3 weeks in Ha Noi / Vietnam - can you please advise on accommodation and give some general advice.
October 18, 2011 7:59 AM   Subscribe

3 weeks in Ha Noi / Vietnam - can you please advise on accommodation and give some general advice.

I’m a guy (30 years old), working in IT, and I’d like to take advantage of my remote work and move to Ha Noi and work from there for 3 weeks.

I’ll be arriving in Ha Noi on October, 31st and leaving on November, 20th .

For work I just need to have my laptop with me, and a solid and fast internet connection (working over vpn). The only drawback is that I have to adhere to European office hours, which in Vietnam appear to be 4 pm to midnight, but that sill leaves me weekends to do some sight-seeing, and I’ll have mornings free as well.

My biggest concern is to find accommodation with a solid internet for my stay, so I can do my work. I could rent a room in a hostel, but I’m not too sure that it’s a good option – too noisy, and too many distractions to be able to focus on work..

Ideally, I’d like to find some people / expats living in Ha Noi that would have a room (with good internet) for rent at a reasonable price that I could work from during those 3 weeks.

Could you please advise if you know of any websites where I could look for such offers / something like craigslist for Vietnam etc?

Also, if you have any advice on what is worth seeing in Vietnam, any ways to make my stay more interesting, ways to meet people , expats and locals, that would be awesome!

Would appreciate any helpful comments!
posted by dmagic to Travel & Transportation around Hanoi, Vietnam (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wish you luck and hope someone has some useful info for you but this seems a slightly tall order in so far as it's only for 3 weeks.

I spent a couple of years there (a few years ago now) and I would normally tell people to just land and stay in a hotel for a couple of days because it's easier to organise things once you're on the ground. Expats stay there a long time generally speaking and a 3-week subrental seems unlikely or random or is only going to manifest through pure luck imho.

So if you're earning western wages (you don't say where you're from) then maybe you'll be best off by staying at a decent hotel (of which there are many) that can guarantee fast web speed. Otherwise you might waste energy and worry about security/web access continuity and a trillion other random timeconsuming things that could come up dealing with strangers that are mostly smoothed out staying at a hotel. It will make the down time more enjoyable I'm sure.
posted by peacay at 8:27 AM on October 18, 2011


Many hotels charge western rates, so that's not always a good idea. My suggestion... there are other techies like you that are Vietnamese both in-country and out. Network with colleagues and find a group who can guide you. They'll tell you the rules of the game and what you can and can't do. This is what I did when I spent time there and I say it's the only way to go.

Things are very inexpensive if you do it well. I found a few expats doing exactly what you are describing, living on $100-200/month for a few weeks. For the record for other readers, the visas are very limited, so this idea does not scale.

I'd prefer HCMC over Ha Noi myself. Rent in the backpacker's district for $10-25 a night. Just don't spend your actual time IN the backpacker's district, plenty of bandwidth around town and lots to see.
posted by dixon1e at 10:02 AM on October 18, 2011


Hanoi is awesome. Love the food and the people.

You need to be aware that a minority of people will try to rip you off though. The price of things is confusing in the first place : because of the very low value of the Vietnamese Dong you have to deal with such large numbers that's it's easy to get confused.

In particular, watch out for the Hanoi taxi drivers doing street pickups.
Lots of them are crooks who've just stuck a Taxi sign on their own car and bought a fake meter. They'll have a very fast running meter, and often a button they press to just add tons of extra money to the fare whenever they want.
If you pay them with a high denomination note like a 500,000 they sometimes do a sleight of hand trick where they switch it for a low value note like a 500, hold up the 500 and act like that's all you gave them and demand more money. (I'm making up the numbers but you get the gist).
One number for a reputable company in my address book is +84 438535353 .
The smaller the "taxi" the more likely it's fake.

The cycle-cab guys can be dodgy too, just make sure you've agreed the price in advance, so they don't try to charge you like $100 for a $5 ride, which happens.

Crossing the street safely was very hard for us at first. Start off latching onto locals and watching what they do, ie they keep a steady pace and expect the tide of scooters to flow around them, not stop. Be careful.

The street food is wonderful and we never got sick. Amazing restaurants too

You should spend a weekend on Ha Long bay on an overnight cruise. They drive you to and from the bay from Hanoi. It was such a great experience cruising around the little islands. There are lots of travel shops in Hanoi selling packages. We went on the Ha Long Ginger.

