Hanoi, Vietnam — After Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, I hopped on a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. As a huge fan of Vietnamese food, I cannot describe how excited I was to finally explore Vietnam (Yes, I had pho and spring rolls every day). From what I have heard from other backpackers in hostels, Hanoi and its surrounding cities are among one of the top destinations for backpackers. In this busy city full of motorbikes and tourists, I found Ronin BJJ Hanoi.
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Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, possesses an ancient Southeast Asian color shaped by the French influence. Within the Old Quarter, travelers can easily find French-colonial architectures and pagodas surrounded by shops and restaurants. With historical structures and delightful Vietnamese cuisines, Hanoi’s unique charm attracts tourists from all around the world. Also, its proximity to Vietnam’s tranquil countryside such as Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh makes the city an ideal destination for travelers to start exploring Southeast Asia.
Ronin: A samurai with no lord or master during the feudal period of Japan
Just like its name, Ronin BJJ Hanoi was established by two local purple belts who aim to spread their love of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to others in Hanoi. The academy, affiliated with BJJ Globetrotters, follows the philosophy of BJJ Globetrotters, and it is common for Ronin BJJ to host travelers to train and share their knowledge.
As much as I wanted to train every day in Hanoi, I was only able to attend one no-gi training due to a tight itinerary. When I reached out to Ronin BJJ via Facebook, I received a prompt and friendly response of “ Welcome, Globetrotter” with the academy’s schedule and location. The gym was located about a 15 min taxi ride away from the city center. Initially, I struggled to find the facility since it was located within an apartment complex. As soon as I walked into Ronin BJJ, I felt immediately welcomed by everyone at the academy.
Although the BJJ community is comparably small in Vietnam, it is impressive to see the growth Ronin BJJ is bringing to the country. The students and instructors were full of energy, and the atmosphere was vibrant. During the session, I realized that I was lucky to live in a country with an easy assess to BJJ. It was inspiring to witness how instructors and students at Ronin BJJ continue to travel to sharpen their skills. As a ronin myself with no home academy or affiliation, Ronin BJJ suits me perfectly, and it is always pleasant to know that I can instantly connect with someone via Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you are in Hanoi, you should join these Ronins for a BJJ training session after enjoying an absurd amount of Vietnamese food. Thank you, Ronin BJJ family.
Location & Facility
Ronin BJJ is located just outside of the Old Quarter. The public transportation system is not as convenient in Vietnam, so I would highly recommend using a mobile app “Grab” (similar to Uber). The taxi ride should not take more than 15min from the Old Quarter. Ronin BJJ’s facility includes a spacious mat space with showers and locker rooms. (Google Map: Link)
Ronin BJJ’s most recent training program is posted below:
Ronin BJJ Hanoi is a BJJ Globetrotters affiliated gym. However, it is always courteous to reach out to the gym before your visit.
– Ronin BJJ’s Website
- Hoàn Kiem Lake — The lake is located in the center of Hanoi surrounding the Ngoc Son Temple. With various restaurants and shops around this scenic lake, Hoan Kiem Lake remains one of the most iconic landmarks in Hanoi.
- Ha Long Bay / Cat Ba Island — Located about 3 hours from Hanoi, Cat Ba island and Ha Long Bay remains the quintessential destinations in Vietnam. This UNESCO World Heritage site will provide travelers with a unique experience of its limestone landscape. You could easily join an organized boat tour, which generally includes food and kayaking.
- Ninh Binh — Compared to popular destinations such as Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa, Ninh Binh is comparably tourist-free. Its complex mountains and caves with beautiful religious structures will provide a serene scenery. Also, do not forget to get a peddle boat ride along the river and through underground caves!
- Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long — Commonly known as the Hanoi Citadel, the Citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty, and it was the political center of the region for 13 consecutive centuries. The Imperial Citadel buildings reflect a unique Southeast Asian culture combining influences from China in the north and the ancient Kindom of Champa in the South.
- Hanoi Weekend Night Market — Hanoi Weekend Night Market is held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The market runs through the Old Quarter all the way to Hoan Kiem Lake. The market is full of roadside stalls with inexpensive t-shirts and fake Raybans and local food vendors offering iconic Hanoi dishes. Be sure to haggle from the opening price!
- Pho & Spring Rolls — Self-explanatory. They taste even better when they are only $3 USD!