Hanoi Nightlife and What to Do at Night in Vietnam
Nightlife in Hanoi Capital, Vietnam
Hanoi is not world famous for its nightlife and some visitors find it outright staid but there are some places worth checking out and - as everywhere - it's all out there if you look for it.
Perhaps the most prolific side to Hanoi's after-work activities is its many beer bars selling 'bia hoi (fresh beer) where a glass costs a fraction of what it would in the west. One famous travel guide claims that US$10 will buy you (and hopefully your friends) 100 beers!
Once again, the Old Quarter of the city is the place to be for night moves.
MOST POPULAR NIGHTLIFE VENUES IN HANOI
Minh's Jazz Club
Minh's Jazz Club in Hanoi, Vietnam
Quyen Van Minh is known as the Godfather of Jazz in Vietnam. Minh has performed in jazz festivals throughout Asia and Europe. Visiting jazz musicians in Vietnam also frequently play with Minh’s Song Hong (Red River) Jazz Bands and at the jazz club.
Quyen Van Minh has the only big band in Vietnam and frequently holds concerts at the Hanoi Opera house and other event venues. He performs nearly every night at his jazz club with his students who are to become the next generation of jazz musicians in Vietnam.
Minh's Jazz Club by International Media
"In the heart of the Old Quarter, Mr. Quyen Van Minh has been churning out jazz just about as long as he's been allowed. There is no cover charge and Minh showcases some of the best local talent" Hanoi Nightlife Travel Guide by The New York Times.
"The place in Hanoi to catch hot, live jazz. Bar owner, Minh teaches saxophone at the Hanoi Conservatory and moonlights here. Jamming with a variety of musicians ranging from his talented son to top-notch international jazz players." Vietnam Guide by Nick Ray, Wendy Yanagihara.
Opening Hours: Live Jazz performances every night from 21:00 til 23:30.
Address: 65 Quan Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam (3rd floor).
Tel: +844 3942 0400.
Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House, Vietnam
The beautiful Hanoi Opera House was built in 1911 by the then ruling French. It’s a phenomenal piece of neo-classical French architecture featuring Gothic themes on the doors and domes with pillars, shuttered windows, balconies and a glass room. Musicians, actors and dancers play to a 600-strong audience delivering powerful operatic and classical performances, making it a very popular theatrical attraction.
The Hanoi Opera House is the biggest theatre in Vietnam and speaks volumes as historical and cultural evidence of Vietnam under French rule. The interior is even more magnificent than the exterior with many arguing it is aesthetically even more appealing than the Paris Opera House. Visitors today will be entertained at this architectural landmark which features a range of events including local Vietnamese opera, traditional folk music, ballets and many international concerts.
Hanoi Opera House Highlights
Following the end of the August Revolution in 1945, The Hanoi Opera House reverted from entertaining the French elite to becoming the centre of major historical events including the first session of the National Assembly of the Republic. The Hanoi building went into a state of decline prior to being renovated and brought up to date in 1997 which included the installation of state-of-the-art equipment and the renewal of some of the interior decorations.
These improvements returned the opera house to its former glory which now sees international artists including violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Wolfgang Glemser take to the stage in addition to home-grown talent. Vietnamese entertainers perform songs, classical music, dance, drama and contemporary performances from superstars such as singer My Linh. The Hanoi Opera House offers a superb setting in which to see any live show. The stage is three metres high and there are three storeys in total so a wonderful experience is guaranteed regardless of your seating arrangements.
Good to Know about Hanoi Opera House
The Hanoi Opera House is located near Hoan Kiem Lake on August Revolution Square. There are superb views of the opera house at the Hilton Opera House hotel which is very close by.
You will need to purchase tickets to see the inside of the opera house although there are usually a host of concerts to choose from including drama, ballet and symphonies in addition to opera. The Hanoi Opera House is also the first choice for international meetings and conferences so check online when you are visiting to ensure a performance is scheduled.
Location: 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem.
Tel: +844 9330 113.
Water Puppet Theatre
Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi, Vietnam
The world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi has its roots in an art form that dates back to the 11th century. The tradition of water puppet theatre stems from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make entertainment by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water.
Using large rods to support the puppets it appeared as if they were moving across the water with the puppeteers hidden behind a screen.
This tradition is unique to North Vietnam but has recently found fame on stages all over the world; so it’s a rare treat to see the puppets perform in their original location at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Performances are accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. There are also authentic Vietnamese operatic songs telling the story that is being acted out by the puppets. Most of the shows recount Vietnamese folk tales and legends with topics including the celebration of the rice harvest depicted in a humorous fashion.
