Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: 6 Interesting Facts

Hanoi (capital city) and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are the two biggest cities in Vietnam. Both provide travelers with multiple sightseeing activities, various shopping opportunities, plenty of food choices, distinctive accommodation, and more. Like Washington D.C. and New York in the United States, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City represent Vietnam’s economic and political centers respectively.

hanoi vs ho chi minhHo Chi Minh City VS Hanoi

When visiting these two cities, you will encounter many interesting differences.

6 Interesting Facts about Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh

1. Urban Size and Population: Hanoi is 3324 square kilometers in size and had a population of around 7 million. Ho Chi Minh is smaller at around 2090 square kilometers in size but has a population of 12 million.

2. International connection: Ho Chi Minh City has the largest airport in Vietnam, Tan Son Nhat International Airport, while Hanoi has the second largest airport in the country, Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport. The airport in Ho Chi Minh provides more international flight connections and is the most popular gateway to the country.

3. City vibe: Hanoi has a more traditional appearance with old quarters, local markets, narrow lanes, and low buildings. Some people say Hanoi provides a more authentic view of Vietnamese life and culture. On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh is a modern city with the tallest skyscraper in Vietnam, newer and broader roads, trendy shopping malls, rooftop bars, and a variety of international restaurants.

4. Housing prices: The best apartments in the old city area of Ho Chi Minh will cost around USD9,000 per square meter while in Hanoi it will only around USD5,000. In business district areas, apartments will costs around USD4,000 per square meter in Ho Chi Minh and around USD3,000 per square meter in Hanoi. It is often said that Ho Chi Minh’s economy is ahead of Hanoi’s by around 5-10 years.

5. Western influence: Ho Chi Minh was greatly influenced by the US and France during the Vietnam War and French colonization. You will see many foreigners from all over the world traveling and living here in both tourist districts and residential areas. There are 19 districts in Ho Chi Minh and the new 7th is international and mainly for foreigners. In Hanoi, you will mostly only see foreigners in tourist areas.

6. Climate: Located in the north of Vietnam and surrounded by mountains, Hanoi is usually cooler than Ho Chi Minh. Take January for example. At this time, the lows in Hanoi are around 14℃ (57.2℉) while in Ho Chi Minh it is around 21℃ (69.8℉).

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh Tour Ideas

Have you got an idea about which city you want to visit during your Vietnam trip? The tours in the surrounding areas of these two cities might help you make your final decision.


To get to the Halong Bay cruise from Hanoi, it takes around 3 hours by car. The cruise company usually arranges a coach bus transfer from the hotel to the pier for free or with additional USD5-10 per person.

Don’t want to share a bus or wait for pickups from different hotels? We’re happy to arrange private transfers with/without an English-speaking guide for you. Contact Asia Highlights to tailor-make your tour.

If you don’t want to spend 6 hours getting to and from Halong Bay and you’re not interested in cruises, then Ninh Binh is a good option. Here you can also enjoy the karst landscapes and countryside scenery of North Vietnam. It takes about 2 hours by car from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Your visit can be arranged within one day with guests returning to their Hanoi hotels the same night.

To reach Sapa from Hanoi, it takes about 6 hours by car or 9 hours by overnight train. Check out the Top Things to do in Sapa.

Ho Chi Minh:

One of the most popular tours near Ho Chi Minh city is visiting the Mekong Delta.

You can take a day trip to Cai Be, Cai Lay, Vinh Long, or Ben Tre which takes around 1.5-2 hours by car. Lush rice paddies, fruit farms, coconut candy workshops, and boat rides will help you escape from hustle and bustle of the city and relax. Among the areas of the Mekong Delta, Cai Lay and Vinh Long are more pristine and untouched, but the tourist facilities in Cai Be and Ben Tre are more developed.

Traveling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh

For the first time visitors to Vietnam, it’s a good idea to explore as much of this stunning country as possible. To do this, most travelers will not choose one city but add both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh together to their trip. There are 3 main ways to get from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh: by train, by bus, and by plane.  

Plane (Best Option): This is the most recommended means of transport for those who want to travel around Vietnam. Flights are short and take about 2 hours from north to south. Though it costs more than traveling by train or bus, flying is time-efficient and also affordable. Some budget airlines even provide ticket fares around USD50.

Train (Second-best Option): The journey by train will take around 34 hours and cost USD60-70. You will need to spend two nights on the train. Traveling this way is a good chance to see the countryside scenery, but be prepared for a bumpy and noisy ride due to the narrow tracks.

Bus (Third-best Option): The time it takes to travel by bus is similar to that of a train ride. There will be several stops on the way for a short rest. You can choose between seat buses and sleeper buses. The one downside of traveling by bus is that it is less spacious making it a big challenge to be comfortable for such a long journey.


Tour Vietnam Your Way with Us

No matter which city you choose to visit or whether you decide to visit both, we’re here ready to work with you to create your personalized Vietnam journey.

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