Draught beer (Bia Hoi) – The typical drink in Hanoi

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Beer the world over is served in all kinds of establishments. Hanoi can offer the simplest of
places selling draught beer to fine hotels and restaurants; the product is just the same but the price will inevitably somewhat different. When you holiday in Vietnam, you can sit on a plastic stool by the sidewalk in Hanoi and sample draught beer, local or imported and watch people go about their business in the bustling streets. There are many attractions in a typical Vietnam travel package and one is certainly observing daily life, rural as well as urban. A draught beer in Hanoi is a ‘’must’’ and if it is not part of an organized Vietnam tour package, it is certainly something for your space time.

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In Vietnam 30% of the draught beer sold “Bia Hoi’’. In Hanoi, there are plenty of beers that you can try; imports like San Miguel and Heineken are known throughout the world as are Carlsberg and increasingly Tiger. Others to try are 333, Saigon, Hanoi and La Rue. The cheapest is inevitably local and you will go along way to find any cheaper anywhere in the world. It is just 3%, unpasteurized and is sold in the streets in mugs. The locals are likely to go out 4 or 5 times a week for a drink though the average beer consumption per person across the board is far less than in many other countries. Local businessmen may have quite a session at lunchtime even; perhaps that is when most business is transacted?

As the local standard of living rises, so does the consumption of bottled beer. It has resulted in an increase of upmarket pubs in Hanoi. Red Beer (Bia Do) has been launched recently and sales seem to be exceeding all expectations. It doesn’t mean that the traditional street places selling beer are losing their popularity however. Even in the noise and fumes of the street traffic, they are thriving even if the raising of voices reflects both the noise and the amount of consumption. All types of people mingle in these places; professional people, drivers, retired people and newspapermen may be sitting on the same dirty stools around a table. No one seems to mind the surroundings.

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Bia Hoi is a must try drink in any street food tour in Hanoi

A popular time to meet with friends is just after work, before going home to the family. Everyone has a regular place to go and regular friends to meet. While the beer will flow in the great atmosphere it is important not to be too drunk when you go home but no one can swear that that is the case. Traditions die hard in Vietnam and it is difficult to imagine, even as people have more money and can afford better surroundings, that they will abandon their draught beer on the sidewalk. When you are in Hanoi, go along and have a beer.

A night out in Hanoi is not complete without making your way to a roadside beer joint, where you can enjoy Vietnamese beer at a fraction of you’d pay back home. A must-visit for any first-time visitor to Hanoi, Bia Hoi Junction is widely-regarded as the quintessential nightlife spot in Hanoi. Open throughout the day and late into the night, the ever-bustling beer haven is located at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter, where you can see hundreds of people sitting on plastic stools with a pint of bia hoi in hand. Available at numerous makeshift bars within Bi a Hoi Junction, bia hoi is a type of Vietnamese draft beer that only contains about 4% alcohol. Although it’s weak compared to European standards, bia hoi is incredibly cheap where you can enjoy a tall glass between VND 10,000 and VND 20,000.

Needless to say, Bia Hoi Junction attracts a steady following of locals, expats and tourists looking to down some ice cold beers all night long. In addition to numerous bia hoi joints with colourful plastic chairs spilling onto the streets, you can also find makeshift stalls selling a variety of snacks such as steamed peanuts, fried tofu, skewered meats, and delicious beef jerky.

As it can get very packed here, do keep your wits about and be mindful of your belongings. Nonetheless, Bia Hoi Junction is great for drinking on a budget as well as experiencing the local culture. The carnival atmosphere is a really memorable snapshot of Hanoi nightlife.

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