Hanoi’s Ice Cream Motorbike Drive-In

By Mark Wiens 15 Comments

Kem Tràng Tiền – Hanoi, Vietnam

When I heard about a famous place to eat local style, truly Hanoian ice cream, I couldn’t have been more excited…and I had no idea how cool it was going to turn out…

My excitement elevated and I knew we were getting close when we saw crowds of Vietnamese chomping on green ice cream bars and neatly balled ice cream cones while slowly lingering down the street.

Ice cream drive in

Kem Tràng Tiền is nothing fancy but everything about it is extraordinary, feeling much more like an auto mechanic than you neighborhood Baskin and Robbins.  Though it looked like everyone was fixing their motorbikes, on closer inspection I realized that everyone was sitting aboard their motorcycles, slowly chitchatting, waiting for another round of the treat that was making everyone so happy.

It was like a Vietnamese Sonic Drive-In of enthusiastic ice cream eaters, only with motorcycles instead of SUV’s.

Kem Tràng Tiền

Even ordering your ice cream was comparable to ordering an auto part over a counter where the service attendant goes back into the warehouse to retrieve it.  Likewise, ice cream cones and bars were flying out of the warehouse freezers and into the hands of waiting customers over the counter.

In the ice cream warehouse, 2 of the counters were fully dedicated to ice cream bars and ready made ice cream cones, while 1 counter was reserved for the lovers of soft serve…we went to all 3.

Ice Cream Cone at Kem Tràng Tiền

The coconut ice cream cone costing 7,000 Dong ($0.36), was my favorite of the bunch.  A smooth blend of coconut, just the right amount of sweet, and a little on the icy side.

Look at that chunk of ice cream

The green bar cost 6,000 Dong ($0.30) and was extra creamy with a slight buttery taste.

Motorcycles came and went, turning off their engines before entering the enclosed region to save the ice cream eating guests from suffocation.  When everyone had had their ice cream high, the entire family would roll out on the motorbike, licking their lips with satisfaction.

Ice cream motorbike drive in.

The ice cream itself was not of gourmet quality.  It was good, it was cool and refreshing, it was super cheap, the ambiance was exciting, and it was the first ice cream  parlor that could embarrassingly be mistaken for a motorcycle mechanic shop.  The great thing about Kem Tràng Tiền is that for the price, it was absolutely delicious, and it’s feasible to order every different kind of ice cream and only set you back about $2.

Bars cost from 5,000 – 7,000 ($0.26 – $0.36)), soft serve runs 6,000 ($0.30), and ready-made cones cost 7,000 ($0.36)

Getting There

Kem Tràng Tiền is located on the corner of H. Khay Trang Tien and Ngo Quyen in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, just a hundred meters from the Southern point of Hoan Kiem Lake.  If you don’t see the sign, you will surely see the crowds loitering around the street or sitting on their motorcycles, all eating ice cream.

If you go to Hanoi, you can NOT miss this ice cream motorbike drive-in!

15 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Ross The Explorer

    7 years ago

    I recently tried coconut ice cream in Hanoi and am now on the hunt for more crazy ice cream in this city, do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you

  • Bich Pham

    10 years ago

    Oh, yeah, nice to read a very interesting article about Hanoi ice-cream. So funny with your idea “it was the first ice cream parlor that could embarrassingly be mistaken for a motorcycle mechanic shop”. Hahaha. I also love the green bar (it is “young rice” flavor in in fact) which is very delicious. Thanks so much, Mark, for your visit to my country and love our food. Wishing you a lot of health & success!

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hi Bich, great to hear from you, thank you for reading. Are you from Hanoi?

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Corrine: For sure, the ice cream is sure affordable and makes for an awesome time!

    @Daene: I’m sure it will be waiting when you get back!…or maybe you can open one in the Philippines!

    @Natalie: Yes, even if you are not in love with ice cream, this is a super entertaining place to be!

  • Natalie – Turkish Travel Blog.

    14 years ago

    I am not normally a lover of Icecream but it looks delicious and a fun place to be. Perhaps the Turks should take a lesson from them in Icecream making. lOL

  • Daene

    14 years ago

    Amazing find! Wish I had known about this place when I went to Hanoi. 🙂

  • Corinne @ Gourmantic

    14 years ago

    What a fun concept, and at 30 cents, no wonder it’s so popular!

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Jen: Haha, yes, seems like maybe everyone in Hanoi has their mind on ice cream when they are driving, trying to get there as fast as possible! Thanks, have a great weekend too!

    @Earl: Absolutely correct. I was so entertained by the ambiance that the ice cream itself wasn’t quite as important as usual!

  • Earl

    14 years ago

    Never made it to Hanoi but that place looks awesome. I’m a bit picky with my ice cream but I’d imagine the uniqueness of that place would make up for any lack of quality with the ice cream itself!

  • Jen Laceda

    14 years ago

    I miss Hanoi >>> and all the motorbikes that are out there to kill yah! Haha, death by motorbike and ice cream? Not bad… Have a great weekend, Mark!