The nightlife in Hanoi can be off the hook. Seriously, from jazz clubs to secret speakeasies, the Vietnamese capital is full of surprises when the sun dips low on mystical Hoan Kiem Lake. You should soon see that it’s not all about the cultural draws of the Co Loa citadel, the Ho Chi Minh Museum, and the Temple of Literature…
We’ve enjoyed all sorts of nights in this buzzing metropolis. There are backpacker crawls that start in local hostels. You’ve got frenetic walking streets where the scents of ginger and five spice set the backdrop to some hardcore beer drinking. And there are refined and curious spots where alto sax and piano are the music of choice.
This guide will outline all of those and more. It will take a look at the areas of the city that rumble into action when the day draws to an end, offer hints on the top bars and clubs, and give a few suggestions about what you should have in the game plan if you’re coming to Hanoi for the happening nightlife scene. Let’s go…
5 nightlife areas in Hanoi you HAVE to know about
A good way to start planning your nightlife adventures in Hanoi is to get a feel for the top areas. That’s where this part of the guide can help…
The Old Quarter
No list of the top areas for nightlife in Hanoi could possibly be complete without a mention of the Old Quarter. This maze-like mass of alleys and narrow lanes is the beating heart of the city, and where most travelers will aim for. We love exploring the place, and things arguably get even better after dark. It’s brimming with venues. There are stylo cocktail lounges and more ramshackle backpacker bars than you can shake a banh mi sub at, not to mention hotel bars and restaurants to suit all tastes. It’s basically a MUST on any party person’s itinerary in the Vietnamese capital.
Bia Hoi Junction
If in doubt, go to Bia Hoi Junction. Yep, this is probably the most famous spot for nightlife in Hanoi. It’s sat on the north-east corner of the Old Quarter and unfolds in a heady mix of ramshackle beer bars. They spill onto the sidewalks with those trademark Vietnamese plastic stools and small tables. The drink of choice is the bia hoi beer. It’s a local brew that’s made daily. That means it’s cheap – around just 5,000 VND a glass. There should be a waiter or waitress walking around ready to fill up your cup whenever you’re done. That’s how the locals do it!
We think Train Street is a good place to begin your drinking sessions in Hanoi. Located to the west of the Old Quarter – around seven minutes’ walk from the night bazaars – it’s a strange spot that sees the railway lines rolling right through the town. Bars and cafes line the actual tracks. Some sit within an arm’s breadth, and many fill to bursting with travelers whenever there’s a locomotive due. We had a cracking time sipping a cold beer and waiting for the carriages to pass. Just be sure to breathe in and hop off the tracks when they do finally come!
Quoc Oai District
Unlike in the Netherlands, prostitution is illegal in Vietnam. However, there are some well-known red light dtricts in the capital. Quoc Oai District is one of these and it features a number of so-called “red light cafes”. However, we repeat: Prostitution is illegal in Vietnam. Be careful if you’re considering partaking in this aspect of the local culture! One thing that we do love about Quoc Oai District is the people watching. You can sit outside a cafe and watch as the evening takes hold in this more riskay, edgy part of the town. It’s certainly an experience you won’t forget in a hurry!
Long Bien Bridge
This is the oldest bridge in Hanoi and is a great place for sightseeing in both the daytime and the nighttime. However, the evenings are the best time to go. That’s when you’ll catch it with way fewer tourists. The upshot? A better view of the glowing city and the rippling Red River below! The bridge was designed by Gustav Eiffel but sustained a large amount of damage during the American War. The bridge is used by trains, mopeds, and pedestrians. It’s pretty peaceful, though. We’d say it’s perfect for your last night in Hanoi if you’re after something a tad romantic.
The 5 best clubs in Hanoi
From smoky jazz joints to buccaneer pirate bars, Hanoi is riddled with all sorts of strange and stylish nightlife places. We’ve gone for an eclectic mix in our pick of the best clubs in Hanoi below…
Binh Minh Jazz Club
Binh Minh Jazz Club is a small jazz club situated on Trang Tien Street behind the Hanoi Opera House. With its noir vibes and neon lights, it’s just about perfect for sipping cocktails and enjoying good music with your friends. Quyen Van Mink and his students are normally the main act. They play a mixture of standard and traditional jazz. The bar itself is small but this makes for a cozy, moody atmosphere, far away from the hubbub of the metropolis outside.
