My story will be specifically about Halong Bay, this is the place where I have had my only Vietnamese drinking experience. My friends have informed me that you can get the same treatment in pretty much all of Asia. What compensation for their traffic and toilets.
Stay in the right hostels, we were lucky to choose the Party Hostel (because it appeared to be the cheapest) without even knowing some benefits that it’s guests have. I’m talking about FREE BEER from 8 p.m. til 9 p.m. Turns out, it’s quite a common practice in Vietnam. Until the happy hour we didn’t really believe in this free beer rumour and felt quite shy paving our way to the first glass.
By 9 p.m. I was already feeling a bit dizzy after 3 glasses that we drunk way too fast. Usually a hostel restricts the number of glasses (in my case it was 4), but you can always ask your friend to get you one – or get one for your friend, nobody really keeps count. So, if you manage to drink all of your 4 glasses (or more) within this hour send someone else to the bar.
A free-drinking-Queen hint: we usually asked our non-drinking friends to get a beer for us, in order to have a spare glass, that we would fill in right before 9 p.m. So, by the time when Cinderella’s clock stopped ticking – we had a table of full glasses. After the hour was up we took our time and enjoyed every sip.
If you are lucky, Party Hostels usually let you listen to music until a few of the guests desire to go to sleep. We literally had a club in our hostel, we danced and played games for a few hours after the end of our beer session. Soon the hostel lobby became to small for us and we made our way out along the Vietnamese roads to the clubs, saying ‘Hello’ to everyone we met on the way.
A take-a-party-with-you-Queen hint: have a pack of cards in your bag and a list of cool songs in your head (the hostel or even club (!) will play your favourite songs). There were only 2 clubs in Bai Chay, so we didn’t have much choice on where to spend the night. Late evening, to be exact.
The Vietnamese start clubbing at 9 p.m. and finish at midnight or 1 a.m! Have I already mentioned that there are only two night-clubs in Bai Chay? Oh, and they’re situated in one building. We spent the night in the Amazon club. As soon as we entered – a serious looking Asian came up to our group with a bottle of Chivas Regal. It is considered offensive in Asia to reject such friendly geistures, so we couldn’t stop our alcohol sprint until the bottle was empty. Should I even bother saying that we got plaaaaaastered.
The Coyote-Ugly-Girl hint: I physically wouldn’t have been able to finish that bottle of whiskey, but I was a bit scared to reject my new friend’s hospitality, I used my free bottle of beer. No, not to drink after the whiskey…but to secretly spit it out.
The club’s closing time is 1 a.m. The staff really did close the windows and doors, the DJ left his set but our party continued. The owner never stopped offering us free beer, while our expanded tourist group performed crazy white people dancing under the flashlights of the Vietnamese cameras. Floor: at 3 a.m. I was in my hostel bed safe and sound. Mainly, because everything in Bai Chay is a minute-walk away. Now, what a night!
And what a master hangover! Guys, as we’re talking about drinking in Vietnam today, I have to mention Vietnamese coffee! Now that is something you should spend your money on! Cà phê Ch?n – a northern Vietnamese version of Kopi Luwak (the Wikipedia page is in Vietnamese so be sure to google it, if you don’t understand what I’m talking about) is amaaaaazing! A cup is worth nearly a dollar, but you can always buy your own pack of coffee for the same price to cook it at home. For all the coffee lovers out there – this thing is a must! Though I must specify that cà phê Ch?n is only good in Northern Vietnam.