Hanoi is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The weather is warm and humid, the food is delicious, and most of all you’ll be able to experience this southeast Asian culture right at its capital.
Hanoi is known for the Old Quarter where most of life happens in the city and there are many activities to do during the daytime. However, this city also comes to life at night, and that’s one of my favorite things about Hanoi.
This article will cover all of your options and give some tips on fun things to do in Hanoi at night so you can easily create your evening itinerary!
15 Fun Things to do in Hanoi at Night
1. See a Water Puppet Show
Water puppetry originally started in the rice paddy fields of Vietnam where puppeteers would stand waist-deep in the water under a makeshift pagoda.
Today water puppet shows have developed a stage filled with water and an actual behind the screening stage for the puppeteers who control the water puppets with bamboo rods and mechanisms under the water.
The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi makes a great introduction to traditional Vietnamese water puppetry filled with musical accompaniment and everything!
Check out Tripadvisor’s page for deals on water puppet tickets!
2. Visit the Night Market Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan is located in the Old Quarter and is only open on the weekends from 6 to 10:30 PM, although you may see stalls getting set up at 5 PM.
Peak hours tend to be toward the end of the evening, so you can head there early if you want to beat the crowds.
The market is just under 2 miles long and has everything from clothing and cultural art pieces to shoes and purses!
This is a great spot to grab your souvenirs or cheap products. There are also food vendors here so you can try some Vietnamese street food!
Since prices at this market are pretty low already, there isn’t a lot of bargaining, though you may certainly try!
Because the market is so big (around 4,000+ booths), just know that it may be pretty crowded so you’ll want to keep all your belongings pretty close at hand so you don’t get pick-pocketed.
3. Take a Motorbike Tour
A motorbike tour is a great way to see all that Hanoi has to offer. On our group motorbike tour, we each got our own driver who followed each other to all the must-see sights at night time!
The motorbike drivers are very safe while driving around the city and since they are locals, they are aware of any trouble that does occur and will give advice on what to do in each area.
Book your motorbike tour with Viator as they have multiple options to choose from! This was one of my favorite ways to see Hanoi at night!
4. Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh was the president of northern Vietnam in the 1950s who fought for its independence. After his death, he was buried in Hanoi at the mausoleum and is now embalmed in a glass case with military protection.
Of course, you can’t enter the mausoleum at night, but seeing this structure at night time is pretty amazing in itself.
There are fewer people in the square of the mausoleum so you are able to take in the full view of the building and see its massive size in the night light.
5. Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake, also referred to as the Lake of the Returned Sword, is located in the heart of the Old Quarter and is a huge gathering place for locals.
According to legend, as the Emperor was riding in a boat on the lake after defeating China, a Golden Turtle God came up out of the water and asked for his magic sword back.
Today, there have been multiple sightings of large shelled turtles around the lake for many years! In the evenings, Hoan Kiem Lake is lit up beautifully and you’ll see large gatherings of people hanging out here, enjoying their evening out!
6. West Lake
West Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi, about a 15-minute drive from the Old Quarter. Because it is so large and popular, there are many recreational activities here including restaurants, parks, and gardens.
As you visit this lake in the evening, you can take a look at the lit-up skyline in the background of West Lake. You can also enjoy a late evening stroll through the gardens at West Lake.
7. Long Bien Bridge
The Long Bien Bridge is a historic cantilever bridge across the Red River that connects two districts, Hoan Kiem and Long Bien of Hanoi’s city center.
It was built in 1891 during French colonial rule to provide transport links between these areas while also acting as fire safety for locals living on either side – thanks to its unique design!
Today, only bikes, motorbikes, and pedestrians use this bridge. All other vehicles are directed to more modern bridges to cross the Red River. While standing on this bridge in the evening, you can look across and see the city lights.
8. Get a Massage
Southeast Asia is well known for its massage parlors and cheap prices, so when in Vietnam, get a massage! A Vietnamese massage is focused on stimulating blood circulation so you’ll feel a lot of clapping along with your massage.
