One night in Hanoi - evening guide

Hanoi becomes alive at night

Hanoi becomes alive at night

If you’re looking for a wild party scene after dark, then unfortunately Hanoi is not the place to look. Plenty of entrepreneurs open late-night venues (either bars or night clubs), but the police crack down on any that stay open after midnight, apart from a few that are located in flash hotels, which get an extension until 02:00.

Even so, Hanoi is not a cultural wasteland after dark and there are plenty of activities and venues to keep you busy up until the witching hour. The city’s most unique form of evening entertainment is the water puppet show. The best tickets are 100,000D and the second-best are 60,000D. Whether you are traveling with kids or not, the presentation is well worth watching for its light-hearted and universal humour.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Troupe present shows every afternoon and evening (Open show: 15:30-21:15; Tickets: 60,000-100,000D; camera: 15,000D) at the Kim Dong Theatre, (57 Dinh Tien Hoang St, tel: +84 4 3936 4335 , fax: +84 4 3824 5117, email: thanglong.wpt@fpt.vn, website: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org). The deft way the puppets move and play with each other, seeimingly floating above the water, is marvellous to behold.

Another type of place unique to Vietnam is the bia hoi bar, of which there are several scattered around the centre. The attraction here is the locally-made draught beer, which sells for as little as 3,000D per glass, as well as the authentic atmosphere of Vietnamese relaxing after a day’s work.

These bars also serve snacks with the drinks – a kind of Vietnamese tapas - which is perfect for keeping your stomach lined on the cheap before hitting the town.

It’s a good idea to spend some evenings shopping, as your days will be packed with sightseeing and it’s often too hot to think about shopping before sundown anyway. Many street stalls and boutiques in tourist areas stay open till 23:00, and bargaining is the order of the day. The Old Quarter is the best place to stroll, keeping your eyes open for gifts and souvenirs.

For most people, however, nightlife means enjoying a cocktail in a trendy bar or taking in a set of live music. The Old Quarter/Hoan Kiem District has the lion’s share of the city’s top bars and music venues. Minh’s Jazz Club: Restaurant presents slick jazz nightly from 21:00 in the Jazz Club (3rd floor), while on floors 1 and 2 is the Hot Life Cafe. (Open: 10:00-23:30 (daily); at 65 Quan Su Street (3rd floor), tel: +84 4 3942 0400, email: minhjazz@yahoo.com, website: www.minhjazzvietnam.com).

I-Box: (Open: 08:00-22:00, Happy Hour: 16:00-19:00 (buy one get one free); live music on Mondays, Wednesday (trio, violin or piano), Friday (flamenco music); 32 Le Thai To, tel: +84 4 3828 8820) features live music on many evenings; it also has cosy sofas that are ideal for chilling out after a busy day of sightseeing.

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