All you need to know before moving to Hanoi



With favourable climate, low cost of living, lenient immigration rules and plenty of working opportunities, Hanoi is fast gaining traction from the expat community. Unlike modernised cities dotted with skyscrapers, Hanoi brings its own local flavour with delicious street food and scenic lakes. Unfortunately, the large volume of motorbikes on the road has led to traffic jams and air pollution.

Hanoi is Vietnam's second largest city, followed by Ho Chi Minh. It is the capital of North Vietnam from 1954 to 1976 and still stands as Vietnam's capital after the reunification of the country in 1976 after the Vietnam War. In the Hanoi metropolitan district, there are 6.5 million residents.

The official language through all of Vietnam, including Hanoi, is Vietnamese. Expats who find work in high positions may be able to get by on English alone, however, as many corporate environments choose to work in the language. However, most storekeepers will not speak more than a few phrases in English, which makes learning the local language important for getting around outside the main city. A small percentage of the population speaks many Chinese dialects, especially Cantonese and Teochew, though Mandarin is not common.

As far as expatriates are concerned, Hanoi is a great city that effortlessly balances modern lifestyles and affordable cost of living. With its combination of natural beauties, delectable cuisine and a bustling nightlife, not to mention its fascinating colonial architecture, foreigners easily fall for this South-east Asian city.


Hanoi has a tropical climate, with two distinct seasons; wet and dry. The wet season typically lasts from May to late November and the dry season is expected from December through April. During the wet season, it can rain more than 23 days of the month, and expats are advised to always carry an umbrella.

April is the hottest month of the year, reaching an average high of 94.3° F (34.6° C). December is the coolest month, with temperatures reaching lows of 70.5° F (21.4° C) in the evenings.


Recycling is not a common practice in Hanoi, or in Vietnam at all. There are some fledgeling recycling programs in the city, but as recycling is not as convenient as in many Western countries, most simply toss recyclables with other trash.

Both air and water contain sometimes dangerous levels of pollutants, and expats are advised to drink only bottled water and wear face masks on days when air pollution is exceptionally bad. The levels of air pollution are not nearly as bad as some neighbouring cities, but with the levels of traffic on the road and low-quality fuel on the market the situation is set to get worse soon unless more strict initiatives are put in place. Many locals wear a mask when they go out.

Essential relocation information



Hanoi is the political capital of Vietnam, and though it's only second to Ho Chi Minh in terms of finance, economy, and size, Hanoi also offers a lot of opportunities for working expats

Hanoi ranks highest in the Human Development Index among all the cities in Vietnam, and although Ho Chi Minh City is still the current capital of commerce in the country, Hanoi is starting to catch up and is the fastest GDP growth in the country in recent years. Hanoi is simply one of the best cities for expats in Southeast Asia, and if you’re planning to move, or already on your way to living in this great city, well, you’re in for the time of your life. There are surely lots of things waiting for you in this city, now let us help with your relocation, by walking you through some of the most important things for your move.


Prepare for a typical humid subtropical climate in Hanoi. There will be no need for thick jackets or coats in this country, but do prepare for monsoon rain and very hot and humid summers. Working expats in the city should also note that the Vietnamese people are very patriotic, and it will be good to avoid bringing up the Vietnam War.

In preparation for your move to Hanoi, you should prepare a checklist for all the steps of moving. The list will help you remember everything you need to do and help you stay organised for your move. Another thing you should do before your move is do proper research. Check the best areas to live for your lifestyle, price range, and proximity to work and school. Research local culture and customs and don’t forget to book your moving company (if you need one) in advance. It would also be good to sort out all your belongings to see which ones you’ll take with you, throw away, leave behind, or donate. Sorting your items will also help you determine which kind of shipping option you should take by having a better gauge of the amount of things you’ll take with you.

