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.
Bia Hoi 68 Hang Quat
This is the genuine article – a ‘Bia Hoi’ (draught beer) bar with good and incredibly cheap beer. A bit rough around the edges and if you’re into aesthetically perfect places you’d be better off heading to the Sofitel cocktail lounge. The beer may be better than at most other Bia Hoi but the food certainly isn’t.
Address: 68 Hang Quat
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 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.
Address: Star Bowl Centre, Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da
Tel: +844 971 2783
Jazz Club Minh
If the sometimes frenetic pace and crowds of Vietnam starts to get to you this is the perfect antidote. Real live jazz played by Quyen Van Minh, a locally celebrated saxophonist who also happens to own the club and is somewhat of a jazz catalyst. Coltrane and Charlie Parker downtown Hanoi? You bet.
Address: 31 Pho Luong Van Can, Old Quarter
Tel: +844 828 7890
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
Ho Guom Xanh
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
The Spotted Cow
A popular, Australian-run bar/pub with a fun crow of regulars. The gathering place of the local Hash House Harriers, The Spotted Cow reaches its fun quotient effortlessly.
Address: 23c Pho Hai Ba Trung
Tel: +844 824 1028
Half Man Half Noodle
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