A nighttime stroll through Hanoi’s Old Quarter is abound with motorbikes whizzing in all directions, an orchestra of honking horns, the smells of simmering street food, lights of all shapes, sizes and colors, and the feeling of being enshrouded in a grand mystery.
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The more and more this mystery presents itself, the more and more it seems to act as the foundation upon which Hanoi stands strong—a city where the surprising is all but unsurprising. And thus, while Hanoi may be a long way from New Orleans, it comes as no shock that hidden somewhere between the motorbike chaos and bowls of steaming pho, Hanoi has an established jazz scene of its own—a scene that calls home to the Binh Minh Jazz Club.
Just a stone’s throw from the chaos of the Old Quarter, the Binh Minh Jazz Club is tucked away in a small side street next to the Hanoi Opera House and is home to live jazz 7 nights a week, always starting at 9pm.
The usual crowd brings together a mix of local jazz enthusiasts, travelers that have caught word, and unassuming jazz musicians. As the music plays on, the noise from the crowd properly alternates between blended conversations and the respect of silence and shouts for the deserving solo. The club is blanketed with dim lighting that is counterbalanced with just the right amount of neon jazz signs, if there ever were such an amount. And as the night progresses, more and more smoke dances through the air, following the wander of the sax solo, or not.
There is no cover charge at the Binh Minh Jazz Club; although, the cost of drinks is a bit more expensive than average for Hanoi. This means paying about $3 USD for a beer, $5 USD for a cocktail, or a bit over $20 USD for a bottle of wine. Not too shabby for a full night of live music at Hanoi’s finest jazz club.
Photos: Taylor Winchell
Where’s your favorite place to hang out in Hanoi? Share with us in the comments.