House and Apartment Hunting

There’s quite a large range of options for housing in a city like Hanoi. The best way to find housing is to go to the most prominent real estate websites such as Hanoi Housing, Hanoi Real Estate, and Alpha Housing. Be mindful though, that as most agents think that expats will be willing to pay more, they might raise the price range and add a few more fees. You should do your proper research and see the average housing prices for the type of housing you’re looking for. It’s also important to be firm about the type of accommodation that you’d like, as most agents will jump on assumptions when it comes to handling expats.

Moving Your Belongings

There are several international moving companies that offer services for shipping and removals in Hanoi, but what you need to figure out first is the stuff that you would move. The size of your move largely determined the means in which you can move them, and which moving option would be best for your situation. A sea freight or air freight will be best for partial or whole household moves, meaning if you will be moving a large amount of furniture and appliances, air or sea freight will be the best means of moving. The cost of sea freight from the US (Los Angeles) to Hanoi can range from $1,800-3,800.

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How to live like a local 



Hanoi is a very loud and bustling city. It can be a bit daunting for working expats who aren't used to motorbikes that don't obey traffic rules, yelling street vendors, and the kind of organised chaos that most cities in South-East Asia experience.

The population in Hanoi has been rapidly growing year by year, at a rate of about 3.5% per year. A large percentage of the population is under 20 years old, though the life expectancy in the country is good. Hanoi is a very homogenous city, with the vast majority of residents (between 85-90%) of Viet origin. The largest foreign group in the country are the Chinese, who make up around 6% of the foreign population. There are very small minorities of over one hundred additional ethnicities in the city.

Food and culture

Around 80% of the population in Hanoi practices Buddhism, Taoism and/or Confucianism. Catholics are the next most highly represented group, with about 11% of residents practising this. 7% do not practice religion or are unknown, and the small remainder is made up of those practising Islam, other sects of Christianity, Hinduism and some older ethnic religions.

Food is a very big part of Vietnamese culture. Some Vietnamese specialties to eat are Pho, Banh MiThit (pork sandwiches), Com Tam (rice with meat and vegetables) and Banh Xeo (omelettes). While food prices have been rapidly increasing as Hanoi becomes more cosmopolitan, prices are still incredibly inexpensive for expats coming from more pricey countries. Bakeries in the city also whip out fantastic French desserts and foods, known from the city’s colonial past. As a hotspot in the country for tourists and expats, it is also easier to find a wide variety of ethnic foods from around the world than anywhere else in the country.

Shopping & Leisure

For savvy expats, it can be easy to score great deals on everything from clothing to appliances to technology. Most storekeepers in shopping areas will inflate prices, especially for foreigners, but with a few smiles and a little push, it is easy to get a fair price. The rule of thumb is simply not to name a price until the owner has told you how much he or she would charge first, as expats risk paying more than necessary without knowing the average price range.

Hanoi is a fantastic destination to buy silks, silver, clothes and crafts. A few must-see stops for everything from ceramics to silk suits are Hong Hoa, GiaiDieu and Quang's Ceramics. NhaTho Street and Delta Deco are also popular options for tourists and expats.

Ly Nam De Street and Le Thanh Nghu Street are famous for their electronic goods if you plan on buying a new computer or camera during your stay.

For clothing, stores like Trang Tien Plaza, Hang Dau Street and NhaTho Street, as well as Xuan Dieu Street are great bets, though you must be wary when purchasing brand name goods. Chances are the products are not real and may give up quickly.

Grocery shopping in Hanoi is likely to be much cheaper than back home, but finding imported products can be a hassle if you don't know where to look. Even then, not all products will be carried, and some creative substitution may be necessary. Intimex is one of the biggest superstores in Hanoi and a great bet if you're tired of haggling and just want an easy shopping experience. For Western foods, Western Canned Foods as well as Gourmand Shop, although of course, these options will be much more expensive than local shops.

Noi Bai International Airport services Hanoi and the surrounding areas. It takes around 30-45 minutes to make it from the airport to the city centre.



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