There is never a dull moment in Hanoi, especially at night. This vibrant city is teeming with fun activities once the sun has set. Here are some of the best, with something new to try each night in the Vietnamese capital.
One of the best activities to do in Hanoi at night is to stroll around the beautiful Old Quarter. Half of the city seems to hang out here at night, making it a little hectic with so many motorbikes congesting the streets. Walk around the 16 streets, do some souvenir shopping, hop in and out of stores, snap some pictures and join a group of Hanoi residents for a street-side meal. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and to really get to know the city.
Located by the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake is a fun place to walk around and snap some pictures at night. After sunset, the buildings and houses sparkle with lights, which reflect on the water surface, creating a colourful sight. In the centre of the lake is an island – which is accessible via a red bridge – on which Ngoc Son Temple was built. Around the lake is a pedestrian path that becomes popular for health enthusiasts come sundown; you will find joggers, cyclists and even some older people using outdoor fitness equipment.
Want something a little more relaxed? Head over to Binh Minh Jazz Club where you can watch the finest musicians in the city play their instruments with love. The interior is dark, creating a mellow ambience that couples well with the style of entertainment. Quyen Van Minh is regarded as the best Vietnamese jazz performer in history, and you may even be able to shake his hand as he still enjoys jamming with his band on some nights. Drinks may not be cheap, but if you factor in the quality of the venue and entertainment, it’s more than worth it.
Water puppet shows are a favourite among tourists in Vietnam. This ancient art form features puppets being controlled by adept puppet masters, enacting sketches of the local lifestyle and stories of ancient myths and folklore. Located by Hoan Kiem Lake, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre has garnered a reputation for putting on some of the finest shows. Get your tickets early as they sell out fast!
The Bia Hoi Junction is in the centre of the Old Quarter and is the absolute classic night-time activity in Hanoi. Here, you’ll find several shophouses that have turned their entrances into street-side bars, complete with plastic tables and stools spilling out onto the sidewalk. They serve beer for as little as 10,000 Vietnamese dongs (£0.35). Street vendors walk around selling steamed peanuts, beef jerky and other exotic snacks. If you’re travelling solo, this is where you will make friends, as it’s almost always crowded – by tourists and regulars alike.
West Lake, called Hồ Tây in Vietnamese, is a popular residential area for foreigners, along with embassy residences. Around the lake, you’ll find many high-end restaurants and bars catering to crowds looking for a lovely night out. Depending on your location, you will get to see the stupa of Trấn Quốc Pagoda standing tall at 15 metres (49 feet). It is the oldest temple in Hanoi, built in AD 544 by Emperor Lý Nam Đế.
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Dance the night away at HERO Club
Nightclub, Vietnamese, $$$
HERO Club is an industrial-style nightlife venue with a reputation as one of the best nightclubs in the city, throwing some awesome parties and themed nights. The DJ booth is set within an old Soviet truck, and the walls are adorned with colourful murals of superheroes and propaganda posters. The dance floor gets wild, with dancers in birdcage-like structures hanging above, and the music ranges from hip-hop to deep house and lounge. The cocktails aren’t expensive – they start from as low as 75,000 dongs (£2.60). Despite the low prices, this club attracts an affluent crowd, so dress to impress.
Visit the Hanoi Night Market even if you don’t want to shop. It’s an excellent place to immerse yourself in the lively night-time atmosphere of Hanoi, meet people, snap some pictures and enjoy some delicious street-side snacks. Of course, you might be tempted to buy other things, too.
While visiting a flower market at night might seem a little weird, it’s not. Just like the produce markets that supply restaurants, the Quảng Bá Flower Market reaches its peak right after midnight, around 2am. This commercial market supplies all the floral shops and vendors in Hanoi, so to get the freshest flowers, business owners enjoy browsing this market in the wee hours of the morning. There are so many colours and fragrances – it’s a little bit like walking into a giant outdoor garden, but at night.
Rooftop bars are aplenty in Hanoi, but the Summit Lounge at the Sofitel Hanoi sets the gold standard for the others to reach. Enjoy a cool evening cocktail while looking over not one but two lakes, Hồ Tây and Truc Bach, with one of the most picturesque streets in Hanoi, Thanh Niên, separating them. Opening at 4pm, this is a great place to enjoy some drinks while watching the sunset; afterwards, head over to the Old Quarter where the party continues after midnight.