Gay and gay-friendly clubs

A round up of where to head

What we say: 3.5 stars

The gay scene in Hanoi remains more underground than some other countries in the region, such as Thailand or even Cambodia, but things are slowly changing and gay clubs are going slightly more mainstream these days.

The gay scene is to your right.

The gay scene is to your right.

The best known gay bar, on the tourist scene at least, is GC Bar. The GC is centrally located on Ngo Bao Khanh, near Hoan Kiem Lake, and along a road full of bars. It’s an SLSA — straight-looking, straight-acting — bar, with no dance floor but a pool table at its centrepiece, good music, cold beer and a relaxed vibe. It’s at its most lively after 21:00 or 22:00, when a local DJ plays. Mostly frequented by Vietnamese, you’ll also find Western expats and tourists here as well taking advantage of free entry and affordable drinks.

If you prefer dancing to pool, then Aqua is the place to be. It’s located on Kim Ma, a few kilometres away from Old Quarter, and is an upmarket “Glitz and Glam” or “Glam and Fem” club, frequented mainly by younger, affluent Vietnamese men. It gets going around 22:30 and then closes at 00:00 — but for that hour and a half, the dance floor is wild. “It has a small but great dance floor which is rare to see in Vietnam,” one of my pals who heads there regularly told me.

While these are the two main gay bar/clubs in town, a few other gay-friendly joints are dotted around. One More Time is a tiny bar on Hang Vai Street — it’s not gay-run but is welcoming and a good spot to chill out with good music, good friends and good food. Mao’s is a more well-known place, on Ta Hien: it’s a bar, rather than a club, but gets busy late evening and into the early hours, or until the fun police show.

The infamous Solace nightclub is known as being another gay-friendly place, and though I haven’t been to this boat docked on the Red River, I’ve heard it’s for hectic party goers and also that it’s, well, terrible. So not sure I’m exactly recommending this one!

Another party place popular with the gay scene, and featuring male and female exotic dancers and a lively atmosphere, is located on the corner of Phuong Hung and Bat Dan — its name changes frequently. You can’t miss it: look out for the bright lights and glitz. Although worth a visit, it’s pricey — expect to pay 70,000 VND for a beer and 3.9 million VND for a bottle of whiskey (the drink of choice of many guests).

Of course, as well as bars and clubs there are also steam rooms, the most popular being Spa Adam.

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5 Bao Khanh Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
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