Hanoi has a reputation. ‘Stuffy’, ‘Conservative’ and ‘Narrow-minded’ are often the words used to describe the capital city of Vietnam. This notion coupled with the fact that technically all clubs, bars and pubs are supposed to shut down at midnight gives off the impression that the Hanoi nightlife is stale. Wrong! Hanoi has one of the most glitzy and glamorous nightlife rivalled only by that of the nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City. Are you someone who likes to dance the night away? Or do you prefer relaxing at a pub with a beer in hand? Are you on a budget? Or are you an expat who has no qualms about expenses? No matter what kind of a party-er you are Hanoi’s got you covered!
For those who like to party, Hanoi has three major area – The Bia Hoi Junction located in the Old Quarter, The West Lake Area and the Historical Center. For those who wish to avoid the raucous partygoers, the Opera House, Hanoi Central Circus or Water Puppet Theatre are great alternatives.
Bia Hoi Junction
Bia Hoi Junction represents the quintessential Hanoi nightlife. Housing more than 200 small bars that serve Bia hoi, this area is mostly frequented by students, locals, backpackers and tourists. This area is open throughout the day and gets crowded after dusk. The area is widely popular due to the cheap Bia Hoi that it serves (4000 VND – 8000 VND per glass) and is mostly made up of small local shacks with plastic stools out front, with the most bizarre assortment of people sitting out enjoying the local beer. A popular item sold in this area is ‘balloons’. Filled with some kind of laughing gas, they provide a temporary sensation of euphoria. This area is a must visit for both couple and singles and people offer to consider a visit to Hanoi incomplete without a visit here. Remember to dress down – fancy clothes will just make you stand out like a sore thumb. Bia Hoi junction may majorly consist of people sitting out in the open sipping beer, but it does have its fair share of clubs and bars for those who prefer to go the conventional route.
Dragonfly is a nondescript looking club but when you step inside you realize exactly how happening it is, a perfect metaphor for the nightlife in Hanoi. This club has an indoor area with beautiful lighting and a thriving dance floor. It also has shisha, balloon and cocktail facilities in addition to a smoking area.
Craft Beer Pub
If you’re a connoisseur of beer, this is your place to be. They serve a large variety of both locally made beer and beer imported from Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany.
1900 Le Theatre
Standing on the remains of a burned down theatre, this Hanoi nightclub adds an element of oomph to the erstwhile laid-back scene. Complete with a DJ and a dance floor, this is undoubtedly the swankiest club in Bia Hoi junction. If you want to get a local experience and some mainstream music, this is the place. Usually very crowded, you might feel a little awkward if you go here alone.
Hair of the Dog
For a more laid-back ambience in Hanoi, head over to the Hair of the Dog, which facilitates travellers and other people to meet and make conversation over a few drinks. The service is said to be top notch.
West Lake Area
The West Lake Area has a number of upscale bars and clubs and is frequented by expats and Vietnamese socialites, celebrities and the lite. This area reeks of money and glamour and houses some of the most expensive clubs and bars. This area is ideal for a swanky, sophisticated date or a night out. The affluent crowd that frequents this area is always dressed to perfection and going casual with definitely make you stick out. In fact, most clubs in the area do not offer entry without appropriate clothing. At first glance, this area may seem too expensive, but it houses some of the most stylish and unique bars and clubs and is definitely worth a visit if you have the necessary time and resources.
Standing bar is an unconventional bar in Hanoi built on a unique concept – you drink standing. The bar has numerous taps which when open fill your glasses generously with beer.
88 Lounge embodies sophistication. This classy wine bar is ideal for a date. You can choose to occupy either the top garden or one of the sofa lounges on intermediate floors.
Savage has one of the best music systems in Hanoi. The great music they play is embodied by the enthusiastic crowd that frequents the area.
Hanoi Rock City
It has a gigantic dancing area which is always filled with people. The music is perfect for dancing.
Legend Beer sells more variety of beers than any other Vietnamese bar. Coupled with the enticing ambience, Legend beer is a great place to enjoy a great evening.
