Hanoi Nightlife & Fun After Dark

Hanoi nightlife has a reputation for being the dull cousin of Saigon and until recently it was a fair criticism. It is still a relatively sedate city but a decent number of bars & clubs have opened, livening things up considerably.

Vietnam's capital city has never attracted as many tourists as Saigon, but there are plenty of good reasons to put it on your travel itinerary.

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Hanoi is one of Southeast Asia's mega-cities with a population over 7 million, making it slightly more populous than Saigon, and it enjoys some of the most stunning natural beauty spots you're ever likely to see.

I challenge anyone to go go on a late afternoon junk boat cruise through Ha Long bay and watch the sunset amongst the all the rising limestone rock-formations without being completely blown away by it all - it is genuinely jaw dropping if you have any interest at all in such things.

Getting to Hanoi is a relatively simple affair with many flights each day from nearby cities. Flight times from either Bangkok or Saigon take around 2 hours to complete and, whilst there might not be many direct flight from Europe of America to Hanoi, you can usually arrange a connecting flight with only a minimal delay.

Hanoi at nightHanoi at night.

Another possible selling point comes with the much cooler climate in Hanoi during the winter months. If you wish to escape the heat of Thailand and other SEA countries for a few days then an excursion will be a welcome, cheap, and easy thing to arrange.

Hanoi Nightlife Bars & Girls

A big part of the attraction with Hanoi nightlife comes with the necessary exploration of its narrow side streets and bustling alleys. In most cities of the world you'd want to avoid such places due to potential hidden dangers lurking in dark places, but Vietnam is different and Hanoi is just as good as Saigon for exploring stuff, and safety levels are really high.

Down these alleys and side streets there are lots of small shops of all sorts, massage is available, and best of all are Bia Hoi bars. Bia Hoi is locally produced beer and it is very cheap - and good. You'll find lots of these tiny establishments as you wander around the city - just look for the plastic stools!

Hanoi nightlifeOne of the many narrow Hanoi streets, perfect for explorers...

Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the most picturesque parts of the city and the surrounding area also happens to be the best area for bars and clubs. It's only a small lake, but it serves as a good navigation point for getting yourself around town. It's a busy area and I recommend using it as a base camp for your preferred hotel choice - scroll down to the hotel section below for my favorites.

Hanoi Nightlife Bars; The Old Quarter

Being a huge city there are a lot of bars to choose from, and that makes lists a bit futile. What maters is groups of bars concentrated within an area that you don't mind walking around, not good bars isolated in some far off district. There are some great bars, usually hotel bars, in places that you won't go to and that aren't mentioned below. The bars that are mentioned are a selection of options near to Hoan Kiem Lake and mostly on or around Ma May Street:

  • Bia Hoi Outlets - as mentioned above, these are really good places to kick your night off with some friendly locals and cheap beer. There are some close to the lake and other bars I mention on Ma May Street.
  • Fat Cat Bar - just around the corner from Ma May on Luong Ngoc Quyen is this small but highly regarded pub. Very tourist friendly and located right next to another bunch of Bia Hoi outlets.
  • Base Bar - this one is located on Ma May. It's a friendly bar with a policy of handing out free shots! The music system is good and you can buy some balloons that contain laughing gas here.
  • Camelia Lounge - a very stylish place, but pricey. It's worth making the effort to find it if you like stylish stuff with champagne and cocktails etc. It's housed within one of my recommended hotels i.e. the Melia Hanoi Hotel.
  • The Opera Nightclub - this club is located near to the Fat Cat Bar on Luong Ngoc Quyen and it's worth the trip if you like clubbing. Drink prices are higher than in the bars, but not so much so that you'll be scared off.

Hanoi Girls & Dating Opportunities

There is only a small expat scene in Hanoi, and only a very small pay-for-pleasure industry which focuses on short-term liaisons rather than the holiday girlfriend model you get in some places. The upshot of this is that serious romantic relationships between Vietnamese girls and western men are relatively rare.

