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Hanoi Nightlife

Dragonfly Bar-Lounge
15 Hang Buom Street
Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi
Vietnam
Tel: 84 4 926 2177
www.dragonfly.vn

An everyday hangout for twenty-something expats and Vietnamese alike, this friendly two-floor bar has Hanoi's most ambitious drink list (247 cocktails, and shaking) at the thirst-quenching price of 40,000 Vietnamese dong (about $2.50). It's not long before the antic meld of music—everything from anonymous house to Jamiroquai and even Cher—seems to make sense. The ground floor contains a dance area and backroom pool table. Upstairs there's a lounge stocked with games like Jenga and a hookah bar where Hanoi hipsters toke tobacco spiced with apple and mint.

Open daily 10 am to late.

Highway 4
5 Hang Tre Street
Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi
Vietnam
Tel: 84 4 926 0639
www.highway4.com

This rollicking bar brings a taste of the countryside to the masses. Though it's thoroughly Vietnamese, some expats and in-the-know travelers easily join in the karaoke-free fun, and few seem to be able to leave without downing at least one shot of Son Tinh, a rose-apple liqueur distilled especially for the bar. The ground-floor bar of this former French-era home has lacquer-top tables and chairs upholstered with hill-tribe textiles. Upstairs, the low tables and floor cushions of the open-air terrace are the approved spot for happy hour cocktails or sundowners, often taken with exotic, down-home dishes such as whole grilled sparrows, crocodile tail with ginger, or locusts roasted with lime leaves. But please pass on the thit cho hunk hoi (sautéed dog meat).

Open daily 10 am to midnight.

Mao's Red Lounge
7 Ta Hien Street
Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi
Vietnam
Tel: 84 4 926 3104

There's nothing particularly loungelike about this small Old Quarter space. The look is college-dorm bohemian (well-used sofas and stools, pith helmets and baskets hanging on the deep red walls), drink prices (about 65 cents for a beer) hover in the starving-artist range, and the rock music hails from back-in-the-day. But Mao's little nightspot still draws a loyal, diverse crowd of young expats and local characters, who come for the unpretentious, neighborhood-dive vibe and Mr. Mao's friendly banter. No AC to speak of on muggy evenings, but ceiling fans stir the smoke.

Minh's Jazz Club
31 Luong Van Can Street
Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi , Vietnam
Tel: 84 4 828 7890
www.minhjazzvietnam.com

If you crave incongruous cross-cultural experiences—say, a Vietnamese jazz sextet knocking out a slightly stilted cover of "The Girl From Ipanema"—take the handiest cyclo to this long-standing Old Quarter nightspot. Proprietor Quyen Van Minh, a sax instructor at Hanoi Conservatory, has decked the walls with pictures of fellow reedsmen like Stan Getz, John Coltrane, and President Bill Clinton. Tables nearest the bar offer the best views and acoustics. There's no cover charge inside this low, smoky space, but the relatively stiff drink prices—customers are charged separately for booze and mixers—seem to have priced out many locals and expats.

Open daily 10 am to midnight.

Tet Bar
2A Ta Hien Street
Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi
Vietnam
Tel: 84 4 926 3035

Once a grungy bar known as Le Maquis, this hole-in-the-wall spot got a style upgrade—complete with tile floors, terra-cotta-colored walls, and mood lighting—without losing its chill vibe and French-expat fan base. The living-room size makes it always seem busy, yet intimacy is just a few steps up a narrow spiral staircase that leads to a loft and a tiny, futon-equipped mezzanine. The signature house cocktail is a mojito-like concoction of rum, vodka, and lime that tastes even more illicit when sipped to Buddha Bar music during a post-midnight "lock-in."

Open daily 7 pm to 7 am.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.