Hanoi: Nightlife in Vietnam’s capital

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Welcome to Hanoi at night

Hanoi, Vietnam’s bustling capital city, isn’t known for it’s Nightlife. The north’s traditional roots and a 12am curfew on the city don’t exactly scream ‘Big Night Out’. However, if you know the right spots and take the view that curfew was made to be broken (as many of the bars and clubs of Hanoi do) then you are in for a thrilling and cheap nightlife scene that only Hanoi can provide. Just don’t be surprised when, after midnight, the music and lights go off for 2 minutes while the police car drives past the outside of the bar!

Red bridge on hoan kiem lake

The Old Quarter

Downtown Hostel, Tom’s Bar, Hair of the Dog, 1900, The Doors Cafe

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is the first destination for most tourists visiting the city, and it definitely has its fair share of bars and clubs. There is quite a large backpacker scene in this area, meaning cheap drinks and loud music in many of the party hostels. A favourite amongst backpackers is Downtown Hostel, situated right in the centre of the Old Quarter, which offers free beer and fun evening events.

For a great value drinks and a real Vietnamese experience, make sure to check out one of the beer corners. You can find these areas at the end of Ta Hien street and on Ma May street. Look for the tiny plastic stools and tables set up on the pavement/road and order a round of ‘Bia Hoi‘, the cheapest beer in the world! A glass will set you back around £0.25/$0.31.

If you roam the Ta Hien/Ma May area you will find many a bar and club, and some that will stay open past 12am but with the door closed. A few to check out are:

  • Tom’s Bar (Ta Hien) – Not the cheapest drinks but you can put on your own tunes, and it is happy balloons galore.
  • Hair of the Dog (32 Ma May) – A great little club with a good vibe, popular with young Vietnamese and backpackers. Reasonable drink prices and stays open late.
  • 1900 (Ta Hien) – A more upmarket dance club right in the centre of the Old Quarter. Drinks are a little more expenisve. A top place for a dance among the trendy and young Vietnamese crowd of Hanoi.
  • The Doors Cafe (11 Hang Chinh) – A good live music spot in the Old Quarter, especially for Rock ‘n’ Roll and Blues. They also do DJ nights and film screenings.

 

Bars

Sidewalk, Summit Lounge, Standing Bar

There are an abundance of bars in Hanoi, so there will be something for everyone. Here is a list of a few I recommend checking out:

  • Sidewalk (199 D Nghi Tam) – This is an awesome little spot, especially on Friday and Saturday nights where they have great drink deals on (including the famous ‘free beer Friday’). It’s set outside and has a great atmosphere, making it a favourite with locals and expats. They put on a variety of events, from Trance nights to Acoustic nights. Check out their facebook page here.
  • Summit Lounge at Pan Pacific (1 Thanh Nien)- Found on the 20th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel, this is arguably Hanoi’s best roof top bar, with unrivalled views of Hanoi’s West Lake. It is a little more upmarket and therefore drinks are pricier, however if you are after a good cocktail complete with sunset views over Hanoi, this is the one.
  • Standing Bar (170 Tran Vu St.) – If you’re a beer lover, this is the place for you. Offering 16 craft ales on tap, tapas style food and an outside terrace, this is a real cozy bar with great views of Truc Bach lake. They also host live music and stand up comedy events, which you can look up here.

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Clubs

Hanoi Rock City, BirdCage, Savage

There are some good nightlife venues to be found in Tay Ho district, about 10-15 minutes in a taxi north of the Old Quarter.

  • Hanoi Rock City (To Ngoc Van) – This is the pioneering venue in Hanoi in terms of bringing art and live music to the city. A guaranteed great night, they hold all types of events, think reggae to electro swing to heavy metal to open mic. Stays open late. See their events here.
  • BirdCage (Alley 264 Au Co) – A little hard to find, but worth it when you do! Set outside in a rural area, this is Hanoi’s underground music spot where you can dance until sunrise. Everything from 80’s night to Psy trance. See events here.
  • Savage (112 Xuan Dieu) – A western style nightclub, which books up and coming local DJ’s alongside international artists. Good cocktails, a large lounge area and an impressive dancefloor surrounding the DJ booth. A must-do in Hanoi. Find out more here.

quest festival partygoers

Festivals

Quest Festival, Equation Festival

If you happen to find yourself in Hanoi in the months of November or April, make sure you check out the music festivals that are held just 1 hour outside the city. Quest festival in November and Equation festival in April are relatively new, and each year are becoming bigger and better. The festival scene isn’t big in South-East Asia, so these festivals are leading the way for this sort of event in the region. Both festivals host international artists as well as show-casing emerging talents from Vietnam and the rest of Asia. There are also yoga classes, an outside cinema, drama performances and art stalls to get involved with.

To find out more about Quest Festival, click here.

To find out more about Equation festival, click here.

Late night eats…

At the end of your epic night out in the chaotic but wonderful Hanoi, make sure you sample some of the late night treats on offer. Again, due to the curfew, places will be open after 12am but will have to pretend they aren’t briefly if a police van decides to drive that way. A real winner is the famed Vietnamese kebab, stuffed with meat, salad and at least 3 different sauces. You will also find ‘Banh My’ stalls all over the place, selling crusty baguettes stuffed with your choice of egg, meat, cheese and pickled salads. Scoff down one of these for the unbelievable price of around £0.70/$0.90.

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