Here we are in Hanoi, But what do we do at night? what is truly Hanoi nightlife experience that you don’t want to miss? Some of us post a question on Tripadvisor, hoping the experienced reply. Most of us quickly google the answers, soon find ourselves buried in tons of repeated information and when the night approaches, we compromise with whatever sticks in our mind, going out and begin our night adventures in Hanoi (A typical case may be found on this link)
And I think we are wrong, right from the start. Reading the question and all the responses on this link makes me feel like they did not explore Hanoi nightlife, they just relived their nightlife back in their towns but in Hanoi. Hanoi would be so sad. She is. How do you feel if sitting next to the love of your life and he or she cannot stop talking about his or her ex?
I will make Hanoi smile again. By showing you her beauty you might miss
Daylife – a teaser of Hanoi nightlife
Just like a preparation for a blockbuster, you should go watch its teaser. Luckily, Hanoi nightlife’s teaser is available along the day. God created days and nights, so in order to enjoy Hanoi nightlife, we should first pay tribute to Hanoi daylife. A polluted chaos – some may say. Young and dynamic country – others may oppose. But whatever it is, daylife and nightlife are two sides of a coin.
So go outside, watch Hanoi in its busiest time, stun your eyes with numerous motorbikes, endanger yourselves while walking across the roads and let Hanoi drive you crazy first so she can redeem you later.
Hiring a bike or a motorbike to explore Hanoi sounds like a good choice. Price starts from 4USD. Or less freely but more relaxing, a cyclo tours make you an offer you cannot refuse. No one knows how cyclo emerged but everyone knows how important it is in Vietnamese history, how closely it is associated with the old Hanoi, the best Hanoi that many claim they have lost. And please keep in mind everything you should see in Hanoi at night, you must see it in broad daylight.
Sunset – the nightlife wait to come
Do not miss the sunset as it is one of the most magical moments you could ever experience. Apart from all the noise, the rush as Hanoi people come home from works, you can always find a place like the West lake, Long Bien bridge, Red river or a small corner where everything stands still.
They are hidden in the bustle of Hanoi, you should first look nowhere else but your inner to find it. And once you do, sit back, enjoy the silence, enjoy the sunset, immerse yourselves in the last light of the day, behold the Hinge moment: Hanoi is turning from daylife to nightlife.
Hanoi nightlife: plcae to visit
Hoan Kiem Lake
The first must-go site at night in Hanoi would be Hoan Kiem Lake – a secret lake associated with many Vietnamese legends, home to a giant turtle who is believed to live hundreds of years and witness important historical events. It is difficult to see him at night but hold yourselves still, Hoan Kiem Lake has so much to offer: its beauty under colorful and sparkling lights.
Sit back, enjoy the magnificent view then close your eyes, feel the breath of the lake that the wind delivers to your lips. This is the first pedestrian zone in Hanoi where your mind would be free from traffic dangers – such a good news for anyone terrified by Vietnamese chaotic traffic. Another interesting thing is Vietnamese street cuisine. Food booth scattered around the lake offer you a variety of delicious dishes. Do not miss Trang Tien ice cream – the best, the oldest, the mother of all ice cream in Vietnam. Some says you can actually feel the lost Hanoi not only in the name Trang Tien, but also in every bite you take.
Water puppet theater
For those interested in traditional arts, water puppet theater in Hanoi cannot be missed because of its unique out of the ancient Asian puppet tradition. 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. Please keep in mind, tickets usually sell out in advance, so early booking should be up on your to-do list as soon as you arrive in town.
Dong Xuan market
Not far from Hoan Kiem Lake is Dong Xuan Market – a long standing symbol of Hanoi. Originally built by the French administration in 1889, Dong Xuan Market has been renovated several times with the latest in 1994 after a fire which almost destroyed the market. Nowadays, Dong Xuan Market is the largest covered market of Hanoi where the wholesale traders sell everything from clothes, household goods to foodstuffs and where thousands of small items can be found at a nice price. This night market is organized as a tourist attraction rather than a business place where one can buy souvenirs, handicrafts and also taste traditional foods or enjoy cultural activities such as ca tru and cheo performed talented artists.
Hanoi Old quarter at night
Talking about walk, a walk you should take when you are in Hanoi at night is a walk around the Old Square 36 streets – the 2000 year old heart of Hanoi. Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter started as a swamp and gradually began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area as skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter. Nowadays, not everyone provide the services that once named their street but it is said that at night, when every door is closed and everything is drown in silence, you walk a path that the old Hanoi people walked, you can still feel the same Hanoi hundreds of years ago.
