Hostels, more than one might imagine, plays a compelling role in shaping much of our travels. From thoughtfully designed communal spaces that stimulate interaction among travelers, to meticulously designed budget tours and activities that help us explore a city, hostels lay down the tracks that enables the endless train of travelers to pass through a city in a memorable way.

For some of us, choosing a good hostel with more than just a bed can prove to be more work than is necessary, especially if we’re short on recommendations in a new city. And it doesn’t help if there are numerous hostels with equally good locations, similar price points and the same mix of online reviews to choose from. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list five hostels in Hanoi with the best backpacker spirit – a list that can hopefully serve to guide travelers to their ideal hostels. In no particular order, here is the list.

1. Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel – Downtown

One look at this establishment and you could say with a certain degree of certainty that all of Hanoi’s backpackers have gathered here for a night of fun and revelry. The hostel does a pretty good job drawing in thirsty crowds every evening at its spacious bar and communal area, but that’s not the only thing it’s good at. Located on Ma May street and central to pretty much everything, this establishment is a default option for most. All of its dorm rooms are clean, the beds are spacious and inviting, and all rooms feature lockers, air-con, fans and windows. The seven-storey building also has a private guest-only lounge on the fifth floor which makes for a pretty chill place to kick back and relax. The staff here are particularly well trained and customer-centric (which is rare and always a plus for a hostel). All of this for US$7 a night makes for a pretty good deal.

The busy streets of Ma May with throngs of backpackers at the Hanoi Backpacker Hostel

The busy streets of Ma May with throngs of backpackers at the Hanoi Backpacker Hostel

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This hostel however is not for everyone. If you’re looking for something a bit more quieter, homely or traditional, then this hostel wont suit you.

2. Hanoi Youth Hostel

If the crowd isn’t making a hostel special, it’s the people that manage them that do. Hanoi Youth Hostel has a friendly family crew running the show and that makes all the difference. They’re lovely to talk to and will make sure you’re always sorted, be it for tours, getting around the city, a recommendation or anything really – they’ll jump at the first opportunity to lend a helping hand. Hanoi Youth Hostel doesn’t go overboard with the partying. Although certain nights can have more people than can fit into it’s tiny bar, most nights the atmosphere is relaxed and enjoyable and just the right distance from the noisy and crowded street of Ma May without being too far from the heart of the action.

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The rooms are basic and clean with shared bathrooms, but at US$5 a night which includes free breakfast, its a steal! They also provide tours around Hanoi and you’ll never be made to feel pressured to purchase any of them.

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Good times!

3. The Drift Backpackers’Hostel

The Drift Backpacker Hostel gives you the ultimate bang for your buck! With US$2.5 a night for a room, the price is a huge differentiating factor from most options in town. But that’s not the only thing this establishment has up its sleeve. $2.5 will also get you free breakfast made to order and free beers during happy hours, making it a popular destination for people tight on budget.

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The communal area is narrow but spacious and always filled up. The staff are friendly and will go out of their way to help you. This place also has much of the vibe that exudes from a family run hostel and you’ll easily find yourself befriending the locals that run the place. The location however is a bit off central, but close enough to Hoan Kiem Lake and the rest of the Old Quarters.

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4. Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel – The Original

The Hanoi Backpacker Hostel, a sister establishment of Hanoi Backpacker Hostel – Downtown has a slightly more toned down vibe. Its not as loud as the Downtown hostel, mostly due to its smaller size but still manages to maintain a lively atmosphere during the evenings. The communal areas feel more open and intimate when not a venue for a bar and they even host bbq nights on their rooftop, which gives one plenty of options to meet and mingle.

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The hostel offers clean dorms with comfortable beds including lockers and although their private rooms are more on the pricier end, their dorm beds start at $7 a night making it quite affordable.

Their signature tours, namely The Buffalo Run from Hanoi to Hoi An and the famous Ha Long Bay and Castaways Island Tour (both available at the Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel – Downtown) are among the most sought after tours for backpackers.

5. Hanoi Rock Hostel

This is another hostel where the crowd swarms as darkness falls but its got a unique vibe of its own. There’s always a hubbub of travelers around the lobby and communal area on the first floor where you’ll feel like there’s always someone around to meet and talk to. Its a modern looking establishment with a spacious communal area that also hosts a bar offering a good range of beers and alcohol. Food is served too but most might find it expensive. The five-storey building is big in comparison to most accommodation options in town where they mostly occupy narrow shop houses. The hostel also features a rooftop bar with pretty good views of the city.

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They also boast quite a wide range of facilities and events that are more than luxurious for the backpacker crowd. Along with a pool table, table tennis and a cinema, a brand new gym and spa are also in the works. And as if that was not enough, they also host live music three nights a week and frequently organize party games and offer free beers for two hours every night.

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All these luxuries might I say for a small price of US$7 makes this a great additions to Hanoi’s hostel scene. The rooms itself are modern, clean and comfortable. They offer both mixed and single sex dorms in spacious rooms throughout all of its five floors.

So there you go, the best hostels in Hanoi with the best backpacker spirit.

If however hostels are not your thing and you’d rather Airbnb your accommodation in Hanoi, check out this guide for the best Airbnb in Vietnam. 

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Akash has been living and working in Southeast Asia for the last two years building a business in travel and tech. He typically finds himself eating too much in the places he is in.