The Creative's Guide to Hanoi

Who says Hanoi is boring? Donna Bramhall certainly doesn’t. Just to make sure, here is her guide to all those things that are making Hanoi into an increasingly creative city. Photos by Teresa Welleans


Between the nine-to-five mayhem of motorbikes and nights on the town, how often do you find time to explore your own creative aspirations and interests in Hanoi? And even if you wanted to, where would you go to find it?


Sometimes it’s hard to keep up to date with all the activities the capital has to offer. Yes, there are the few steadfast, home-bred, artistic institutions we all know and love, but what about the others? Who are the emerging groups? Where are the secret studios? And how do you find a community crafters?


Here’s a short guide to a substantial array of creative spaces and activities you can try in 2016 to inspire the artisan inside.



Creative Classes: Things to Learn



Glass Painting with Xuong Lo Mo

( at Cafe Lomo, Sundays at 92B Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem, VND100,000 to VND300,000.

Join part-time artist Hong Ly every weekend in her sparkling studio at Cafe Lomo. You can paint a variety of pretty patterns on anything made out of glass, from champagne flutes to window panes. Prices include all materials.


Life Drawing with Life Drawing Session

(, Thursdays 7.30pm to 9pm, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho. VND150,000 per class.


An affordable and fun way to explore and expand your drawing skills in a friendly and relaxed environment. Sessions are not taught but self-directed with guidance, and come with a complimentary glass of wine to get the creative juices flowing.


Writing with the Hanoi Writer’s Collective

(E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), every other Sunday 6pm to 8pm, at Joma, 38 Lieu Giai, Dong Da.


Are you the next Shakespeare in the making? All types of writing styles and levels are welcome at this informal get-together. Organiser Mary Croy is currently looking to expand the group into a supportive and inspiring literary community.


Travel Photography with Hanoi Photography Tour, Daily at 9am and 2pm. US$35 per person.

Book at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or


Want to learn how to capture the cultural landmarks of Hanoi? On this tour you can either create your own itinerary, or follow the expert guides to the city’s most interesting sites. All tours are led by accomplished amateur photographers, to help you get the best pictures possible.


Personal Photography with Shots from the Guts

(, monthly workshops available starting from March 2016. Cost: VND1.5 million


Photojournalist Nikolaj Svennevig’s weekend-long personal photography project is designed to push the boundaries of your visual story-telling techniques. No expensive cameras necessary as the emphasis is placed on exploring artistic expression not the equipment.


Circus Skills with Hanoi Circus Community, Every Sunday and Thursday, 6pm to 9pm, Vuon Hoa Quang Ba Park, Tay Ho.

Facebook: Hanoi Circus Community


Fancy yourself as the next member of the Cirque de Soleil? Then cartwheel down to the free circus community meet-ups, and skills swap with fellow hoopers, acro yogis, fire spinners, and jiu-jitsu beginners.



Craft Classes with Timeclub

(, various times and dates.


From Stitch’N’Bitch sessions, to doll making and bottle painting, the Timeclub organisers host regular crafty events for all ages at different venues across Hanoi.


Paper Making with Zo Project

(, various dates, So 5, ngo 50/59 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho


Promoting the preservation of traditional Vietnamese handmade paper. Zo holds different creative paper-based projects such as bookbinding, origami lessons and screen printing.


Creative Collaborations at Work Room Four

(, 10am to 6pm, Packexim Building Tower 1, 24th Floor, No. 49, Lane 15, An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho.


Exhibitions, installations, screen printing, film making. The eclectic collective at Work Room Four know no limitations when facilitating a creative environment for their collaborators to experiment in. Get an idea, then get in touch.



Fashion and Textiles at London College for Design and Fashion

(, 6.30pm to 9.30pm, 98, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Offers one to two short courses every term, running two evenings per week for six weeks.


Dying to reveal your inner fashionista? This renowned fashion college holds bi-monthly workshops on textiles, styling and pattern cutting, all taught by English-speaking international lecturers, assisted by Vietnamese translators.


Holistic Wellbeing at Zenith Yoga Vietnam

( Various dates and times, 247B Au Co, Tay Ho and 62 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem.


Trying to find your inner peace in heaving Hanoi can be a challenge at times. Zenith is a long-established oasis for holding a variety of spiritual and conscious living workshops in the city.


Fun Fitness with Motion

( See timetable. 42/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho.


Shake your booty like Beyoncé at this new fun fitness centre promoting alternate exercise classes like ballet fit, pole dance and partner yoga. They also run alternative workshops on energy healing and meditation.


Moving Image with Hanoi Doclab

(, various Dates. 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh.


The major hub for emerging moviemakers and digital media artists in Hanoi, Doclab is a haven for film resources, and provides frequent classes and talks with industry professionals on sound, lighting, writing and editing throughout the year.



Contemporary and Experimental Dance with Kinergie Studio

(, 5.30pm to 11pm, Level 7, 101A Nguyen Khuyen, Dong Da


Launched in late 2015, this young and inspiring Vietnamese contemporary dance studio has both timetabled classes and periodic injections of alternative lessons. Classic, avant-garde, experimental and improvised dance techniques are delivered by French-speaking Vietnamese and the occasional visiting international lecturer.


Improv Acting with The Rotten Grapes

(, Wednesdays 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Lassi cafe, 2 Tran Dai Nghia, Hai Ba Trung.


Let your inhibitions go and enjoy living in the moment with this improvised acting and comedy community. Classes focus on the art of storytelling, character building and confidence boosting drama techniques. All levels welcome.


Applied Arts and Fashion at Lucy’s Dream Applied Art Education Centre

(, 2nd & 3rd floor, 20 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Classes start from US$5.


