Hanoi’s Eerie Ghost Town – Lideco Bắc 32

Nikki walks down the road between two rows of half built houses in Lideco Bac 32, Hanoi

Updated June 2nd, 2018.

About the writer:

Dave Noakes, originally from the UK spent 13 years in Barcelona before setting off to Asia at the ripe old age of 34. He loves abandoned buildings, curries and is searching for enlightenment in his spare time.

A ghost town is always an appealing prospect, at least, it is if you’ve got a thing for Urban Exploration. That appeal is ramped up to the nth degree after a couple of days spent in the chaotic centre of Hanoi.

It’s true that fans of urbex are, in their hearts, thrill seekers. However, existing in a permanent state of fight or flight (I couldn’t have predicted how stressful those roads would be) can wear a man down. And so… he seeks solace.

The entrance gateway to Lideco Bac 32
The Gateway to Heaven?

If you find yourself in this position, there’s no better place to head than the abandoned streets of Lideco Bắc 32.

The taxi ride from the centre (we tried walking, seriously, don’t bother) costs around $5 USD. You’ll be whisked to a peaceful place where you can spend literally hours without anyone on a bike trying to kill you!

 

The main road at Lideco Bac 32
Hanoi’s notorious traffic has miraculously disappeared.

The creepiness of the place only slowly starts to set in. In fact, at first, you find yourself wondering if your day has been ruined by the urbexer’s nemesis – renovation.

A balcony door hangs off its hinges on a white painted abandoned mansion.
Wherefore art thou?

Then you realise, only around one in every 20 houses (at most) appears to be lived in. Block after block of empty white mansions stretch out before you. Plants have taken over outside and, in many cases, inside.

A window showing plants growing both inside and outside at the ghost town Lideco Bac 32 in Hanoi
Window garden.

Stray dogs patrol the street, though none of them seem unfriendly.

Near the entrance to the housing estate, there appears to be a lone coffee shop with some local youths playing pool and chain-smoking over tar-thick drip coffee. Whether they were the residents of the currently occupied mansions or visitors from nearby homes, we have no idea. We stop for an intense shot of Vietnamese coffee before heading towards the centrepiece of the forsaken housing project.

The Makings of a Ghost Town

We approach the lake in the middle of the estate. The brick skeletons I’d already seen online now visible in many directions.

A view of some partially built houses across a lake.
Lakeside living.

And it gets better and better!

Skeletons of partially built buildings with a piece of concrete pipe in the foreground
Big plans in the pipeline!

We stroll around the pleasant deserted paths, taking in the magnitude of the enormous project, now in a rapid state of decline.

An unfinished abandoned mansion.
Now, who would live in a house like this?

There are even references to my childhood to make me feel more at home!

Skeleton of a half built building with Boyz n tha Hood graffiti.
Not what the urban planners had in mind, I suspect.
A view of an abandoned street from the first floor of one of the buildings.
The light was getting better for urbex photography towards the end of our day.

Inside the buildings

Of course, it’s all well and good having a wander around outside, but it’s about time we checked out the interior of some of these decaying mansions.

Nikki walks down a corridor of an abandoned building
My girlfriend, Nikki, tentatively explores the shell of an abandoned mansion.

On the whole, there isn’t much to see inside the buildings. The bare brick walls are reminiscent of the industrial look that was so embraced by bars in regentrified areas of my home country (UK) in the early noughties.

The stairs are slightly nerve-wracking to climb.

A staircase in an abandoned half-built building at Lideco Bac 32, Hanoi
No rails.

But the views are worth it.

One finished building and several unfinished ones seen through a window of an unfinished one.
A room with a view.

The attics are quite spooky.

Light shines through a window in an abandoned building.
A ray of sunshine.

From the fourth floor…

A view through a window in an abandoned building, Hanoi.
Looking through the windows.

In some of the buildings, it appears there have been some rather strange goings on!