Water Puppet Theatre Highlights
Shows at this modern theatre are performed in a pool of water as the stage for the puppets. The puppets are controlled by no more than eight puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. The renowned Thang Long Water Puppet show is considered to be one of the cultural highlights of Northern Vietnam dating back to a tradition that first started in the Red River Delta.
Today’s performances usually include a number of short sketches rather than one long story, taking the audience on a journey of ancient village life, agricultural harvests and dances of mythical creatures. Most shows also feature the famous Legend of the Restored Sword of King Le which tells the tale of Hoan Kiem Lake and the giant tortoise. The live music plays an integral part of the show with singers often shouting words of encouragement to the puppets.
Good to Know about Water Puppet Theatre
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hanoi with tickets selling out well in advance so it’s worth booking yours as soon as you arrive in town. It is also advisable to pay more to get closer to the action as the theatre seats a few hundred people and the puppets are not that big. The theatre is modern and usually shows 17 short sketches over a one-hour performance.
Opening Hours: Shows during the day and evening at 14:00 and 20:00.
Location: North east of Hoan Kiem Lake at 57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street.
Remarks: There is an additional camera or video fee if you wish to photograph or film the show.
OTHER NIGHTLIFE VENUES IN HANOI
A staple for clubbing Hanoians and a must-try for visitors, Apocalypse Now recently moved downtown and has reputedly lost some of its edge. Smokey and atmospheric it's the sort of place to see people with attitude rather than a friendly watering hole. Perhaps Hanoi's most Gay-friendly bar.
Location: Star Bowl Centre, Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da.
Tel: +844 971 2783.
Bia Hoi 68 Hang Quat
Bia Hoi 68 Hang Quat in Hanoi, Vietnam
Bia Hoi or draught beer flows very cheaply at Bia Hoi bars across Hanoi that attract a mostly backpacker crowd. One of the more popular hangouts is 68 Hang Quat Bia Hoi where seating is provided on plastic stools perched on a floor covered in discarded peanut shells. It’s probably not the best beer in town and it’s certainly not a refined venue, but it is lots of fun at a very low price.
Opening Hours: 09:00-Late.
Location: 68 Hang Quat.
Tel: +844 3933 3533.
Dragon Fly Bar Lounge
Dragon Fly Bar Lounge in Hanoi, Vietnam
Young Vietnamese and youthful expats enjoy the hip-hop and dance music played at this laid-back venue. Shishas, foosball and inexpensive cocktails keep the party going in this friendly bar which has a weekly ladies night every Sunday. Stay downstairs to dance or play pool or head upstairs to lounge around and enjoy a game of Jenga and a smoke of apple and mint tobacco from the hookah bar.
Opening Hours: 10:00-23:00.
Location: 15 Hang Buom, Hoàn Kiem.
Tel: +844 926 2177.
Eté Resto & café
Eté Resto & café in Hanoi, Vietnam
Famous for burgers, fresh fruit cocktails and imported beer, Eté is café bar culture at its best. Three levels including al fresco seating and a karaoke room are decked in local art efforts. Expect dancing and a fun, chic ambience with a diverse crowd. Make sure to explore all levels, each of which has its own unique design.
Opening Hours: 08:00-24:00.
Location: 95 Giang Văn Minh, Ba Đình.
Tel: +849 7675 1331.
Funky Buddha Club
Funky Buddha Club in Hanoi, Vietnam
Cramming in a trendy 20-something crowd, Funky Buddha caters to lounge lizards lapping up tequila weekend specials and Sambuca nights. A live DJ plays nightly, spinning music through one of the best sound systems found in any Hanoi club. The décor is equally impressive, featuring innovative sculptures. Definitely the place to come and just enjoy music as you won’t be able to hold a conversation over the din.
Opening Hours: 17:00-23:00.
Location: 2 Ta Hien Street, Hoàn Kiem.
Tel: +84 4 32927614.
Half Man Half Noodle
Half Man Half Noodle in Hanoi, Vietnam
Another popular place with the expats and open until late, Half Man Half Noodle is run by a popular former barman and features an upstairs games room and quite a mellow atmosphere.
Address: 62 Dao Duy Tu, Hoàn Kiếm.
Tel: +844 926 1943.
Hanoi Press Club
Hanoi Press Club, Vietnam
The al fresco terrace on the roof of the Press Club is well known for its buzzing Friday night vibe. Live bands and DJs play a wide range of music to get the ultra-trendy party crowd going. This is the place of beautiful people and fabulous city views and it hosts a big monthly event on the first Friday of every month.
Opening Hours: 11:00-15:00 and 17:00-Late.
Location: 59 A Ly Thai To Street.
Tel: +844 39340888.
Ho Guom Xanh
Ho Guom Xanh in Hanoi, Vietnam
Showcasing the slick, contemporary side of Hanoi's nightlife, the cheerily uniformed bar staff tout steeply priced bottles of western spirits while the show is on the burlesque side borrowing heavily from Parisian revues. This is a good place to see the well-heeled locals as they really are when they come out to play.