Depending on where you go, they may ask you to remove your clothes or change into the robes they have available.
You may also be served a warm drink as you wait for your masseuse to come. There may be a menu for you to choose your massage, including facial, body, and feet.
Again, depending on the place, you may be asked to pay upfront or after you finish. Usually, they aren’t any tips, but you can clarify if there are any questions.
Check out Tripadvisor’s list of spa centers in Hanoi.
Eat All the Things in Hanoi at Night!
9. Enjoy the Views from a Rooftop Bar
Seeing a city from up high is quite the experience! You get a bird’s eye view of the skyline, the layout of the city, and tiny little people continuing life down below.
In Hanoi, there are various rooftop bars for your viewing enjoyment. You can order a drink, grab dinner, and enjoy the view of the bustling city. The Rooftop Guide has a few recommended places to check out!
10. Take a Local Food Tour
Experience the tastiest foods of Vietnam by following a local guide to all the best restaurants on a food tour!
The best part is sitting down to eat at one restaurant and then walking out to try delicious food at another restaurant so you can try out multiple restaurants-everything from spring rolls to banh mi sandwiches!
The walk can last up to 3 hours and you will experience about 10 different dishes. You will pay per person for the tour and they will meet you at your hotel or hostel in the Old Quarter to start your walk!
Check out Get Your Guide to reserve your walking food tour!
11. Take a Cooking Class
A cooking class is a wonderful way to experience the food in Vietnam. Vietnamese food is so fresh and delicious that you’ll be sure to impress family and friends back home when you come back and cook them an authentic Vietnamese meal.
To pick the best cooking class, make sure that it includes a visit to the market so you’ll get the full experience of picking out the correct ingredients for the meal. You’ll also want to check that it’s a dinner meal you’ll be cooking for your group!
There are so many options for cooking classes lasting anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, so view Tripadvisor’s page for some great deals and choose the one that best fits your needs!
12. Eat Pho Like the Locals
Pho is a soup-based noodle bowl that is (dare I say) the heart and soul of Vietnamese cuisine. A good bowl of pho is determined by the awesomeness of the broth!
The hot broth usually cooks the softened rice noodles and beef and more exotic add-ons like tripe and tendon. You can also top it off with green onions, hoisin sauce, and siracha to taste.
Because of the popularity of this dish, it’s a must to have a bowl like the locals in a pho stand and get the most authentic version of this noodle bowl!
13. Try a Banh Mi Sandwich
A banh mi sandwich, pronounced BUN-Me, is a short baguette often split down the middle and has ingredients such as pork sausage, cilantro, cucumber, carrots, and spicy jalapenos, red chili, and mayonnaise.
This sandwich is also a staple food in Vietnamese cuisine and can be found in all corners of Hanoi. One of the best-voted places to try this sandwich is at the Banh Mi 25 stand in Hanoi.
14. Try Vietnamese Coffee with Egg Yolk
Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in the 1800s by a French Catholic priest, and today Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee exporter!
Vietnamese Coffee is traditionally brewed in phins (a small metal cup) and creates a pretty strong brew that has been perfected over time. Usually, you can add milk or sweetened condensed milk to dilute the strong brew.
When planning my trip to Vietnam, I heard a unique addition of egg yolk into the brewed coffee, so I knew I had to try this infamous drink even if I personally don’t drink a lot of coffee.
The egg yolk creates an interesting creamy twist to coffee–this is a must-try even if you only take a small sip! The most famous coffee shop to try this drink is Cafe Giang, where this drink was invented by Mr. Giang.
The cafe is in the Old Quarter and can be tricky to find.
Check out Tripadvisor’s page to see reviews of Cafe Giang and directions to this cafe!
15. Drink a “Fresh Beer” at Bia Hoi Junction
Bia Hoi, also known as fresh beer, is the drink of choice in Hanoi due to it being so cheap. Bia Hoi is referred to as “fresh beer” because it must be consumed within 24 hours of being made! It is a very light beer made of rice, malt, and sugar.