Finding a long-term love interest in Vietnam is easy to do if you take your time and enjoy a courtship. The ladies of Vietnam are seeking permanent relationships on:

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However, you shouldn't assume that there is no interest in western men from the local ladies. There is a lot of interest - but you'll need to be the respectable sort of guy with respectable intentions. As with central Vietnam, the girls in the north are very traditional and conservative, which means they care a great deal about their reputation.

I mentioned on my main page about Vietnamese girls that many of them are comfortable with the idea of leaving their homelands behind for a new life in the west. This is much less true in north Vietnam because there is no history of emigration after the Vietnam War.

If you wish to get involved with a Hanoi girl, I think it would be best if you are intending to live in the city or somewhere nearby. Also, Hanoi nightlife venues are not the best places to meet them. Online dating, shopping malls, and food markets are all better options.

Hanoi Escorts and Sex Workers

You may be happy to read there are plenty of Hanoi escorts working in the city and that they are easily located via an online search. There are some beautiful call girls available and the typical prices asked by Hanoi escorts are high, they are not higher than elsewhere in the region. If you are intent on using the services of a prostitute then I think that these ladies are the best option.

One thing I'd urge you to resist are out-of-the-way brothels (if you know of any) for the reasons given on my page about Vietnam escorts.

The second reasonable alternative for finding pay for pleasure thrills is to head off to a massage parlor, and the best way to source the best parlors is to ask a local taxi driver. You might struggle to find the full happy ending massage list of extras that are so common in Thailand, but with a little perseverance you'll find something.

You certainly won't find any Thai style a-go-go bars in the Hanoi nightlife list of entertainment options, and things are much more restricted even compared to Saigon or Nha Trang, with none of the 'hostess bars' that you can find tn those cities.

There are some opportunities to meet local working-girls in hotel discos and around Hoan Kiem Lake. These ladies are often not so sweet and lovely as you find elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and you will be at risk of being scammed by them, so my advice is to avoid them.

The Best Hotels in Hanoi

As I mentioned above, the best Hanoi nightlife bars and clubs are located in the old quarter around Hoan Kiem Lake. That being the case, it seems like a good idea to look for a good hotel in that area.

Hanoi girlsA common sight in Hanoi... Buddhist prayer.

Depending on your budget, I'd go for one of these three hotel options:

  • Icon 36 Hotel & Residence - this one is a solid choice that's well located on Bat Su Street. Rooms are modern and clean and I think that it is a real bargain, being priced well below other hotels of this spec.
  • MK Premier Boutique Hotel - a mid-priced hotel that is definitely worth the extra expense over a budget option. You get some excellent views from its bar/restaurant and lots of extra facilities.
  • Melia Hanoi Hotel - for a more upmarket hotel with extra luxury I'd go for this option. It also has the advantage of housing one of the most stylish lounge bars in Hanoi, the Camelia Lounge.

Final Thoughts about Hanoi Nightlife

Whilst the Hanoi nightlife scene still lags behind Saigon by quite some distance both in terms of scale and variety, things are picking up with new bars and attractions starting to spring up.

It remains to be seen whether or not the new developments will bring 'hostess' bars with them, and I wouldn't be surprised if it does not, but Vietnam is not generally a naughty boys' destination anyway. Thailand remains a much better option for that, as does Cambodia and the Philippines.

The Hanoi nightlife has something different to offer, and whilst it won't please everyone it does have a charm that grows on you. If you prefer a night out with a little more culture and heritage, then you can get more info on the here. The people are friendly, and you struggle to find a safer capital city at night anywhere in the world.

I haven't even mentioned the coffee shops in Hanoi, they are of a very high standard and quite unique - some serve coffee made with egg and everyone that tries it loves the richness of it.

If you prefer your climate to have distinct seasons then the Hanoi nightlife will appeal. During winter months the temperatures can drop to a level where you'll at least need to wear jeans/trousers, long-sleeve shirt or jumper and a pair shoes. This makes serious dating a bit easier since you'll be expected to dress this way - which is not something you'll enjoy when temperatures soar!

This sweet young lady is only 19 years old and she comes from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam in the North. To find more girls just like her:

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No, I hate sex

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