For most adults and even some teenagers, our years of game playing are long behind us. Lock ourselves in a room and pretend to be murder mystery detectives for an hour? Probably not our first idea of a good time. But that’s the magic of escape rooms — they’re more than just real-life games; they’re time machines that can bring even the most serious adults back to childhood.
Escape rooms are themed rooms outfitted with riddles and locks that need to be solved and opened to beat the game. For one hour, a group of friends uses the hints and clues provided to unlock multiple doors that ultimately lead to the final escape door. A good escape room is one that makes you believe you’re actually catching the Mafia or fleeing a haunted Egyptian tomb. You should be sweating and yelling by the end.
The concept, which originated in Japan in 2007, has since spread worldwide. While escape rooms are not a chain business, some variation of the idea can be found in most large cities. In Hanoi, there are about five locations to choose from.
We Escape has locations in Ba Dinh and Dong Da. At each location, players choose between three different rooms ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. At the Ba Dinh location, players’ options are the easiest room, The Lost Tomb, the medium-level room, Escape Prison, and the hardest room, the Joke of the Spirit. At Dong Da, players can choose from the easiest room, Thieves of the Century, or two other medium-level rooms, which are Tomb Raider themed and Apocalypse themed.
We tried the Apocalypse room, but we were not successful. The combined brainpower of three educated adults was apparently no match for We Escape’s medium-level escape room. The space is impressively decorated to look like a hunting cabin/makeshift graveyard post-zombie invasion. Creepy haunted house music sets the mood, and to be honest, it’s actually scary — not for little kids who get spooked easily. The room is also very spacious, which makes it good for larger groups.
The room is separated into four smaller rooms that each need to be unlocked to eventually reach the final door. As you get closer to the end, the clues increase in complexity. Despite using our two free hints, we still couldn’t make it to the final room. The clues were especially intricate and out of the ordinary, forcing us to work together and use unexpected skills like our aim and our elementary understanding of physics. Especially when time was running low, there was a lot of panicky shouting of possible number and letter codes.
Monday through Friday, a group of eight costs VND99,000 per person, a group of five to seven costs VND109,000 each, and a group of two to four costs VND139,000 each. At the weekend, the prices increase to VND119,000 for a group of eight, VND129,000 for a group of five to seven, and VND159,000 for a group of two to four.
Located on Floor 3 of 168 Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and Floor 8 of the Kham Thien Building, 195 Kham Thien, Dong Da, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am to 11pm. Call 0962 262205 or (024) 3724 7561 for more information
Trap Vietnam — Real Escape Room
At Trap Vietnam — Real Escape Room, players can choose between the easier Egyptian room and the harder rooms — Red Dragon Taken or Outlast Hospital. For the Egyptian room, if you’re so inclined, you can even dress up in pharaoh costumes. We chose the Red Dragon room and again failed to unlock the final room despite the collective efforts of three adults.
The room is decorated to look like a gangster bar, and players are supposed to expose the crimes of a local mafia group. The clues in this room are very clever and incorporate intricate riddles about the Chinese zodiac and the Roman alphabet. This room is better suited to smaller groups however — three was almost company when we played.
At Trap, prices vary from VND240,000 per person for a group of two to three, VND200,000 for a group of four to five, and VND150,000 for a group of six to eight.
Located at 40 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 9.30am to 11.30pm. Call 0932 232408 for more information.
Like a Kid Again
Whether you’re escaping king Tut’s tomb, the rainy weather, or the chaotic city, these escape rooms in Hanoi are fun ways to spend an hour with friends.
For those of us who haven’t played anything in years, it will surely make you feel like a little kid again, in the best way possible.
PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA