Hanoi nightlife - night life guide

Hanoi becomes alive at night

Hanoi becomes alive at night

There’s plenty to do after dark in Hanoi, from shopping and sampling the delights of Hanoi cuisine, to exploring its bars and clubs. But the city’s most distinctive forms of evening entertainment are performances of puppetry at the Water Puppet Theatre or ballet or music concerts at the Opera House.

Despite the midnight curfew that prevails through most of the city, there’s a buzz about the place in the evening. It’s also worth checking out local magazines to find out what special events are on while you’re there.

Hanoi nightclubs

Hanoi’s nightclub scene is a bit of a game of cat and mouse between the police and bar owners, making it all rather unpredictable for those that have just arrived in town not knowing where to go.

As soon as a club starts to get popular, the authorities turn up around midnight to enforce punctual closing, and the bosses are often forced to close down as their window of opportunity to make money (around 23:00-midnight) is too short. This can make it a frustrating place to spend a birthday or special celebration.

However, a few that were open at the time of writing and are definitely worth checking out for a night on the tiles are Club Q: at the Daewoo Hotel, 360 Kim Ma, tel: +84 4 3831 5000, fax: +84 4 3831 5500, email: reservation@daewoohotel.com.vn, website: www.hanoidaewoohotel.com.vn, the Face Club: at 6 Hang Bai, tel: +84 98 963 6999, and the Jam Club: at 61A  Luong Ngoc Quyen, Happy Hours: 20:00-22:00; tel: +84 90 435 1234.

Water Puppet Theatre

We’ve all seen puppet performances as kids, but few people outside Vietnam have ever seen performances as they are in Hanoi. Here the stage is a pond, and puppets are controlled not by strings from above, but by rods and pulleys concealed beneath the water.

This gives a strong effect of independent action on the part of puppets, which represent kings and warriors, farmers and maids in a sequence of short sketches. The objective is to entertain, an aim achieved by lots of slapstick humour. Lasting a little under an hour, these shows are great fun for kids and most adults enjoy them too. Be prepared to pay extra to use a camera or video. More on Hanoi culture.

Hanoi Opera House

Built by the French to represent the jewel in the crown of its colonial Empire, the Opera House was on the verge of collapse in the 1990s before a major renovation restored its former glory.

Now it acts as one of Hanoi’s major icons and occasionally hosts performances of ballet or classical music. Check in the local press or at the ticket office (Open: 08:00-17:00) for news of upcoming events. 1 Trang Tien, tel: +84 4 3993 0113, email: hnopera@hanoioperahouse.org.vn, website: www.hanoioperahouse.org.vn

Shopping in Hanoi

You’ll probably find that your days are so packed with sightseeing that there’s little time left for shopping, but fortunately most places that sell gifts and souvenirs stay open till late. This makes it convenient to go shopping before or after dinner, and there are plenty of shops near the restaurants in the Old Quarter where you might find what you’re looking for. More on shopping in Hanoi.

Cinema in Hanoi

OK, so going to the movies is not an essential Vietnamese  experience, but with much cheaper prices than in the West, it’s worth checking out what’s on for when you fancy a lazy evening. A couple of locations worth enquiring at are the Megastar Cineplex, tel: +84 4 3974 3333, fax: +84 4 3974 3160, Vincom Tower (6th floor), 191 Ba Trieu. For art-house films, contact Cinemathequetel: +84 4 3936 2648, at 22A Hai Ba Trung.

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