Several bras on the floor of an abandoned building.
Feeling romantic.
A shelf
Setting the mood.

The painted buildings tend to have locked doors. There is one, however, that doesn’t…

An open door to a partially built house.
Inviting.

Inside though? Same same but window panes.

What was the plan for Lideco Bắc 32?

Near the entranceway, there’s a building that had presumably been a show-home, with a sign outside highlighting the aspirational lifestyle that Lideco Bắc 32 was planning to offer its inhabitants. There would have been tennis courts, a gymnasium, and a jogging track, clearly designed to attract a rich, health-conscious clientele. (Notice how not one of the people pictured is Vietnamese!)

A plan for the future at Lideco Bắc 32
All planned out.

Despite the scale of the obvious and massive failure of the project, there’s a feeling that the dream was still somehow alive. There are people working on some of the buildings in an attempt to make this ghost town a liveable and attractive place to live. The topiary next to the cafe is very well maintained.

Topiary at Lideco
Fancy

I discovered the ghost town thanks to Wander-Lush’s blog. She was the one who did the research I can now get my hands on, so hats off to her! I learned from her writing that the project ran from 2007 to 2012.

According to her sources (which she doesn’t claim to necessarily be 100% accurate), somewhere around two-thirds of the mansions had been bought back in 2014. However, the owners only ever paid partial payments. Work in the area appeared to stop and the values of the buildings plummeted.

Rather than continuing to spend on the project, most of the owners are simply sitting on their ass(ets). presumably waiting for some sort of shift in the housing market.

Some people are moving in. A few of the mansions have gates, which appears to be the sign of habitation. Some owners are really going to town on their property!

One of the more flamboyant houses at Lideco Bac 32.
All in the best possible taste.

An oasis for all

Meanwhile, local from nearby houses appear to love the space provided for them by this failed project. It seems I’m not the only one who celebrates an escape from the city’s hectic roads and increasingly unbearable pollution.

Many people jog or cycle around the bizarrely pleasant, yet mostly deserted streets. Several men chat together, smoke and fish in the lake, despite the many signs that we translated as saying ‘No Fishing’. They tried to chat with us, and we would have loved to find out more about their lives and this strange area that we find ourselves in. However, sadly, my Vietnamese goes no further than ‘Cam-on’ at the moment and I don’t even pronounce that right.

A Vietnamese man rides a bike down a road of partially built buildings.
Even the locals seemed to love the freedom of an open road.

As well as the local health enthusiasts, we have some pretty good amateur gardeners in the area… All over the place, people have set up allotments, not wanting the space to go to waste.

An allotment set up in a ghost town.
Plotting something…

It’s hard to imagine what will happen to Lideco Bắc 32.

An empty noticeboard.
We all just want to be noticed.

A part of me, of course, wants it to remain pretty much as it is. It currently stands as my favourite attraction in Hanoi, for many many reasons.

However, I doubt very much that can happen. I guess it really shouldn’t happen. As wonderful as abandoned buildings are, I have to admit that they are a waste of useful space, especially an abandoned place of this scale.

A brick in the foreground, a view over a lake, abandoned buildings in the background.
Bricking it.

No doubt, sooner or later, these buildings will either be knocked down or done up. Bad for the urbexers like me, better for the people of Hanoi.

If I were to get political about things, I might even make the suggestion that the buildings should be given over to some of Hanoi’s poorer residents. It seems very unfair that the only peaceful area of the city I found during my stay should be designed for the richest in society.

A boarded up window in a skeleton of a building.
Quite what those boards are supposed to achieve is anyone’s guess!

I would strongly suggest anyone with the opportunity to visit while it remains in this state, should take it. ENJOY!

A green lampost and several skeletons of buildings
Where the streets have no names.

If you love abandoned buildings, be sure to check out my growing collection of Urbex sites across Asia here.

Urbex Appeal (Dave) on Instagram…

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Ghost Town, Hanoi - Lideco Bac 32

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