam is an extremely safe country to travel in, according to Lonely Planet. However, it is still wise to err on the side of caution. One of the common issues travellers of all genders face, not just in this city, but others too, is petty theft. This includes pickpocketing as well as thefts of cameras, laptops, and mobile phones.
Keep all your valuables well out of sight. To play it safe, put your DSLR camera or micro-4/3rds in your bag when you are not taking pictures.
Do also beware of theft from motorcycle riders. The trick here is to hang on tight to any bags while walking down the street—doing so reduces the chance that they can be easily grabbed from a moving motorbike.
Feeling like a respite from the bustling Vietnamese streets? Visit the lush Temple of Literature—a quaint, green oasis dotted with landscaped courtyards, manicured gardens, and pretty pavilions. Built as a temple in 1070, the Temple of Literature eventually became Vietnam’s first national university. Do visit early in the day to take pictures before the crowds trickle in.
TRAVEL TIP: Did you know that the Vietnamese language has six different tones? This explains the different accents on and under its letters. Understanding this may save you some time as a single traveller trying to converse with locals when you visit.
Be mindful of your surroundings when taking Hanoi photos
For an antidote to city life, head to the rural Mai Chau (a four-hour drive from Hanoi) for a day of healing and slow living. The best views are courtesy of the area’s rice terraces, set against a postcard-perfect hilly backdrop.
Visit Mai Chau’s surrounding villages, such as Lac and Pom Coong, to connect with Vietnam’s minority communities. This includes the “White Tai” group, whose members have roots in Thailand, Laos, and China. It is your chance to experience the true meaning of life, stripped down to the simplest joys.
Longer stays by eco tour organisations are recommended if you relish the opportunity to work alongside the villagers to pick up farming and fishing techniques, while getting to know them better over a shared meal or two. Day tours that include sightseeing via trekking and cycling are also readily available.
Research and map out your destinations in advance
Before you travel anywhere around Hanoi, spend some time researching the destinations you are visiting. Find out how you can get to different places without looking lost. Understand how the transportation system in the city works, as it often varies from place to place.
For instance, Uber ridesharing service is no longer available in Hanoi. If you wish to get a ride-hailing service instead of a conventional taxi, choose from Grab, Go-Jek, or Aber (in Vietnamese). Before arriving in the city, download the app on your smartphone. This saves you time (and money) fiddling with your phone to install the app when you need the ride.
Visiting religious places such as temples and pagodas? Wear something that covers your knees and shoulders as these places of interest often have strict dress codes.
One of Hanoi’s oldest temples, the Ngoc Son Temple, has a dress code. Sitting on a tiny island in the Hoan Kiem Lake around the Old Quarter, this 18th century Buddhist temple makes a great photography subject. Visitors must be dressed appropriately to enter—the temple does offer long-skirts, sarongs or any other full-body clothing that visitors can borrow for their visit.
Before you head out each day, consult your friendly hotel concierge to get some advice on the places of interest you wish to visit.
Stay safer and sober while enjoying Hanoi nightlife
Wish to party like a rockstar in Hanoi? The city’s vibrant nightlife offers solitary travellers a place to mix with the local crowds. Ta Hien Street, one of Hanoi’s major thoroughfares, is where you can mingle with the locals and grab some local fare. Then head over to Da Liet Street, where cafes offer a wide selection of local beers. You can also visit the Old Quarter for more food, beer and alcohol.
When you hit the nightspots in Hanoi as a solo traveller, however, do be careful of what you drink. Always consume from unopened cans or bottles to make sure what you order is what you get, with nothing extra.
If you are getting a drink from the bar of a club, it is best that you collect the drink direct from the bartender’s hand.
Why not check out the Song Hong Bar at Pan Pacific Hanoi? Order one of their signature cocktails and soak in the sophisticated atmosphere of this modern lounge before calling it a night.
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