Amidst the stresses of Tet, it is easy to forget that today is Valentine’s Day, a time of year when lovers frantically scour the city, looking for the most alluring experience for their partners. The romantic holiday is doubly stressful for young Vietnamese couples, who are expected to introduce their prospective partners to their families. No matter the culture, couples tend to spend an exorbitant amount on Valentine’s Day. For example, the average American spends 142 U.S. dollars on presents! The things we do for love, eh?
If you find yourself frantically looking for romantic date ideas but don’t have much cash, don’t worry. The enchanting city of Hanoi has plenty of enticing options for anyone’s budget. Here is a list of a few great options, ranging from cost-free to fancier affairs.
- Stargazing on Long Bien bridge
- The Long Bien bridge is the local’s favorite dating spots in Hanoi. Not only is it romantic, taking your partner to this historical bridge has been an age-old tradition through generations. Couples tend to ride their motorbike upon the bridge, park at one of those spots where the road bends out, and enjoy each other’s company after a long day. Here, you get an unobstructed view of the skyline and the perfect spot to stargaze. Long Bien bridge also offers an immaculate sunrise and sunset experience. There are also street vendors that sell corn and potatoes for those that wish to dine under starlight.
- Gallery-hopping is the perfect activity in Hanoi as most of the galleries are free to enter. What is a better way to show your partner how cultured you are while saving money? This is also a great way to get to know somebody through deep, passionate conversations.
- One treasured Hanoian art gallery is the Manzi Exhibition Space, located on Hang Bun Street. There are new exhibitions every one to two months with unique themes. The spare and relaxed cafe also serves coffee and tea, a perfect place to chat with your lover about your favorite artwork.
- Another is the Cyril Kongo Gallery, a fresh face in the Hanoi art scene. Newly opened last September, the gallery became a popular spot for Instagram photos and check-ins. The place houses eccentric graffiti pieces, much different from the other galleries. Here, couples love to snap pictures in front of the photogenic gallery-front.
- Walk the weekend pedestrian streets
- Hoan Kiem Lake pedestrian street has always been a favorite upbeat weekend date as there are so many options to the things you can do at and around the area. The streets are packed with visitors, performers, artists, vendors, and even large events like a concert. Couples may begin the night with a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant like Fu Rong Hua, grab dessert at Trang Tien Ice Cream Joint, walk off the calories while pondering at Hanoi by night, then end the night with a cocktail at Polite & Co. or The Attic.
- For those who would rather not leave Tay Ho, check out the Trinh Cong Son pedestrian street. Named after the famed Vietnamese musician, singing is heard there almost every evening. While the walk is long as Hoan Kiem, the views are no less picturesque. The road parallel to the large ferris wheel is a quiet “lover’s lane,” perfect for late-night walks. Afterwards, head to L’Apéro for some delicious wine to enhance the evening.
- Have an adventure on Trầm mountain
- Some refer to Tram mountain as a “miniature Ha Giang” right in the suburbs of Hanoi. Tram Mountain resides about 30 km from the city center. One can easily visit on a motorbike or a car. The area possesses the wild and majestic beauty of nature. It is incredible to believe you are just a stone’s throw from Hanoi city center.
- Tram Mountain is a perfect getaway for adventurous couples. You can hike along the spiraling trails and admire the charming grassland. The fresh atmosphere and the poetic scenery will leave you in awe. To spice up the experience, you can even bring some things for a picnic or tents for some camping time. The scenic and relaxing experience will definitely make this a memorable date.
- Stepping away from both Vietnamese and Western cuisine, our suggestion for a fair-price restaurant is a lovely ramen spot called Moto-san Uber Noodle. Located on Ly Dao Thanh street, right next to the Opera House, Moto-san offers a wide range of ramen and beer. The place is tiny, houses only about 20 seats. The bar-seat overhangs the sidewalk, lit up with aesthetic laterns sure will give you the cool-but-romantic atmosphere.
- Admire the city lights on Summit Lounge
- Out of every rooftop bar in Hanoi, the Summit Lounge at Pan Pacific Hotel stands out. The place is cozy, with a minimal outdoor sitting area, and the most gorgeous view of Hanoi from above. As the bar itself is not too high up like Lotte’s Top of Hanoi, guests get the perfect view of the stillness of Truc Bach and West Lake, as well as the bustling vehicles commuting through the beautiful Thanh Nien road.
- Summit Lounge offers a wide range of alcoholic and nonalcoholic options as well as desserts. This is a lovely spot to just chill and spend a cozy time.
- Indulge in romantic jazz at Binh Minh Jazz Club
- You can’t go wrong with jazz and a glass of wine. Bình Minh Jazz Club is a cozy bar tucked behind the Hanoi Opera House. The bar was founded by Vietnam’s renowned saxophonist – Quyen Van Minh. Every night from 9 p.m. onward, live jazz is played by one of the bar’s residential bands. On every occasion that Chào visits, there was a different singer so the music was not repetitive at all. If you’re lucky, Quyen Van Minh will treat his guests with a performance himself. Guests can indulge in the lovely music while enjoying a drink.
- Binh Minh is the perfect spot for these chilly winter nights. The dim-lit, jazz-filled room is the most romantic place a couple can enjoy. Whispered conversations are fine but loud laughter is not encouraged. The bar offers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options; though, the price may be higher due to the live jazz included.
Whatever you end up doing for Valentine’s Day, Hanoi offers plenty of romantic venues and vistas for you and your loved one to enjoy. As the Tet holiday coincides with Feb. 14., hopefully, the love you celebrate lasts all year or even longer. Now, go steal a kiss under the moonlight.