5 Happening Bars in Hanoi
The streets of Hanoi are filled with makeshift beer gardens, but a handful of bars is enticing patrons upstairs to the rooftops and terraces. by KARRYN MILLER
Sit six floors above Hanoi’s iconic Hoan Kiem lake, at Avalon’s Sky Garden (73 Can Go St., Hoan Kiem; +84 4 3926 0801; avaloncafelounge.com), and look down on the tangle of mopeds and taxis that make up the after-work rush. Sip a Wild Grass cocktail of vodka, lime, finely sliced lemongrass and lemon leaf. The garden-like setting includes a central gazebo sheltering rocking chairs. A white trellis wrapped in vines acts as a makeshift dividing wall from neighboring rooftops, which pale in aesthetic comparison to Avalon’s handsome wood and wicker patio furniture.
Don’s Tay Ho
Head to Hanoi’s largest lake, West Lake, to shuck some oysters at Don’s Tay Ho (16/27 Xuan Dieu St., Tay Ho; +84 4 3719 2828; donsbistro. com). The four-story restaurant/bakery/bar has an open-air veranda up top where you can order the imported seafood—though at a premium. The Canadian- and French-grown oysters start at VND110,000 each. For something more filling, the varied menu includes excellent wood-fired pizzas and some local specialties like pho noodles.
Get even higher views of West Lake and beyond at Summit Lounge (1 Thanh Nien Rd., Ba Dinh; +84 4 3823 8888). The Sofitel Plaza’s 20th-floor bar passionfruit was set to be a penthouse before it became a foam at Summit lounge. The place has kept the high-end abode theme with entry by a cozy private elevator, waitresses dressed as French maids with pink wigs and retro red plastic egg chairs. The view, though, is the main attraction—with a near 360-degree outlook from the floor to ceiling windows, or from the outdoor terrace. Order a mojito with passion-fruit foam, and embrace your inner 80’s child as the weekend DJ spins tunes from the era for a crowd of expats and hip young Vietnamese.
Bar Betta (34C Cao Ba Quat St., Ba Dinh; +84 4 3734 9134), a drinking spot with 60’s counterculture decor. Rabbit-ear TV sets, dusty vintage metal desk fans and rotary phones mingle with an aging medley of chairs and couches. Audrey, Elvis and Marilyn peer down from moss green walls that are also adorned with Soviet vinyl records. Even the ceilings are a mismatch, one with a chandelier, another featuring a hanging sculpture, like a child’s mobile, made with dozens of 40-ounce bottles. The rooftop is more subdued— just a bar with empties bordering its exterior and snug seats amid foliage. There isn’t much of a view, but it’s a laid-back place to enjoy a Tom Collins and mingle with Hanoi’s avant-garde types.
A five-minute cab ride away is the ultra-modern and aptly named Rooftop (Pacific Place, 19th floor, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet St., Hoan Kiem; +84 4 3946 1901) which offers patrons a clear view of the city's rapidly changing skyline. It’s a magnet for Hanoi’s nouveau riche who crowd the small dance floor on weekends. There are seating options for those who are not there to dance: crimson-colored booths, wicker chairs or the dimly lit VIP room with its cigar lounge vibe. Service can be a bit hit-ormiss, and two Russian Standards can set you back VND300,000, but you’re here for the view, which is priceless.