Address: 32 Pho Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem Lake.
Another beer-swilling classic, Lan Chin is a pavement beer hall with plenty of tables and chairs under a corrugated iron roof. You can get good food here and the beer is markedly superior to the sometimes watered-down brew in the more average Bia Hois. Lan Chin has established itself as the place where locals head to.
Address: 2 Pho Trang Tien, French Quarter.
La Salsa tapas bar is a great place to meet friends and enjoy some pre-dinner bar snacks and a few cocktails before heading out for a big night. The drinks list also features fine wines. If you want more than tapas then head to the restaurant on the second floor which also serves classic French cuisine.
Opening Hours: 08:30-23:00.
Location: 25 Nha ThoHoan Kiem District.
Tel: +844 3828 9052.
Cuisine: Tapas Bar, French restaurant.
Situated a short stroll from Hoan Kiem Lake, Le Pub is superb place to sit and people watch from the outside terrace. There is an extensive wine list, local and imported beers and plenty of Western and Vietnamese pub food from roast dinners to spring rolls and even poutine. Drinks promotions are available according the day including tequila specials, vodka and gin nights and cocktail discounts.
Opening Hours: 07:00-Late.
Location: 25 Hang Be, Hoàn Kiem.
Tel: +844 3926 2104.
Ly Club (Club 51)
Upstairs is super chic with brightly coloured sofas and divans with the heady scent of fresh flowers and live piano and violin music. Here you can indulge in fine dining. Downstairs, order a vodka martini and check out some of the best cabaret acts in Vietnam.
Address: 51 Pho Ly Thai To, French Quarter.
Tel: +844 936 3069.
A sports bar complete with foosball and pool tables. Loud and laid back with plenty of low-cost drinks to be enjoyed over a game of pool, although be warned that some of the regulars are pool champions! Happy hour drinks promotions run from 17:00-20:00 daily.
Opening Hours: 17:00- 02:00.
Location: 5 Bao Khanh Lane, Hoàn Kiem.
Tel: +844 825 0959.
R & R Tavern
R & R Tavern in Hanoi, Vietnam
An older expat crowd frequent R&R (Rock & Roll) Tavern for a chance to catch up and relax to classic rock. Live music packs the tavern out every Thursday and Saturday. Drinks include cocktails, draft beer and the usual selection of spirits. There’s also a Tex-Mex bar menu and regular ‘all-you-can-eat’ specials.
Opening Hours: 08:00-23:00.
Location: 10 Tho Nhuom St, Hanoi.
Tel: +844 6295 8215.
Featuring a Filipino band churning out old favourites, Seventeen Saloon takes its Wild Western style very seriously. There are cowboys and Red Indians galore entertaining a mostly tourist clientele. Drinks can be pricey but the ambience is certainly different and is always buzzing.
Opening Hours: 17:00-Late.
Location: 98b Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoàn Kiem.
Tel: +844 39426822.
Heavy house and techno music entertain weekend revelers whilst wannabe DJs have a go on the turntables through the week. Solace is a converted boat and good place to dance the night away as it quickly fills up with a young vibrant crowd. This is the place to come post-bar and pre-bed and is considered one of Hanoi’s best dance clubs. Opening Hours: 08:00-06:00.
Location: End of Chuong Duong Do, Hoan Kiem Lake.
Tel: +844 174 730.
Studio Lounge & Restaurant
Quirky and eccentric, Studio is a sublime spot set in the midst of Hanoi’s downtown area. Black and white minimalist décor complements the laid-back lounge music and set the pace for a chilled out evening. Mixologists are on hand to deliver a superb cocktail as you sit back, relax and enjoy. Opening Hours: 10:00-24:00. Location: 32 Ma May. Tel: +844 3926 3882.
The Spotted Cow
Sporting events rule at The Spotted Cow with drinking, darts, football and rugby the order of the day. TV screens blast out English Premier League and Rugby games to a mostly male crowd. A friendly, casual watering hole, it’s also a top spot to make new friends.
Opening Hours: 11:30-Late.
Location: 23C Hai Ba Trung.
Tel: +844 824 1028.
Sunset Bar in Hanoi, Vietnam
Punters recline on the plush daybeds and woven couches on Sunset Bar’s chilled-out wooden deck complete with serene views overlooking West Lake. Nestled inside the InterContinental Hotel, this is a superb designer spot to enjoy a cool afternoon Martini far away from Hanoi’s crowds.
Opening Hours: 16:30-24:00.
Location: 1A Nghi Tam St, InterContinental Hotel, West Lake.
Tel: +844 6270-8888.