As the sun sets in Hanoi, the city does anything but sleep, as travelers and locals alike take advantage of the cool air and enjoy one of the city's many after-hours attractions. From upbeat modern bars with live music to a quiet walk to Hanoi's famous opera theatre you will find something just for you.
Hanoi has a developed and safe system of public transportation (although private cars are recommended) and infrastructure which make its nightlife all the more appealing. No matter where you need to go, you can still get there after the sun goes down.
If all of your revelry reawakens your stomach, you can turn to one of the many street food vendors or cafes that stay open late to find a satisfying treat.
What to do
There are endless entertainment options provided by Hanoi's nightlife. Below are some of the best:
Street Food Tour around the Old Quarter
Hanoi's Old Quarter is a famous conglomeration of shops, foods stalls, craftsmen and merchants. Taking a street food tour around this historic area will fill your stomach and give you the feeling of understanding the local culture as you watch the locals work their trades.
Highlights of a street food tour include a knowledgeable guide who will inform you about the history and significance of every new dish you try. From Banh Minh to Spring Rolls, each street food tour promises a unique selection of numerous different foods.
Between sampling delicious dishes and learning about how they are prepared, you will have time to explore the Old Quarter's other major draw - handicrafts. The Old Quarter is an excellent place to shop for handmade crafts, jewelry and souvenirs, ranging from the one of a kind to the mass produced.
The best way to get on a tour is as part of a larger group. Look at the bottom of the article for information on Asia Highlights tours that make stops in Hanoi and let our knowledgeable staff arrange your trip for you.
Hanoi Opera House
Built almost 100 years ago by the then ruling French colonial government, the Hanoi Opera House is one of Hanoi's most popular destinations due to its staggering architecture and variety of shows. With 600 seats, it is the largest auditorium in Hanoi and has near nightly shows including: ballet, opera, drama, dance, and orchestral performances.
The opera house features neoclassical and gothic architecture which draws plenty of attention from passers-by at the nearby Hoan Kiem Lake which is conveniently located near the Old Quarter. Taking in an opera or drama at the Hanoi Opera house is a good way to come closer to Vietnamese culture and history.
To buy tickets, you will need to hit the box office inside the building; due to the frequency of shows they are rarely sold out. If you are traveling as part of a larger Asia Highlights tour, our guides can even call ahead of time to help make sure you find the right show for you and your family.
Address: 1 Trang Tien Street Hanoi 10000. Ticket prices vary by show.
Thong Long Ca Tru Guild
Let your travel-weary body and mind relax while listening to traditional Vietnamese music at the Thong Long Ca Tru Musicians Guild (Ca Tru). This guild is one of the last of its kind and certainly the most significant in Northern Vietnam. The guild focuses on preserving and performing traditional Vietnamese music, and it has become a cornerstone for promoting the national culture.
The Ca Tru Guild has been called a quintessential stop for any traveler in Hanoi who is serious about experiencing the culture or for anyone who enjoys music. Even if you do not understand the words, the simple yet elegant sets and costumes will combine with the haunting melodies to float you back through time.
Tickets should be purchased on location at: 28 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam and cost around 130K Dong ($6.00 US).
Catch a Water Puppet Theatre Show
One of the most truly unique experiences in Hanoi is the Water Puppet Theatre. The talented puppeteers stand in waist deep water while using ornately shaped water puppets to share the history and myths of Vietnam with the audience.
The shows are educational, interesting, and a delight for children. Accompanied by traditional Vietnamese music, they are an all-round cultural experience at an affordable price! As the popularity of these shows increases so do ticket prices, but they are available for purchase online and range from 200K Dong to much more expensive ($10 US and up).
Tickets to these shows are often sold in combination with street food tours, cyclo (peddle cart) tours, or walking tours. This can be a convenient way to see lots of attractions but it is recommended that you book these tours with a well-known company instead of seeking them out on your own once you are in the country.
The Theatre is Located at: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
Cozy Cafes and Happening Coffee Shops
After a long day of travel you might need a break from adventure. Luckily, Hanoi is virtually covered in places to recharge your batteries - morning, noon, and night.
A cafe for a happy hour? - The perfect stop for any group of travelers. Make sure to try the carrot cake if you have a sweet tooth or the egg coffee if you need a pick-me-up. Vegan friendly, free WIFI, a loaded menu, and helpful staff - the S, as the locals call it, is truly a one-stop-shop.
Address: 17 Hang Khay Street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
The Note Coffee
If you want to leave your mark in Hanoi while enjoying a cup of coffee, then stop at The Note. Every surface is covered by notes from patrons, which contribute to giving this spot the perfect feeling of being a refueling station for travelers.
The staff is helpful and the desserts are great. With a vegetarian and kid-friendly menu and atmosphere this is a versatile shop, suitable for any group.
Address: 64 Luong Van Can, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
At Asia Highlights we offer tailor-made tours through Asia, where you can enjoy all highlights as well as amazing cultural experiences. To get started, send us an email.