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Jul 01, 2023 / 06:59

What makes Hanoi leapfrog in global livability ranking in 2023?

Hanoi ranks among the top five cities in the world with the most significant improvements in overall livability.

One year on, Vietnam's capital has moved up 19 places to 129th out of 173 cities in this year's Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) liveability rankings.

The right recovery, friendly people, ancient values, and unique cuisine have helped Hanoi to dramatically move up in the list of the world's most livable cities in 2023.

 The daily life of Hanoians in the Old Quarter. File Photo

Great improvement

According to The Economist, the EIU's 2023 list has marked Hanoi among the top 10 highest climbers in just one year. Compared to some of the world's largest cities, this rise is quite fast.

Upasana Dutt, head of the EIU's Livability Index, explains that recovery policies after the Covid-19 pandemic helped some cities improve their position dramatically. The second thing is education as children returned to schools alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems.

The EIU rates living conditions in 173 cities in five categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

Cities in the Asia-Pacific region have recovered the most. The index also suggests that life in cities is slightly better than at any time in the past 15 years.

Vienna, the capital of Austria, maintained its top position on the list. Meanwhile, Copenhagen, Denmark and Australia's Sydney ranked second and third respectively on the list of the world's most livable cities. 

 A corner of Hanoi. Photo: Loi Pham

What makes Hanoi a "livable city"?

There remain many problems regarding urban infrastructure, traffic, and the environment. Hanoi is still a city with many opportunities and potential to become a "livable city", said architect Pham Thuy Loan, a Vietnamese urban planning expert.

"Hanoi is beautiful and livable in many ways for locals and foreign tourists," she said. She argued that Hanoi offers a wide range of free art and cultural activities. People can watch movies, listen to music, attend interesting talks, or visit exhibitions... at various cultural centers in Hanoi, such as L'Espace, the Goethe Institute, the Korean Cultural Center in Vietnam, the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam, and others.

"Young people who love vibrant nightlife can go to Hoan Kiem Lake Pedestrian Street to enjoy attractive and free street arts or visit lively bars in the Old Quarter," she suggested.

 Part of Hanoi's Old Quarter on an early summer day. Photo: Pham Minh Duc

According to Loan, as the country's cultural and educational center, Hanoi offers great learning, research and development opportunities for people, especially the young.

Hanoi is also special because everyone can find a place for themselves regardless of the rich, the poor, intellectuals, or unskilled workers.

And everyone can find a pretty comfortable life in their circumstances and conditions.

In particular, Hanoi has beautiful nature with many rivers, lakes, fields near the city, and streets lined with trees. It also has a long history of thousands of years, an extremely important foundation for sustainable development.

Historian Le Van Lan The Hanoi Times that Hanoi's attraction also lies in its unique cuisine.

"Food is one of the most popular experiences for international tourists when they visit the city," he said. 

Hanoians cheer on Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as he drinks bia hoi in Hanoi on June 3, 2023. Photo: Anthony Albanese's Twitter

Visitors can easily enjoy Hanoi's specialties at sidewalk stalls with countless attractive dishes such as Pho Bo (beef noodle soup), Bun Cha (grilled pork with fresh vermicelli), Banh Mi (Vietnamese-style baguette bread), and others. They can also start a new wonderful day in the city with a cup of iced or egg coffee with the bold characteristics of Hanoi.

It's also familiar to locals that many world leaders strolled the streets, drinking Bia Hoi (Hanoi draft beer) and sampling street food in residents' hospitality. 

Former French President Francois Hollande once took a walk in the Old Quarter while former US President Barack Obama ate Bun Cha on Le Van Huu Street.

More recently, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ate bread and enjoyed Bia Hoi on Duong Thanh Street. Korean Prime Minister Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife enjoyed Vietnamese dishes at a restaurant by Hoan Kiem Lake.

"Hanoi is not only 'liveable' for locals and foreigners, but also extremely safe and friendly for world leaders," Historian Le Van Lan concluded.