Hanoi becomes more vibrant and attractive at night.

Streets in Hanoi downtown brighten up at night and become crowded as of 19 pm when people and visitors flock to the Old Quarter to enjoy a bustling atmosphere with plenty of shops, eateries, bars, and supermarkets.

 Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the capital city is the favorite place for visitors to Hanoi. Photo: kinhtedothi.vn

Trang Tien Street, located by iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, is well-known for the namesake popsicle, book stores, and paint shops, while Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Hang Gai, Hang Bong, and Hang Ma streets are seen as ideal destinations for shopaholics and Ta Hien, which is dubbed the beer street for its street food and drought beer. These streets are making up an animated Hanoi Old Quarter when the night falls.

Sitting on the sidewalks in tiny plastic stools by a street eatery, the barriers of language, culture, and eating habits seem blurry.  

Nightfall is amusing for tourists and lucrative for traders. It has generated great job opportunities for workers, increased income for small businesses, and attracted more tourists.

The development of the night economy is seen as a lever for tourism when the Covid-19 pandemic is basically controlled.

With that in mind, the city’s districts have taken actions to spur the night economy. Many localities have identified walking streets with shopping stores and street food courts as a core of the local night-time economy.

According to the municipal People’s Committee, Hoan Kiem District in the historical center of the capital city has made great gains in night-time economic development, making a significant contribution to the revenue of the district and the locals. 

 Hoan Kiem District has gained achievements in night-time economy development. Photo: Pham Hung

The capital city at night in the eyes of visitors should not only be shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, and trendy shops, but also street shows and city tours.

Being aware of this, Tay Ho District has been active in building an art performance space and making Trinh Cong Son Street a food street. Meanwhile, the Ba Dinh District has planned to open a night-time food street in the Dao Ngoc-Ngu Xa area. In Hai Ba Trung District, a walking street along Thong Nhat Park and the nearby Thien Quang Lake will be open soon.

Long Bien district, though not a metropolitan and touristic locality, Ngoc Lam food street has become a new choice for Hanoians.

In Son Tay Township, about 50km from the capital city, the local authorities have opened a weekend walking street around the Son Tay fortress. 

According to economic expert Dinh Trong Thinh, in many countries, night activities are an important source of income. In the UK, the GDP share of entertainment, shopping, food, and night activities is 6%, while in Australia, the size of the night economy is $102 billion, and in Japan, it fetched an estimated 400 billion yen. Meanwhile, New York is known as the “city that never sleeps”, and China is determined to turn the night economy into a real “gold mine”.

Night tour – a highlight of Hanoi

The pedestrian street of Son Tay’s ancient citadel. Photo: Lai Tan

It is worth spending every minute in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Visitors can enjoy the charm of Hanoi and street food through food walking tours or food motorcycle tours at night.

Hoan Kiem Lake is an interesting destination to walk around and take photos at night. After sunset, the light sparked from the building, and the houses nearby reflects on the water surface, creating a colorful sight. The pedestrian path around the lake becomes ideal to take a stroll and enjoy fanciful scenery. 

 Ta Hien Street is in the center of the Old Quarter. Photo: Pham Hung

Meanwhile, West Lake has long been a quarter of foreigners with a high concentration of diplomatic and expat residences. Catering to visitors’ needs, the area is home to many upscale restaurants and bars. Near the West Lake is the Quang Ba flower market, which is busy after midnight. This market supplies flowers to all flower shops and vendors in the capital city. There are many kinds of flowers with various colors and fragrances – it’s a little bit like walking into a giant outdoor garden, but at night.

“Deciphering Thang Long Imperial Citadel” night tour, a new product of Hanoi, has always been packed on weekends since its launch in April. After months of restart, the tourism program attracted thousands of visitors.

 The “Deciphering Thang Long Imperial Citadel” night tour. Photo: Lai Tan

It is one of a series of new and unique products successfully operated by travel companies, tourist destinations, and the municipal tourism agency in an effort to boost the city’s night-time economy associated with tourism development. The diversification of night tourism products and services will give visitors more entertainment options at night, helping to lengthen their stay and spending, according to local experts. To make the visitors of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel more impressed, the destination organizer displayed artifacts that are the “phoenix-themed Bodhi blade” made of terracotta. According to the national treasure register composed by the Institute of Imperial Citadel Studies, it is one of the most beautiful artifacts found so far that remained almost intact.

 Local visitors join the night tour at Hoa Lo Prison Relic in Hanoi. Photo: Hoa Lo Prison Relic 

To revive the city’s tourism industry after a two-year pandemic hiatus, municipal authorities have requested tourism companies and management agencies to restructure products to meet demand from domestic travelers. The development of the night economy is also expected to contribute to the goal of bringing the flow of visitors back to the level of the pre-pandemic period.

Dang Huong Giang, Director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism said the capital city has planned to build spaces for night activities such as a night market area, and a display area for products from Hanoi’s traditional craft villages as well as organize a souvenir gift market in the city.

She added that the municipal tourism department will form night-time spaces such as a new pedestrian zone around Hai Ba Trung District’s Thien Quang Lake; turning Dong Da District’s Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (the Temple of Literature) into a  space with many cultural and historical activities; setting up walking streets in the Hoang Mai District’s South New Urban Area and  Bitexco Urban Area by Ring Road 3; promoting the Son Tay Ancient Citadel pedestrian space; organizing night food street in combination with walking spaces around Ngoc Khanh Lake and Ngu Xa in Ba Dinh District.

“Nighttime activities have negative aspects, such as noise pollution and disturbing the lives of locals. The city will issue specific regulations on operating hours, location supervision, permitted business services and management mechanisms,” she stressed.