Artistic, organic, changing yet traditional, Hanoi is one of Vietnam’s most atmospheric cities. To explore the city’s art scene takes some effort and a little insider knowledge, but the rewards are worth it. Here’s your guide to the well-lit corridors and well-kept secrets where art thrives in the Vietnamese capital.
Hanoi street art
The best things in life sometimes are free, especially in the case of this fabulous street art in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Optimistic murals depicting life in Vietnam line the old masonry, making it seem as though the past is walking with the present. Not only is this street endlessly Instagrammable, but you may find games and shows held here as well.
You can’t miss this enormous mural when driving through Hanoi. Created for the millennial anniversary of Hanoi’s founding in 2010, the ceramic mosaic was declared the longest in the world by the Guiness Book of World Records. Stretching over six kilometres, the mosaic features a mix of themes in one long piece of outdoor art.
Into Thin Air is a public art project curated by Manzi Art Space. Ten virtual artworks — soundwalks, virtual installations and video arts — exist permanently in 10 key public sites around Hanoi. You’ll need to download the app and wear your headphones to be able to view and interact with each piece.
TIP: Tucked away from the lively Hanoi streets, Tadioto is a favourite watering hole of in-the-know locals and expats, run by the artist and commentator Mr. Duc.
Fine art museums
Once a Catholic boarding school for girls, the building now houses the country’s finest collection of early-modern paintings. These works from the 19th century to the present reveal fascinating meditations on themes of nationalism, foreign occupation, martyrdom, war and colonisation and the emergence of a national artistic identity.
This modern museum celebrates the history of women in Vietnam, with showcases of traditional garments, sculptures, paintings, artwork, wood carvings and lacquer. Just above the museum you’ll find MAM Art Collection, a small venue curated by CUC Gallery. This hidden gem is an absolute must-see for art enthusiasts when in Hanoi.
Apart from its beautiful architecture, this building boasts a fantastic collection of antique art. The national museum is a place where art, craftsmanship, and history intersect. Stroll the quiet corridors to encounter wood carvings from the 4th century, Champa statues, exquisite engravings from the 19th century, and more.
TIP: Don’t miss the chance to watch a cultural show by Lune Bamboo Circus, staged at the Hanoi Opera House.
Contemporary art spaces and galleries
This gallery sits cozily inside a luminous French Villa. Tall windows and high ceilings create bright and fresh interiors, perfect for viewing the delicate pieces of contemporary Vietnamese art on display, or just cosying up with coffee and a book. Manzi regularly hosts workshops and exhibits with top Vietnamese artists.
For everything modern art in Hanoi, head to Six Space on Tran Hung Dao st. Run by a group of young artists from a wide variety of disciplines from painting to filmmaking, Six Space’s youthful energy, ambition and fluidity will inspire you. There’s always an interesting exchange of ideas here, as well as stunning art.
If you’re interested in experimental art, Á Space specialises in showcasing unique, contemporary pieces. A sanctuary for young emerging artists, this gallery likes to push the envelope. There’s a little something for all art enthusiasts here, including films, paintings, music, installations and more.
TIP: The Dao Khanh Gallery and Treehouse is a quirky place to stay, set on the outskirts of Hanoi, and run by the flamboyant cop-turned-artist Dao Khanh.
Artsy souvenirs and mementos
Just a stone’s throw from the St Joseph’s Cathedral, Collective Memory is a gem of a shop set on Nha Chung st. On the shelves you’ll find an assortment of kitschy paraphernalia, beautiful ceramics, limited edition art prints from established and emerging artists, edible goodies and delightful collectibles. Stop by to find that special print or piece to bring home from your trip to Hanoi.
Zó Project has its shop just on the edge of the tracks on Hanoi’s charming train street. Sign up for one of their art workshops, or just browse the shelves for unique stationery created using an ancient paper-making technique. Zó works with artisans from paper villages near Hanoi to create gorgeous posters, calendars, and notebooks.
Please share and like if you like “Hanoi for art lovers”