The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night

Nga Do
From early evening strolls and performances to late-night bites and jazz clubs. The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night and here's how to enjoy the best of Hanoi's nightlife when you travel there:

1. Take a heritage walk

Even the city's most historic places feel as though they're pulsing with new life come sundown. Every evening, the storied Hoan Kiem Lake -- the spiritual and geographic centerpiece of Hanoi -- attracts people of all ages who come in search of a breath of fresh air and an endless range of activities -- from walking to jogging, aerobics, tai chi and daydreaming.

The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night
Photo by mailme6 on the pixabay
It's especially pleasant on weekend evenings, when the otherwise ungovernable traffic is banned from the area, creating a wonderful, laid-back festival vibe all around the ever-enchanting lake. After a short lakeside stroll, you can head east from the south end of Hoan Kiem to the Hanoi Opera House, which hosts regular performances by Vietnam's National Symphony Orchestra, as well as a twice-weekly modern dance show called Lang Toi (My Village). This visually stunning production blends contemporary cirque -- think acrobats, contortionists and jugglers -- with traditional Vietnamese music and themes.

2. Get cultured

The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night 1
Early evening is also the best time to dive into Hanoi's vibrant contemporary arts scene. "Many tourists aren't aware of how much is going on in this city every night," Pham Hoang Mien, co-owner of event listings website Hanoi Grapevine said. The website aims to list every exhibition opening, art installation and cultural performance in Hanoi, making it a valuable resource for curious travelers. "If you are into visual arts and want to learn about the contemporary art in Vietnam, the must-visit destination is Manzi art café," advises Mien. Situated in a beautiful old villa on one of Hanoi's most tranquil streets, Manzi also happens to be a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine.

3. Binge on street food

Even Barack Obama couldn't resist the appeal of Hanoi's street food. 2016, while US president, Obama joined Anthony Bourdain for a dinner of bun cha (barbecued pork served with airy rice noodles). You could follow their footsteps to Bun Cha Hoang Lien cafe and order the Obama Combo, which includes a serving of bun cha, seafood spring roll and a bottle of Hanoi Beer for a princely $4. But, whisper it. Bun cha is really a lunchtime dish.

The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night 2
Photo by Kasman on the pixabay
For dinner, Tracey Lister, the Australian author of "Vietnamese Street Food," advises travelers to wander the frenetic but fascinating Old Quarter -- a centuries-old district dedicated to craft, trade and, nowadays, tourism -- to seek out the most popular vendors and dive in: "The Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night. It's a good time to eat on the street too, as the city slows down a notch -- not too much, just enough to enjoy a breeze blowing through the laneways."

4. Tap into local beer

Conveniently enough, the Old Quarter is also the perfect place to drink a glass (or two) of bia hoi. Often consumed streetside from tiny plastic stools, the Hanoi proletariat's beer of choice will set you back as little as 25 cents a draft. In the evening, young travelers gravitate to what's known as Bia Hoi Corner, to trade travel stories over cheap eats and beer.

But for a more local (read: less touristy) experience, and far superior grub, head for 1A Duong Thanh Street on the western side of the Old Quarter -- about a 10-minute walk from Bia Hoi Corner. Bia hoi is an easy, and ubiquitous, option if you're simply looking to cool off with a light lager. And for those seeking high-quality, craft beers? We'd recommend making a beeline for the Standing Bar. The city's first dedicated taproom overlooks the tranquil waters of Truc Bach Lake and gets creative with its recipes. "What people love is that they're all brewed here in Vietnam and many of the beers use local ingredients, from jasmine and coffee to cashew and chocolate."

5. Catch a show

The longest-running live act in town might still be found at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, where a traditional Vietnamese orchestra accompanies a short puppet show. Based on a tradition that traces its roots back to the 11th century, the short, nightly shows relate classic Vietnamese folk tales and legends. But for more contemporary sounds, Hanoi Rock City lures music lovers with its fresh, eclectic performances. "We have always hosted a diverse range of acts in our Red Room and in the courtyard -- folk, reggae, jazz, indie, grunge, hardcore ... you name it," co-founder Duc Anh said. "We just want to showcase great music in Hanoi."

The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night 4
Photo by Thomas Schoch
Around town, other notable venues for live music include The Doors Cafe, Rafiki's, Binh Minh Jazz Club and Hanoi Social Club. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, 57B Dinh Tien Hoang St, Hanoi, Hoan Kiem, Vietnam.

6. Savor a nightcap

In the Old Quarter -- particularly along Ta Hien Street, Bao Khanh and Luong Ngoc Quyen Streets -- there's no shortage of watering holes that cater to those looking for good-value beer and mixed drinks. When it comes to "drinks with a twist," the new star of the Hanoi scene is Nê cocktail bar, located on a 24-hour food street that runs along the western edge of the Old Quarter.

The Hanoi Old Quarter morphs into a different being at night 5
Photo by judithscharnowski on the pixabay
Opened in early 2017, Nê pours classic cocktails, such as negronis and whisky sours. But when in Hanoi, why not ask one of the young mixologists to conjure up a more imaginative potation?

These things make a completely different Hanoi at night, how many things have you experienced? If you have not had any experience, I recommend doing it the next vacation, any questions please feel free to contact:

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