When the very last rays of sunshine race to their own cocoon and cover the sky with a black cloak, it’s time for Hanoi’s streets to turn on the lights and bring out its dynamic and vibrant nightlife.
It’s also the perfect time for you to explore the culture and lifestyle of local people, so make sure to make room for one or two free evenings in your travel schedule.
But what should you do and where should you go in such free time? Hanoi Imperial Hotel will help you answer those questions and reveal Hanoi’s hottest entertainment options.
1. Go eating: Street food
The Vietnamese cuisine is undoubtedly popular among both travellers and local people. If you were to try out authentic Vietnamese cuisine, you wouldn’t want to miss Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the paradise of street food. It is indeed those street vendors and plastic tables and chairs on the pavements, not any fancy restaurants that can give you the best representation of the local flavor.
Pho (yes, you can have Pho for dinner, not just breakfast) – 49 Bat Dan str
Bun Ngan (vermicelli in muscovy duck soup) – 31 Ly Quoc Su str
Seafood (such as snails, clams, shrimps etc…) – Oc Vi at 19 Gia Ngu str
Xoi (sticky rice) – Xoi Yen at 35 Nguyen Huu Huan str
Banh cuon (rice noodle rolled cake) – 14 Hang Ga str
As for snacks or desserts, you can try out:
Nem Chua Ran (sour fried rolls) – Tam Thuong Alley, Ta Hien str
2. Go drinking: the “pavement culture”
Drink lemon iced tea and eat sunflower seeds on the pavements near the church area. Drinking lemon iced tea near St. Joseph’s Cathedral has been a popular trend for the younger generations in the past few years – “Tra Chanh Nha Tho” is what you’ll always find on teenagers’ Facebook ‘check-ins’.
The street pavements surrounding the cathedral square is flooded with plastic chairs that carry both people and tall glasses of lemon tea filled with ice, as well as an occasional plastic plate of sunflower seeds. It is a perfect setting for friends to just spend a lot of time chit chatting with a minimal budget.
Coffee in street vendors or coffee shops (Read our blog about Coffee)
Bia Hoi – fresh beer in Ta Hien/Luong Ngoc Quyen intersection (Read our blog about Bia Hoi)
3. Go walking: around Old Quarter & Dong Xuan night market
After filling up your stomach with street food and couples of Vietnamese fresh beer, you can wander around the Old Quarter to explore the ancient beauty at night. Should you want to get away from the Old Quarter heat, why not free your mind with some evening breeze from Hoan Kiem lake?
Just relax on a stone bench and enjoy a traditional ice cream with special flavours such as green bean, green rice, coconut milk. Alternatively, you can go shopping for some cheap souvenirs at Dong Xuan night market.
All the streets from Hang Giay to Hang Dao are closed from traffic and only open for pedestrians. However, beware of pickpockets; it’s best to keep your phone, money and passport in a belly bag.
4. Go singing: Karaoke Vietnamese style
Karaoke culture originated from Japan in the 1980s and became popular in other Asian countries in the 1990s until now, with no exception to Vietnam.
Karaoke is a great way to spend your time with friends with various purposes: to celebrate a birthday, to make new friends, to celebrate an event or congratulate someone, or just to show off your voice to your closest friends!
A karaoke in Vietnam often includes 10 people or more and takes place in a private room, where you can just relax, have a few beers, scream your lungs out and make a fool of yourself in front of your friends.
Alternatively, you can dance on the dance floor to contribute to your friends’ performances.
Karaoke bars are available in many places throughout Hanoi but unfortunately, most of the songs are in Vietnamese. Here are a few locations that feature a good list of English songs:
X-Men Club : 408 De La Thanh str
Jaguarudi Karaoke : 9 Hang Chuoi or 40 Cua Dong str
5. Go clubbing: Hanoian style
Hanoi clubbing scene is relatively young and have expanded in recent years with fresh new clubs and lounges & emerging local DJs. Clubs are open from 9 pm to midnight, and they get packed with locals and foreigners from around 10.30 pm on-wards especially in the weekends.
Hanoians tend to go clubbing with groups of close friends have fun around their pre-booked tables. Here is a list of recommended pubs and clubs where you can swing by if you wanna have a late evening out:
Hair of the dog: 32 Ma May street, in the heart of Old Quarter.It gets very crowded in the 1st floor, but if you just want to have a few drinks and chitchat with friends, try upstairs.
The Rooftop Bar: 83 Ly Thuong Kiet street – 19th floor. A fancy rooftop bar that turns into a club on Fridays and Saturdays. Great cocktails, awesome view over Hanoi in the night.
Lift Bar & Lounge: 18 Ly Thuong Kiet street – 11th floor. Newly renovated from the former famous Fuse Club, Lift is the upcoming destination for young Hanoians.
The Bank: 41 Hai Ba Trung street – 6th floor. It is the largest club in Hanoi center, which is composed of two rooms (T Bank playing hiphop & top hits, F Bank playing funky house) and an outdoor bar.