Appreciating West Lake shouldn’t be too hard- all you need is smooth tunes, tiny chairs, and a plastic plate of sunflower seeds. Nhac Xua proves this unquestionably.

You may have already driven past this Hideaway, your attention momentarily drawn towards the warm lighting and crisp music emanating from within, before your senses return sensibly to the road and that oversized SUV hurtling towards you. Next time- stop, even if its just for a few minutes, as this tiny corner of calm is what West Lake is all about.

Nhạc Xưa translates simply as ‘old music’ and that is exactly what you get, with a vast selection of songs from both Vietnam and abroad. Proud proprietor and war veteran Mr. Binh (pictured above) never planned on opening a cafe- his passion was for music, or rather the machines that facilitated music. After the war was won he returned back to Hanoi and opened a small repair shop, where he could also cultivate a collection of speakers and record players.

It was an afterthought to put some chairs out on the pavement and invite people to sit down for a drink, and thus a very limited selection of traditional drinks (coffee, lemon juice, iced tea, and the like) are all satisfactory.

If you like to have something to look at then you’ll be spoilt for choice. Peer inside at Mr. Binh’s rotating collection of speakers, gaze across West Lake at Hanoi’s modern other, or watch the balancing fisherman to see if they get lucky. And if you know someone that claims Hanoi has lost its charm, invite them to Cafe Nhac Xua to shut them up once and for all.

Address: 46 Yen Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi

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