Considered as the best nightlife spot in Hanoi, the Bia Hoi Corner is a busy and bustling junction for beer lovers. Bia Hoi, also known as 'fresh beer' is popular among tourists and locals in Hanoi because of it's low alcohol quantity and affordable prices. The corner is famous for the many makeshift stalls and small pubs that serve chilled beers and some delicious Vietnamese food.
Bia Hoi is a light draft beer, and a signature of Vietnam today, although it came into existence after the French departed the country in 1954, leaving behind the Hommel brewery. The Vietnamese rechristened it as the Hanoi Brewery, watered down the brew and began selling the fresh, chilled, straw-coloured light beer that boasts of only 4% alcohol. Reckoned to be dirt cheap at VND 5000 to VND 8000 per glass by the backpackers and European tourists, the drink has come to epitomize the life and culture of the young and old alike across the country.
The beer drinking population is seen spilling out into the street as the evening progresses with the colourful plastic stools and recycled glass tumblers becoming more and more apparent. The tourists, expatriates and the local populace all enjoy the delightful draft beer that delivers a mild kick without actually intoxicating the consumer. The popularity of this inexpensive drink has to be seen to be believed. It is an apt location for carrying out animated conversations on just about everything under the sun with no fear of eavesdropping.
A visitor to Hanoi does not have to search in earnest for the ubiquitous Bia Hoi corner either. The neon-lit shops indicate the way to the corners where there is a profusion of red, blue and green plastic stools spilling out of the pavement into the streets. The occupants are seen holding their glasses aloft amidst boisterous cheering. The patrons think nothing of ordering a glass of Bia Hoi for newly met strangers either, given its price. The beer is gulped thirstily while nibbling on packets of rice crackers, roasted peanuts and crispy pumpkin seeds that the waiters slip onto the temporary tables created by placing a couple of stools together.
The drinking hole or holes (there are 200 of such corners prevalent all over the city) happens to be a melting pot of cultures where the boundaries of wealth, societal status and nationality disappears after a round or two of delicious Bia Hoi. It would indeed be a shame to miss this exciting trend while on a trip of Hanoi.
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