At Bia Hoi Junction, you’ll find tons of locals sitting in front of restaurants having a drink with their meal, enjoying their time with friends and family.
Map of Things to do in Hanoi
The Best Time to Visit Hanoi
Hanoi’s busiest time of year is the summer months when many tourists come to visit; however, if you want to skip the crowds, visit Hanoi during its spring season from March to April. Temperatures range from 65°F-85°F with the possibility of rain sprinkles.
The best minimum amount of time to spend in Hanoi is about 3 days so you’ll be able to experience the whole city and all it has to offer.
If you are planning on spending more time in northern Vietnam, you can definitely plan a day trip out to other areas up north.
Getting Around Hanoi at Night
To get to your hotel or hostel from the airport, you can take a taxi or a bus as they are accessible and affordable.
Everything near the Old Quarter is pretty close together so you can easily walk to all your destinations.
It’s best if you bring an unlocked phone so that you can purchase a SIM card to use or have international data available to use as navigation. I used my phone for Google Maps and got around pretty easily by walking.
Where to Stay in Hanoi
It’s best to stay in the Old Quarter area of Hanoi where everything is within walking distance. If you stay outside of town things can be much harder to get to and buses will take longer than just taking a scooter taxi around the city.
In the Old Quarter, accommodations are very affordable–both hotels and hostels are available and pretty safe to stay in!
Make sure to book your hotel in advance so you don’t have any trouble when you arrive and have your passport ready to show!
Top Packing Items for Hanoi
Vietnam is hot and humid year-round so bring clothing that is lightweight and breathable as you hang out in Hanoi. Tank tops and shorts are great options; however, if you are planning visits to temples, you may want to bring some long pants to cover your legs.
Make sure to have comfortable walking shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking in the Old Quarter and getting to places in this area.
I would recommend a small backpack or bag to carry your personal items with you. This is to protect against pick-pocketing or losing important items like cash and identification documents.
Safety Precautions in Hanoi at Night
Vietnam is generally a safe place to visit with low crimes against foreigners. However, as it is with any new place, it’s best to take precautions.
Keep your belongings close to you and make sure that it would be hard for you to be pickpocketed. Keep your backpack or bag in front of you as you walk through crowded streets so that your things can’t be taken without your notice.
If you are out past 10 PM, stay on lit paths with bigger streets for walking as you may come across intoxicated people.
Wrap-up Things to do in Hanoi at Night
Many of these activities can be done in the daytime as well, but the whole city comes to life in the evening.
Walking through the streets of the Old Quarter under the stars with the crowds out on the streets, and enjoying a late meal really shows the culture of the Vietnamese people.
When planning your trip to Vietnam, make sure to include as many of these recommended activities into your evening plans to get some of the best experiences in Hanoi!
Have you been to Hanoi? What would you add to this list? Continue the conversation by commenting below.
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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources
Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.
- Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
- Accommodations: I love budget-friendly rentals or booking at a hotel where I can earn points. For hotels, I go through Booking.com or book directly with Marriott (for points + rewards). When I travel internationally, I’ll book through Hostelworld for very budget-friendly stays. For vacation rentals, I usually look through Airbnb, but you could also use Vrbo. Expedia also has some great bundles for hotels, flights, and car rentals altogether.
- Transportation: For travel in the United States, I love renting through Expedia with Enterprise or Thrifty. They have been consistent and provide the best customer service. For international travel, I’ll book through Rome2Rio or Eurail for trains or bus fares.
- Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through my favorite travel credit card. I also use this card for everything on my trip including dining, excursions, and souvenirs. Apart from earning 5x more points towards free travel, there are amazing benefits: no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement (so I can book worry-free), fraud protection, emergency assistance – it’s really a great deal! Check it out here!
- Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
- Tours + Experiences: I absolutely love my tours! Everything from eerie walking ghost tours to food tours, I’ll usually book something every trip either through Viator or GetYourGuide. I also love LastMinute.com for very affordable tickets to theaters and other experiences in Europe.
- What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack. For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.