Walking street the spotlight of Hanoi nightlife
Still searching for something more energetic as the word “nightlife” is strongly associated with bars and pubs back in your towns? Hanoi has just the right things you are looking for.
Bia Hoi Junction is number one on your must-visit list. Widely-regarded as the quintessential nightlife spot in Hanoi, the ever-bustling beer haven is located at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter, where you can see hundreds of people sitting on plastic stools with a pint of bia hoi in hand.
Bia hoi is a typical type of Vietnamese draft beer with low alcohol, so Westerners may find it quite weak but they should be amazed to realize how cheap it is. Of course, to your satisfaction, established brands can be found. Same as every corner in Hanoi, snacks such as steamed peanuts, fried tofu, skewered meats, and delicious beef jerky are always available at affordable price. Trying to find yourselves a little room in the crowd, sitting on a plastic stool, drinking beer, having some snacks while chit chat with your friends are the right way to feel the chaotically modern Hanoi. The beauty of the unorganized. And do not sit there for too long, because the amazing Hanoi street arts may easily be faded into the noise of the crowd. Stand up. Go explore. You may find yourselves moved by a song performed right in the middle of the roads, by music played by street artists, excited as you join a street dance with complete strangers who share the your joyful explore for Hanoi quintessence. Moreover, bars, pubs are scattered all over the Old Square.
West Lake is the biggest freshwater lake in Hanoi. With the area of 500 ha, it takes quite amount of time to circle 17 km around the lake. Similar to Hoan Kiem lake, West Lake has a firm stand in the hearts of Hanoi lovers. It is associated with many legends, some back to the dawn of Vietnamese history. West Lake is bordered by many significant places in the history of Hanoi and Vietnam: Tran Quoc pagoda the oldest pagoda in Vietnam, located on a small island in the middle of the lake; Quan Thanh temple one of the Four Sacred Temples of ancient Hanoi, Chu Van An High School, one of the oldest high schools in Vietnam. Because of its lager area than Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake is more suitable for anyone not very fond of bustle, seeking a little bit silence and privacy to enjoy themselves. But that does not mean, it does not come with variety of foodstuffs that you may find at Hoan Kiem Lake. Sit back in silence, enjoy the famous banh tom on Thanh Nien street.
Long Bien bridge and Nhat Tan Bridge
Next stop would be the legendary Long Bien bridge – a witness to history. Beautifully built by the French, heavily bombarded by the American, now the old Long Bien bridge is covered in rust and mainly supports bike traffic. At night, Long Bien bridge is a perfect place for Hanoi people to gather with their families or friends. Some sit on a mat they have brought, have some snacks drinks and most importantly, relaxing chit chat. Some simply sit on their bikes, staring into the river, thinking nothing. And do not worry about the mats, you do not have to bring your own. Services are always available on the bridge. It comes with a variety of foodstuffs which are very Vietnamese, very Hanoi. A cup of tea and some sunflower seeds would fully provide you the comfort while not cost so much.
Another bridge worth being mentioned here is Nhat Tan Bridge which went fully operational in 2015 to connect Hanoi and Noi Bai airport. Similar to Long Bien bridge. Nhat Tan is perfect place where you can gather with your beloved ones, relax and refresh yourselves after a long day buried in works. If Long Bien reminds you of the glorious past, Nhat Tan brings you a sense of the future. While Long Bien is covered in rust, Nhat Tan is covered in colorful lights, suitable place for photographers seeking sparkling shoots. Unlike Long Bien bridge, parking is forbidden on Nhat Tan, so no more sitting on your bikes and staring into the river. Parking lots nearby would secure you vehicles while you enjoy your walk of fun.
Quang Ba flower market
If you think silence is more than enough and prefer something more lively, Hanoi has a wide range of places to offer. Let’s start with Quang Ba night flower market. Located on Nghi Tam street, Tay Ho district, Quang Ba night flower market operates from midnight until dawn.
Flower traders find Quang Ba a perfect place to do business, local people and tourists find a perfect place to take a tour. Unlike the silence covering almost Hanoi, Quang Ba creates a sense of joy, dynamic life and beautiful nature. At Quang Ba, you can touch various flowers gathered from Hanoi’s outer districts and from as far away as Da Lat in Vietnam’s central highlands, find yourselves in a massive ocean of colorful flowers. Long Bien fruit market nearby might be your joyful next stop which brings you a Quang Ba market of fruit.
One last thing, there is no absolute version of Hanoi nightlife. There are many depending on your feelings. You not only explore your Hanoi but also in a way building it. What is your Hanoi nightlife?