Today's article by Mary Charie is about living and working remotely in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam with a population of over 7 million. Mary travels the world and blogs about her adventures which you can follow on her website and Facebook. This post is part of our series on popular digital nomad destinations around the world, which is not intended to sell you on a destination or steer you in any direction, but rather present one nomad’s viewpoint from two different perspectives. Here goes 5 Pros & 5 Cons To Living and Working Remotely in Hanoi, Vietam.
Vietnam is truly a must-see when you travel in Southeast Asia. Not the first time 18-year-old backpacker would miss the chance to explore the streets of Hanoi nor the old guy who ditched his desk to add some spices in his corporate life. Hanoi welcomes all types of travelers, those who are looking to just relax by Ha Long Bay, taking a semester break, or those who actually looking to move to Vietnam will find at least one thing to love about Hanoi.
My first destination as a digital nomad was Vietnam. I was only working part time with my computer that time, therefore, there was no need for me to check if Hanoi was fit for remote workers. After travelling for three months in Southeast Asia, I was hopping back into Hanoi every month, there was something that drags me back there. Eventually, I had to work more on my computer and travel slower, guess where was my home base for almost three months? Yes, Hanoi.
To be honest, Hanoi is not the ideal place people with a regular job would wish to spend their location independent life. Hanoi has no beach nor mountain nearby. It’s a city far from the coast, far from nature. But it’s a city that’s definitely something to consider. To answer your question if Hanoi is actually good for remote workers, here are my 5 pros and 4 cons to living and working remotely in Hanoi Vietnam.
5 Pros To Hanoi Vietnam for Digital Nomads
#1) The Food
There’s no way you will leave Hanoi without saying “I will definitely going to miss those noodles!”. Vietnam entirely is famous for their locals dishes. I myself is guilty of all day noodles sometimes bread days is enough for me! I was literally eating noodles and bread every day.
The thing is, Vietnamese food is very healthy! From Bun Bo Nam Bo to Bahn My (pronounced like bang me!) are the two must tries when you visit. If you think Vietnamese restaurants from your hometown is good enough, oh boy, you need to see how far your $5 can go on the streets of Hanoi filled with tiny plastic chairs. Another plus points for Hanoi and its food, vegetarians and vegans can easily find the food for them here!
#2) The Locals
The locals are one of the warmest people I met after 3 and a half years of living and travelling the world. Aside from I was taken to top-secret places by my locals to try the best food in town or enjoy the luxurious coffee, the locals will not have a second thought to invite you to their homes for a meal.
This doesn’t sound enough for you? How about when a Vietnamese family took me in their home for a month, fed me, made me feel like part of the family then I don’t think how else I can convince you.
#3) Cost of Living
The cost of living in Vietnam is still affordable, despite the fact that there are tonnes of Westerners and Europeans living here to teach English. Hanoi still offers great deals for remote workers. You can find an apartment between $150-$250/month, $300 and up can lead to a luxurious apartment. The cost of a sim card and have an unlimited mobile data, locals calls, and local texts costs between $5-$7/month. A dollar food is everywhere in Hanoi whilst driving a motorbike is very common, you can buy one for as low as $170.
#4) Coffee is Life
If you are one of those people who found love and life in coffee, then you and Hanoi will have a long lasting relationship with this. I am not a coffee person myself but I found myself enjoying them once in a while especially during the winter. Coffee is part of the local culture of the Vietnamese and is now praised worldwide.
#5) Weather is Cool
Alright, to be fair, I personally love winter. Like almost all tourists visiting Hanoi, I was surprised that this South-east Asian capital actually experiences winter. During the end of December up to late February, Hanoi could get quite cold. I was there the whole winter where I experienced 4 degrees Celsius. I loved it and hate at the same time – I’ll explain later why I hated it.
5 Cons To Hanoi Vietnam for Digital Nomads
#1) The Winter
Well, even I enjoyed winter, I was not prepared for it. I didn’t have any warm clothes to fight the cold temperature nor wanted to spend money on buying one because it's not on the budget. I went through the winter wearing layers and not leaving my dorm room longer than I need too.
I think the craziest thing is that the houses in Hanoi don't have house insulation for this time of the year. I literally wore my jumper, three layers of clothing under that, leggings, and a pair of socks whilst sleeping at night. Note that I was using a heavy blanket on top of me too! Some people can afford to have an AC in their rooms which can turn into heater during winter. So, if you think you can’t brave the winter of Hanoi by drinking hot coffee and boiling pho, then maybe skip this city on December to February.
#2) Animal Cruelty
I know I mentioned that vegans and vegetarians can easily find a place of haven for them here, as much as Hanoians love vegetables they have an eye for meat too! Locals do eat different types of meat and love seafood! You can also find some people who enjoy eating dog meat.
I was not a vegetarian when I moved in Hanoi but I was one when I left three months later. What pushed me to the edge of quit eating meat was the moment I was travelling the whole country of Vietnam and came across the trucks that deliver pigs and chickens. Not to mention how the locals carry these animals at the back of their motorbikes. If you can’t take this, perhaps Hanoi is not ideal for you.
#3) The Internet
To be honest, I was not very sure if I should add this under cons. I know this is something you have been waiting for me to discuss. The thing is, Hanoi has a decent internet speed. Please note that I am comparing with other South-east Asian countries I have been. The problem is, it’s not as fast as I expect it to be nor was reliable. I remembered every time the rain started to pour, the internet speed starts to drop as well.
I mean, if a person cannot do anything outside when it’s raining, it’s a good time to work on the computer. But how, if the internet is not as good as it should be too?
#4) The Ripoff
Okay, to be fair, I don’t want to include this on the list as I believe a touristy place will always lead to locals trying to rip you off. That’s the price you pay going to top destinations, unfortunately, Hanoi is one of these. I have experienced being ripped off a couple of times and I was not very pissed about that. Hanoi is still not a very rich country, therefore, locals are trying to do anything to take advantage of the tourism. But I also believe I need to tell you to be ready that this will happen not once but maybe a couple of times too as you adjust in the surrounding.
#5) The Pollution
Hanoi is not far from China and if full of motorbikes, which I believe why this city has a thick air pollution up in the open space. Hanoi could lead to a sunny day but not in my six months of travelling and living in Hanoi I have seen a clear blue sky. Almost everyone wears face mask to fight this awful pollution.
What's the verdict on Hanoi Vietnam?
Indeed Hanoi seems like a great place to settle and be immersed in a new culture. Surround by affordable cost of living, smiling locals, most delicious food, and beautiful places to visit. However, the internet is a massive bar to include when finding the best place for remote workers and that’s something Hanoi cannot compete especially on the rainy season.
Still, come visit Hanoi and see it for yourself. There is more than one thing to love about this city. I honestly see myself coming back for a visit one day!
Read more from our series on Popular Nomad Destinations:
- 20 Things I Loved / Hated About Medellín Colombia as a Digital Nomad
- What I Loved / Hated About Living in Quito Ecuador as a Digital Nomad
- 7 Pros & 6 Cons to Living and Working Remotely in Makati Manila Philippines
- 9 Pros & 4 Cons to Living and Working Remotely in Medellin, Colombia
- 9 Pros & 7 Cons to Living and Working Remotely in Vodice, Croatia
- 8 Pros & 11 Cons To Living and Working Remotely In Boracay, Philippines
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