Historical City Centre
The City Centre is frequented by a chic crowd. The upmarket restaurants, lounges, bars, and nightclubs in this area are not as high-end as those in the West lake area but still are fancy enough for you to dress up. The crowd that frequents this area consists of a medley of the rich and elite and those who aspire to integrate themselves into Hi-Society. The area is also frequented by expats and tourists who cannot or do not want to spend a lot yet wish to experience the glitz of a fancy night out. Singles can mingle and meet people while couples will have a good time too. Dressing up is of utmost importance. However, if you forego those killer stilettos for some slightly more comfortable yet pretty flats, it won’t be noticed. If you’re on a budget but still want to partake in some fancy partying, the City centre is the place to go!
Hanoi Press Club
Hanoi Press club incontestably has the best assortment of French dishes in Vietnam. Hanoi press club also offers a special gentleman’s style bar which has exotic dancers performing. Apart from that, it also has an open terrace, ideal for enjoying a quiet evening.
The area and ambience of this Hanoi bar are beautiful but Cosa Nostra is often known for its poor service. This restaurant-cum-bar is themed to a minimalist one. The leather furniture offers a sophisticated, yet relaxing touch to your evening.
Tadioto is known for the exotic colourful cocktails it serves. The artsy and colourful ambience adds to the charm of the place which is ideal for a date or a girl’s night out.
Unconventional Things to Do at Night in Hanoi
So we’ve seen the vibrant party scene that the city has to offer, but what to do in Hanoi if alcohol, flashing lights and thumping music isn’t your thing? Worry not, because Hanoi is full of things to do for those who prefer a quieter scene, maybe soaking up some culture or strolling through the streets to get a hint of the true essence of life in Vietnam’s capital.
Hanoi Water Puppet Theatre
If you’re one for classic tastes, an evening enjoying the traditional Vietnamese art of Water Puppetry is the right choice for you! This classical art form dates back to times when paddy fields were strongly flooded and farmers and villagers made entertainment by standing in the water which is waist-deep and used the puppets to perform over the water. The performances often consist of Vietnamese folklore and legends and are often accompanied by the orchestra that plays traditional music using wooden bells, drums, horns, and bamboo flutes as well as cymbals. Hanoi’s Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is famous throughout the world. Missing a night of Partying and attending a show is definitely worth it.
Hanoi Opera House
The Hanoi Opera House located near Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the best examples of Hanoi’s colonial architecture. The Hanoi opera house hosts opera and live music performances and if you are one to spend a sophisticated evening, this is the place for you. This building is established in 1911 by the French. It features with Gothic themes, featuring through pillars, shuttered windows, glass rooms and balconies. This is the biggest theatre countrywide and speaks volumes as cultural and historical evidence of Vietnam under the French rule. The performances are various, including traditional folk music, international concerts, Vietnamese opera, and ballets.
Vietnam Central Circus
The Vietnam Central Circus is perfect for tourists looking for things to do in Hanoi with the whole family, offering some family-friendly late night entertainment. The two-hour long show consists of individual performances by acrobats, animals and clowns. The circus itself is located in a great top tent and is surrounded by fairground games and live performances. The circus shows often are repetitive but it’s definitely worth at least one watch. The shows offer a good laugh and the skilled performers are bound to leave you with wide open mouths.
Hanoi Night Market
A grand mixture of colours, sound and smell, Hanoi Night Market is a must visit for any tourist visiting the city, be it to buy souvenirs, browse through Vietnamese clothing or gorge on some delicious Vietnamese street food. One can find regular items like t-shirts, accessories, sunglasses or products reminiscent of Vietnamese culture such as conical hats and Ao Dai, all packed into this labyrinth of stalls that come up here on the weekends. Cultural and musical events are a regular spectacle, which can be enjoyed as you eat a mouth-watering plate of Pho or Banh Mi.
In addition to being an excellent place for sightseeing displaying the rich culture and history of Vietnam, you will find that Hanoi has an exotic and enjoyable nightlife where you can unwind after a long day of sightseeing. The Hanoi nightlife scene is ever expanding. The city is yours to explore, Party the night away!