King Pirates Pub
King Pirates Pub is located on Hang Giay Street, a 15-minute walk from the Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city. As the name suggests, it’s a pirate-themed nightlife spot which offers rum-based drinks to match. If you’re keen to get into the swashbuckler spirit, the establishment is perfect for a themed booze session with other travelers and locals. King Pirates Club also has great nightly games, such as their Walk the Plank Challenge. We’ll let you figure out what that is!
HERO Bar opens at 9pm and is located in the West Lake area. It is the best place to go if you are looking for a high-energy, late-night party destination. This is one of the best clubs in Hanoi with DJ’s, dancers and flashing lights. It is a large space, with high ceilings and a mezzanine which makes it a doozy for dancing the night away to EDM and R&B. The booth is elevated with a large LED screen behind it, cages are dotted around the venue with dancers inside them – it’s all very Vegas.
Looking for something laid-back and classy? Q Bar offers just that. Situated 300 meters up in the new West Hanoi business district, it boasts some of the best views across the busy city of Hanoi. Not only is it stylish and modern, but the service is top notch, with sleekly dressed waiters and bar staff. You can choose from a wide range of cocktails and gourmet bites whilst you watch the in-house mixologists do thier thing. Prices are higher than in the Old Quarter, but you’re paying for style.
Bee’Znees is a 1920s-inspired cocktail bar that really looks the part. From the front, it resembles a book shop, but don’t be fooled. Look for the correct book to pull to open the secret door and reveal a winding metal staircase that leads to a dark, sultry watering hole hidden away from the city. But it’s more than just a novelty recreation of a noir speakeasy. The bar staff really know their stuff and can describe each cocktail without the need for a menu! The Bee’Znees also hosts live music several nights of the week.
Where to say if you’re looking to party in Hanoi
- 7Fridays West Lake Hostel – A bar, a pool, good vibes, and a cracking location near the stylo venues of West Lake all add up to make this backpacker option a crackin choice for hittin the nightlife in Hanoi.
- Happy Feet Hostel – Not only does the Happy Feet Hostel have its own bar and lounge for cracking open those pre-drinks in, it’s also just a short walk from the Night Market and Bia Hoi Junction (AKA, the perfect place to be for parties in the Old Quarter!)
- Vietnam Cheers Hostel – Vietnam Cheers Hostel is a bit of a posh-tel hostel mashup that offers pod-style bunks and swish dorms in the vicinity of Bia Hoi Junction. Rooms also have balconies with views of the bustling streets below.
Other things to do in Hanoi at night
You don’t have to go wild with endless beers and heavy hangovers in Hanoi. There’s also some scope to get your fix of culture, shopping and nightlife in this city…
Hanoi Night Market
The Hanoi Night Market is one for the insatiable shoppers among us. Stretching all the way along Hàng Ngang and Hàng Đào, and into all the small alleys that feed off them to the left and right, this sprawling bazaar has all sorts. There’s a kaleidoscope of clothing, knock-off tees and novelty shorts stacked on high. You’ve got emporiums bursting with spices and silks. Oh, and there’s pungent food stalls touting Vietnamese pho and noodle fries.
Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House was established in 1911 by the French. It features grand glass rooms, pillars, shuttered windows and balconies. Yep – it’s a stunner to behold. But it’s not just a jaw-dropping buildings. It’s also a working events space that runs regular cultural performances. We’re alking contemporary dance, bamboo cirque, philharmonics – the list goes on. You’ll almost certainly need to book all those in advance before you arrive.
Lotus Water Puppet Theatre
Want to see the more cultural side of the nightlife in Hanoi? The Lotus Water Puppet Theatre could just be what you’re after. Water puppetry is a traditional art form with strong roots in Vietnam. It’s often used to show the daily life of villagers, depicting age-old farming, episodes of fishing life, legends of romance, and scenes of children playing. All that’s accompanied by traditional scores played on Indochinese instruments. Despite the show being in Vietnamese, the music and performance are usually enough to transcend any language barrier!
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is a must-visit spot in Hanoi. However, many visitors will overlook the spot after dark. We think it’s a stunner when the twilight hours set in. There’s ethereal lighting on the Buddhist shrines and the pagodas that poke above the water. People gather to take photos and mediate, and there are night bazaars threading through the surrounding streets. You could drop in to see the pretty temples and then head for the beer spots of Bia Hoi Junction, which aren’t too far away to the north.
Nightlife in Hanoi is rich and diverse, providing something for everyone. You can guzzle cold Vietnamese beers on pandemonius street corners, delve into the rich traditions of water puppetry, or hit laser-lit megaclubs with likeminded backpackers. Be safe. Enjoy it. Oh, and if you’ve got anything to add to this list, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.
Also be sure to check out our guide to whether Hanoi is safe.