The experience of backpacking through Southeast Asia would not be fulfilling without spending a night at a backpackers’ hostel. Among all the experiences I have had so far in Southeast Asia, one of the best was in Vietnam at the Downtown Hostel - a branch of Vietnam Backpacker Hostel in Hanoi. It was fun, memorable and safe to spend the night there, and I would definitely recommend the place to any backpacker planning to visit the city. Here are the reasons why.
Its central location and outdoor space are great qualities
Located on Ma May street in the Old Quarter, the Downtown Hostel can be easily spotted as you would come across many foreign backpackers as you pass by the hostel’s entrance. Regardless of how bustling its surroundings are, you can always find a quiet corner by the balcony to enjoy a cup of Vietnamese ice coffee in the early morning or a bottle of Hanoi beer at nights. All this while watching motorbikes and pedestrians passing by the street of Ma May in their organized chaos.
Decent quality at affordable prices
There aren’t too many places around the world where you can get a hostel dorm bed with decent quality for such a low price as 180,000 VND (about 8 USD). Even in Bangkok, you would be likely to end up in a freaking cheap but crappy hostel and suffer terrifying cleaning and reception service at such price.
At Hanoi Downtown, you will appreciate their well-designed room equipped with proper air-conditioning, a clean female-shared bathroom, and a great view of the city from the window. I had my own locker and room key so as to make sure that only the staff and roommates could enter my space. Keep in mind that when traveling in Southeast Asia, it is significantly important to feel safe in a hostel.
One of the best bars downtown can be found here!
What I enjoyed the most about the stay at Hanoi Downtown was their bar, which was open 24/7. You could literally get any drink there, from coffee during day time to beer and alcoholic beverages at night. The staff are friendly and serve quickly. Drinks are two times cheaper here compared to most bars and clubs downtown, so be prepared to get yourselves some drinks before heading out to other pubs. Foreigners would be a bit surprised and even disappointed with the music scene in Hanoi, as most clubs here play the same type of electronic music that may be a bit out of date. But they do have slightly better and up-to-date music played at the hostels.
A spot for movie lovers, and pool tables too
But don’t end up spending most of your time chilling at the bar and miss out on the 5th floor. Here they perfectly fit a pool table, a bunch of computers and even a television nicely placed in the corner of the cinema space. It is a nice spot for guests to sit down and relax with a movie or two. You would definitely enjoy staying out of the bustling hectic parties and crazy crowded traffic of Hanoi for awhile.
They offer plenty of activities
What I valued most about the Downtown Hostel is their wide range of activities such as beer pong, pub-crawls and walking tours. Especially when the football European Championship is going on, one must not miss a night watching football with fellow guests. The staff even placed a projector on the first floor just for the football fans. All events can be attended for free by guests.
Enjoy the charm of Vietnam
Last but not least, you would get free travel advice for traveling across the country and the possibility to book plenty of nice tours around the area. They include tours to Halong Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sapa (famous in the North of Vietnam), and important cities such as Da Nang (largest city of Central Vietnam), Hue (former capital), Hoi An (famous for the old town) and more. Also, don’t miss out on the biggest city in the country and the capital of the South - Ho Chi Minh. Vietnam Backpacker Hostel is a good option with hostel branches located in almost all of these mentioned cities.