The capital of Vietnam is known for a lot of things; crazy traffic, hundreds of mopeds, the sprawling old quarter with its street food and street sellers and, of course, its ridiculously cheap beer!
After three months in Borneo, where beer was limited and cheap beer was even more sparse, it took all of a few hours after landing in Hanoi to set off in search of a cold beverage. Discovering that it can be found for as little as 5000VND (17p or 21 cent) made the decision to drink some everyday an easy one!
Here are our top five places where you can enjoy the coldest beer for the cheapest prices;
Directions; walk along Ma May until it joins Hang Buom, look up and you will see a rooftop bar with lots of people oggling down at the crazy street below…you’ve arrived!
Price; here you can enjoy a draught beer for 15k VND or in happy hour from 8pm-10pm its buy 2 get 1 free
Notes; you can sip on your beer from a rooftop perch looking down on the traffic below…and have a laugh at the newbie backpackers who still haven’t quite got the hang of crossing the road!
Opposite Hanoi Backpackers Downtown
Directions; find Hanoi Backpackers Downtown on Ma May, directly opposite is a small street stand selling drinks. In the evening the Bia Hoi kegs get rolled out alongside the small blue plastic stalls and this is the place to be!
Price; beer here is really the cheapest around at just 5k VND a glass!
Notes; finish one beer here and as soon as you put it down a fresh one will be put in front of you…they really keep them rolling! This place is right in the heart of the old quarter madness so you can sit street side and watch as the night unfolds. Just be careful not to be run over by a tuk-tuk or car as we found out on several occasions.
Hanoi Backpackers Downtown
Directions; at the end of Ma May, keep walking until you see a lot of your typical bedraggled backpackers hanging around and you’ve reached the place…there is also a huge sign so you really can’t miss it!
Price; FREE!!! No, were not kidding. Between 5-6pm the beer in here is free, no catches but once its gone its gone! They also run happy hour between 7-8pm (which often gets extended) where beer is buy one get one free and at 25k VND a pop this makes it just 12.5k VND a bottle! Excellent!
Notes; if you’re looking for somewhere social to hang out or to meet some people then this is a great place to do it. It does often get very rowdy however (not surprising after all that free beer!) so if that’s not your thing then you can always try the sister hostel on Ngo Huyen which does the same offers but is slightly more chilled! Both run free bar crawls from 11pm too!
Directions; walk down Ta Hien just off of Hang Buom aka Pub Street until you get to the crossroads or beer corner. Green Pepper is the one with the blue stools and usually a lot of people sitting outside!
Price; the draught beer here is 15k VND a glass or more if you’d prefer a bottle
Notes; you’re right in the heart of the action here, so you can sit back and watch the mopeds whizz by, the constant stream of people exploring the maze of old city streets and the revellers heading down pub street next to you! When we arrived here there was even a film being shot…we are now extras in a Spanish film…claim to fame!!
Beer Street (of course!!)
Directions; Ta Hien just off of Hang Buom, look for the small side street that’s packed with restaurants and plastic seats!
Price; now you have to be careful down here as it is probably the most touristy street in Hanoi! The food is most definitely overpriced and we wouldn’t recommend eating here unless you really just want convenience and the beer can be too. Don’t be put off by the people hustling to get you into their place, check the menus and hunt around! Towards the end of the street opposite Local Bar is where the bargains can be found! A bottle here is usually 20k VND and some do the local Bia Hoi for 5-8k VND too.
Notes; most of the stalls further down are just in the front of people houses but the hosts are very friendly and never seem to run out of beer. Beer street has a real buzz and for those of you who want to continue the party it has a number of bar/clubs along it too! Just don’t end up like us…
Craft Beer Pub
Directions; Hang Buom, look for a place with wooden interior and some wooden folding chairs outside
Price; the draught beer here is 25k VND but they have a great happy hour from 6 – 8/9pm so it makes it 12.5k VND per glass!
Notes; this place is great if your looking for somewhere a bit more bar like or if you want to sit inside (and with a proper seat!) It also has a big screen inside for any sport fans! Just be careful as whilst we were here they decided to change the times of the happy hour but if you persist then they should let you have it!
No idea why you’d get sick of drinking cheap beer but if you do fancy something a bit more upmarket or just simply want to go somewhere with a fantastic view then here is our top suggestion!
Directions; head to the big crazy roundabout at the top of the lake, look up and you will see a lot of rooftop bars, you have Legend Cafe or Highlands Coffee house on the one side (these also provide great views) or the Coffee Club on the other side which is the spot we chose.
Price; beer in here was 30-45k VND so more expensive but still not too bad and for the view is worth the splurge on at least one!
Notes; the views up on these rooftop bars is really unbeatable! We recommend going at night so that you can look out over the lake all lit up, the Hanoi skyline and then look down and become mesmerised by the truly chaotic traffic below. Around 5-7pm is great time to go just as its going-home-time and the traffic gets even more crazy! As per the name this place also does a good range of coffees/teas/cocktails and food although it is all quite pricey!
So there you have it, now go and drink to your hearts content…responsibly of course please!
C & J x