Fashion brand Lucy’s Dream offers monthly education programs and drop-in classes for aspiring artists and designers out there. Teaching everything from sewing for beginners, photo manipulation, fashion illustration and realism painting.


Art History with Sophie’s Art Tour

(, Monday to Saturday, 9am to 1pm, various venues, US$55 per person.


Discover the history of Vietnam’s struggle for independence and identity told by the hands and hearts of its artists. Sophie’s Art Tour Hanoi explores both the international impressions left on Vietnam after many gruesome wars, and the evolving new generation of contemporary artists in Hanoi today.






Open Mic at Hanoi Rock City, Wednesday, 9pm to late, 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho.


Turn up, write your name on the board then strut your stuff on the stage when your turn comes. With a welcoming and regular crowd all you have to do is remember your lines.


A Night of Clutter, various venues and dates, 8pm onwards.

Click on for details.


No musical training required, if you can hit and drum you are welcome to join in the fun. Making music with a mixture of improvised and professional instruments, ‘A Night of Clutter’ is a non-stop, inclusive, experimental, live music experience.


Hanoi Slam, various dates and venues, VND100,000 (free for storytellers).

Go to for info


Amateur and professional storytellers, poets, writers and musicians are invited to share their interpretations of a ‘Slams’ theme before a live audience. All proceeds from this regular charity event support the Humanitarian Services for the Children of Vietnam.



Free Thoughts Arts Variety Show, Doors Cafe, 11 Hang Chinh, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, 9pm to late. Admission Free.


Local and travelling free spirits collide together in creative harmony at this multidisciplinary night of live painting, performance artists, poets, musicians and comedians.


Raw Collective Arts, various venues and dates.

Check for details.


New to the Hanoi arts scene, RAW promotes a new generation of local and foreign artists. Monthly events mix together different techniques and approaches towards art and music. Emphasis is placed on creating attractions for the audience to see live, such as street art, performance installations and projections.


Gingerwork, various venues and dates.

Click on for their events.


Arts, crafts and costume enthusiasts, come one, come all. Gingerwork is the most renowned and consistent promoter for holding visually dynamic parties in town. Fire shows, street theatre, projection arts and fancy dress, every event is passionately designed to transport you to a world of fantasy for the night.



Creative Cafes & Bars



CAMA ATK, open nightly, 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung,


The home of the people behind CAMA, the team who were first to bring alternative live music to Hanoi, from Queer Disco to underground DJs and up-and-coming bands on the international circuit, this funky space is a hub of all things artistic and, naturally, creative cocktails as well.


Fuku leather Handmade, open daily, 9am to 10pm, 107 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem,


Slip down the slender alley to find part-café, part-studio space Fuku. Watch leather artisan Manh Ha handcraft wallets, bags and other leather accessories before your eyes among the vintage American-inspired ambiance.


Hanoi Social Club, open daily, 8am to 11pm, 6 Ngo Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem


A must for any travel-loving, beatnik creative in Hanoi, the social club has been a long-time favourite for holding alternative workshops, weekly intimate music nights and artistic assemblies.


Hanoi Cinematheque, 22 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem


Hidden down a tunnel and secluded in a courtyard, the Cinematheque is the best place in the city to watch award-winning, worldwide and independent film. Show times can only be discovered by joining the e-mail list at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by visiting the venue in person.


Hanoi Rock City, open daily, 4pm to late, 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho,


The mecca for imaginative events, HRC’s variety of colourful environments begs to be the initiating ground for new music, art and fun. Catch everything here from flea markets to fashion shows.


Tadioto, open daily, 7am to 11:30pm, 24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem,


One of the original bars for promoting alternative and contemporary arts in Hanoi, with recurring exhibitions, poetry and jazz performances, this intimate space attracts an artistic and intellectual crowd of locals and internationals.


Click Space at Spacebar Cafe, every day 8am to 10pm, Villa 15, Lane 76 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho.


Self-employed and sick of working from your kitchen table? Click Space co-working café brings Hanoi’s legion of laptop independents closer together. Hosting a wide variety of consistent entrepreneurial and tech workshops for you to get your efficient, and ambitious geek on.



Creative Spaces



Nha San Collective, Floor 15, 1 Luong Yen, Hanoi Creative City.


The birthplace of independent fine artists in Hanoi, this collective of conceptual practitioners curates exhibitions that address many controversial matters of contention in Vietnam today.


Goethe-Institut Hanoi, Mon to Friday, 9am to 5pm, 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh,


This active international institution prides itself on curating programmes that promote cultural exchange. Each month they present an interesting itinerary of artist talks, concerts, workshops and exhibitions of creative and cultural significance.


Manzi, daily 8am to 10pm, 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh,


A must-visit for any discerning modern art lover in Hanoi. This clean, classic and contemporary fine-arts café is the place to catch new exhibitions, film screenings and artist talks. Alternatively you can also splurge on their excellent collection of affordable prints, paintings and photos for sale at their art shop on the second floor.


Art Vietnam Gallery, Mon to Sat, 10am to 5pm, upstairs at 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem,


This gallery changes its exhibition every month to suit the mood of contemporary art lover and owner Suzanne Lecht, whose cheery, playful and thought-provoking personality can be seen in the collections she curates.


SixSpace ( and Blossom Art House (, 94B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0913 201389


While SixSpace is an artist-run art space, Blossom Art House holds art education courses for the general public. Has regular daily and monthly courses for kids of all ages and adults. Also puts on monthly workshops, screenings and concerts. All courses and events are in English and Vietnamese.


Chula, Open daily 8am to 7pm, 43 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho,


Spanish designers Laura Fontan and Diego Cortizas not only have the most visually stunning shop interiors imaginable, (with fabulously fun fashion collections to match) but also provide their spaces for collaboration with Hanoi’s artistic residents on an ad hoc basis.


To see more of Donna’s work, check out her website —


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