You can also easily fly around Vietnam on Vietnam Air, which is really cheap if you buy the tickets there.
posted by w0mbat at 1:31 PM on October 18, 2011


Crossing the street safely was very hard for us at first. Start off latching onto locals and watching what they do, ie they keep a steady pace and expect the tide of scooters to flow around them, not stop. Be careful.

I found this difficult, too - the biggest trick is not to stop walking - just step off the curb and walk at a steady pace and the traffic will go around you. Drivers/riders will anticipate where you are going to be and, if you stop, you are at much greater risk of being hit. As suggested, watch and follow the locals the first few times and you'll be fine. It looks terrifying, but it's not at all stressful once you get used to it.

Accommodation is quite cheap by western standards if you book in-country - probably best to book a good hotel (which will ensure your Internet access is up to your requirements) for a couple of nights, then look around when you arrive.

I never had the problems with taxis that w0mbat mentioned, but I was only in Ha Noi for a few days. I found them to be incredibly cheap and plentiful, although you may have to get to a main road to flag one down.

Overall, Ha Noi felt very safe to me (apart from the startling state of the power lines), especially compared with some other SE Asian locations I've visited. My (female) co-worker and I both felt very safe strolling the streets at night and the only harassment came from the postcard sellers, who are very aggressive in 'encouraging' you to buy from them. Also, don't get sucked in by young women collecting money for fake educational organisations.

The money is a bit confusion, simply because of the enormous numbers involved and the various ways prices are displayed (eg '380' could mean 380,000 or 380,000,000), so it pays to be careful. Haggling over prices is expected and quite good-natured.

You probably already know this, but a visit to the Hoa Lo Prison (aka 'Hanoi Hilton') is a must, if only for the startling difference in perspective on the Vietnam War that it will provide you.

Ha Noi is an awesome place and I wish I had been able to spend more time there. I hope you enjoy it!
posted by dg at 7:48 PM on October 18, 2011


Ha Long Bay is worth seeing. If you can make it up to Sapa, do that too.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:13 PM on October 18, 2011


Have a look at the New Hanoian - community website for expats in Hanoi, including classifieds.

On my last work trip to Hanoi, I stayed at one of the Hanoi Elegance Hotels. I did use the internet, but can't remember how fast or slow it was, except that the fact that I don't remember suggests it wasn't too slow. I know the website looks fancy, but I think the prices were not bad and the hotel was good, but not super fancy. They were very responsive, might be prepared to negotiate a deal with you.

Due to building designs, you will often find rooms in hotels and other buildings with no windows. Just something to keep in mind - it could be good if you want to sleep more, but I find it a bit depressing after a bit.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:27 AM on October 19, 2011


Have a look at the New Hanoian - community website for expats in Hanoi, including classifieds.

Hey, that's my site! Nice to get a mention on mefi!

At the risk of self-plugging shamelessly, yes, you could do worse than consult the Ask ANH section of the site (yes, the idea was "borrowed" from Ask Mefi).

You might also try the Hanoi Roommate Pool for accomodation:

http://newhanoian.xemzi.com/en/group/show/40/Hanoi-Roommate-Pool
posted by grubby at 8:51 PM on October 22, 2011


Linked, that would be http://newhanoian.xemzi.com/en/group/show/40/Hanoi-Roommate-Pool
posted by grubby at 8:51 PM on October 22, 2011


Thanks everyone for wonderful suggestions! This is all appreciated! Looking forward to my stay in Ha Noi now.
posted by dmagic at 1:54 AM on October 23, 2011


A tip for internet usage: if you run Windows or Mac OS X you can pick up a 3G USB dongle from Viettel (the best national mobile network) for about 600k VND (~$28).

They come with a ton of credit on them and should easily last you 3 weeks unless you're torrenting a lot.

They're available all over the place. Just look for the signs advertising "DCOM 3G."

If you have one of these plugged in to your lap top you'll have fast internet wherever you go. In my experience Viettel's 3G network is often faster than local ADSL, and as a bonus Viettel's network covers 99% of the country, so even if you want to spend time in the mountains around Sapa you'll have fast internet.

At my in-laws in the mountains there's no running water and no toilet, but I've got 5 bars of 3G and reliable 300 KB/s downloads.
posted by grubby at 2:21 AM on October 23, 2011


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