Ho Guom Plaza (Shark Jaws)

Also known as “Shark Jaws”, Ho Guom Plaza is a six-storey landmark that sticks out from the southern edge of the old quarter. The plaza affords great views of Hoan Kiem Lake and the extremely busy (and loosely organised) road junction immediately below.

ho guom plaza

With the exception of Aldo Shoe Shop on the ground floor, the plaza is occupied by a mix of generally lacklustre dining and drinking options that are really only worth seeking out for the views. Prices are much higher than what you’ll pay at a regular street cafe with similar (or better) quality, but the views are pretty fantastic. If you don’t care about views and have a hankering for an expensive German draft beer, Legend Beer on the ground floor will be happy to oblige.

The second floor is home to two cafes — a Highlands Coffee, which is a chain that offers decent coffee and tea and small plates of food to go with comfy seats overlooking the lake; and Hanoi Soul Cafe, which offers a better drink and food selection with similar views, if you can snag one of the coveted tables along the sides of the balcony that is.

The third floor is home to a decent but pricey Korean hotpot restaurant called Mi Han Quoc and a Japanese restaurant that we’ve yet to try. Above that, the fifth and sixth floors are occupied by City View Cafe, which boasts stunning views to go with indifferent service and average drinks/food for high prices. Yet the best of the bunch is Avalon, a Vietnamese-Western restaurant that’s accessed via a different entrance on Cau Go opposite Dinh Liet Street and offers a rooftop terrace with fantastic views of both the lake and the old quarter.

How to get there: The entrance to the other upper floor haunts is at 5 Dinh Tien Hoang, next to the entrance to the Tourist Information Centre which is on the ground floor, and is initially up a grotty staircase. You can then take the lift or continue up the stairs the rest of the way.