Things to do in Hanoi
There are tons of amazing things to do in Hanoi. When I travel to a new destination, I like searching for ideas to inspire me on how I can spend time there. While there is a great amount of information from travel websites, I always realise that there’s always something more. I mean specifically, some things and places only locals know about.
As I’ve lived in Hanoi for over a year now, I am still discovering the city. I find and learn about new information and insights from my local friends and media sources. Because I have a great passion to share the local insights and some hidden things to do in Hanoi, I wrote a complete list of awesome and fun things do to in Hanoi based on my ideas, experiences and local inspirations.
Here’s the post of Hanoi’s Bucket List which you can check out.
Special "Thing to Do in Hanoi" - Help Hanoi's Homeless
Within this bucket list, I included Helping Hanoi’s Homeless. Frankly speaking, it was also on my bucket list at the time I was writing that. Then I recently joined this event and I had a very touching and inspiring experience that I think can be added to your list of things to do in Hanoi.
Firstly, I came across their Facebook page from Hanoi Massive Community FB page, which is like a go-to community group for any questions or information you have to share with others. I noticed that anytime someone posts on Hanoi Massive Community about where to donate clothes or things, Help Hanoi’s Homeless constantly popped up in comments.
So I was drawn to check their page out.
About Help Hanoi's Homeless
A great video introducing Christopher Axe, the founder of Help Hanoi’s Homeless and what he and other volunteers do. I think he’s a true inspiration and I love what he said about a drop in the ocean creating a ripple effect. I really believe a small act of kindness may seem small, but it is not and it’s capable of leaving a great positive impact on others.
Below is from the About page on their Facebook page:
“We meet every Thursday at 10pm at Ga Ha Noi Main railway station. Bring some food, toiletries, medical supplies, baby supplies or clothing, and help to make life a little easier for the homeless around Hanoi.
HHH aims not only to help the homeless by providing them with food and comforts which they might otherwise not be able to afford, but also to help humanise those who suffer marginalisation and discrimination, helping to build bonds in the community and foster progression based on goodwill.”
I discovered them about a month ago. As I read about their purpose, I was feeling really inspired and motivated to join them one day. So I immediately started looking for unused clothes, blankets and anything I could find on their list of things I could bring.
But as it was Vietnamese Lunar New Year, plus I was procrastinating when Thursday night came, few weeks went by. However, eventually, another Thursday came and I made up my mind that I’ve got to put into action. And just Go!
It was the week after the Lunar New Year. I asked my boyfriend if he’d like to join and I’m really thankful that he came. I had things packed up before like some blankets, cardigan and t-shirts. Just before we headed out for the 10PM meeting, I went through the list of useful supplies to bring. I found that any kinds of food like boiled eggs can be helpful. So I boiled some eggs we had at home.
The meeting point is at Hanoi Train station on Le Duan street at the far right end of the station. Christopher Axe was away in another country, so this week was run by Stacey who’s been doing it for few years.
When I arrived, there were three people waiting and more people came soon. There were about 10 people eventually. I was happy to see that there were that many people, but Stacey said there are usually many more volunteers! There were restaurant owners who brought lots of boxes of food as well as others like me who brought all kinds of clothes, shoes, food and more.
The route was to go to 6 different spots either with a motorbike or a car. Usually, people bring their vehicle, but if you do not have one or cannot drive, you can just reach out to them and they will help you out with organising your transportation for the run.
When we arrived at each spot, there were either homeless people expecting and waiting for us or we walked around to look for them. There was no assorting or organising of the supplies before departure. So it was up to us to distribute and offer our things to the homeless people. For me, it took some time to observe how it goes and soon I understood the flow.
I was really surprised to see that there were some certified volunteers to help with medical issues. For instance, there was an old lady with a deep wound on her thigh and a nurse was there to help her with that. Stacey said they go visit her twice a week to check on the wound and I was just feeling absolutely stunned and amazed with their effort and willingness to help.
Most of the homeless people we met were awake, but when we saw some sleeping, we stopped and left some food or clothes by their side.
So how was it for me?
I cannot express the feeling of warmth and satisfaction of seeing some of them put on a smile with a new blanket to keep them warmer in the winter. The brief but hearty connection I could feel between some of them with a short conversation was incredibly touching.
At one spot, I met a very old lady selling some snacks and I bought one from her and gave it to someone else at the next stop. So I felt like there’s always some way to help someone. And it’s a magnificent feeling. In short, I can say it was one of the most heart-warming experiences in my life.
Also, some of the volunteers I talked to were people full of love and positivity. I have so much respect for them for what they do and also the fact that most of them have been doing this every week for months to years.
Would you add this to your "Things to do in Hanoi" list?
I heard that there are quite some travellers who have clothes or things that they want to leave behind here and not take home. And maybe you do too. Even if you don’t have anything to give, you can always buy some things like water, snacks, noodles or medication supplies to bring.
If you’re in Hanoi on a Thursday, I highly recommend this to be on your list of things to do in Hanoi. Your time and help can really be hugely appreciated by those in need.
Lastly, if you cannot make it to the Thursday event, but want to participate, there are different ways to help. Such as donating clothes to:
– Papa Shop to support disadvantaged youths
– Peace Shop to combat human trafficking and domestic violence (women’s clothes only)
– Green Gem Shop to support Keep Hanoi Clean (Xanh lên) and help to support the local community.
– Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation for blankets, as they are in great need of them at the moment.
There are other ways you can help too and you can check out Help Hanoi’s Homeless Facebook page for more information.
Thursday Meeting Point
Address: 120 Đường Lê Duẩn, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Meeting Point: When facing the station, meeting point is on the far right end.
Help Hanoi’s Homeless Facebook Group link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HELPHANOISHOMELESS/