Hanoi Old Quarter of Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know
Hanoi Old Quarter: Hanoi capital is located in the North of Vietnam, and is one of the country’s best tourist attractions. The Old Town of Hanoi offers French-colonial architecture, a rich food culture and a very long history, from around the 10th Century when King Ly Thai To decided to move the Capital from Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh Province today to Dai La (old name of Hanoi) and renamed Thang Long Capital.
1. Where is Old Quarter of Hanoi Located?
Hanoi Old Quarter is located next to Hoan Kiem Lake (Returning Sword Lake), the Long Bien Bridge, and a citadel wall, and near French Quarter. Hanoi Old Quarter (formerly consisting of 36 old streets) was established at the time from around 1010 when King Ly Thai To selected Thang Long as the country’s capital, the streets have over 1,000-year old history and became crowded and more lively from 15th century.
What makes the Old Quarter unique is that many of the streets remained in their very ancient architecture of the 15th century. It has been the oldest continuously developed area of the Country.
2. What Does The Name Origin from?
Due to their long-lasting history, they are called “Haoi Old Quarter” or “36 Old Streets of Hanoi” (as consisting of 36 old streets). Ha Noi’s 36 Streets is Vietnam’s version of the guild concept. In the old day, as artisans from all over the country moved to the capital city to do business, they gathered together in the Old Quarter to share the resources. As a result, many of the streets were later named after the traditional crafts sold at that individual street. For Example: Pho Hang Bun (for Vermicelli), Pho Hang Ma (for Paper Product), Pho Hang Bac (for Silver Products), etc.
The phrase “36 Streets or 36 pho phuong in Vietnamese” often causes much confusion for most of tourists; “Phố” means a street in Vietnamese or a place for locals to gather for business, while “Phường” means “Town” or a Village of artisans specializing in a particular.
3. What to Do & Things to See in Hanoi Old Quarter?
There are plenty of things to do at Hanoi Old Quarter with a maze of small alleys where you can find every things that you never knew you need until you see them. From all kinds of local street foods, Bars/Pubs/Clubs, Restaurants, and sidewalk cafés to scared pagodas, grandeur opera houses and rustic Long Bien Bridge. You’ll walk through dozens and dozens amazed.
- Enjoy sidewalk café and drinks:
Vietnamese coffee has made a famous name for its strong tastes and fragrant smells. Come to the old quarter of Hanoi, you can find the famous Vietnamese coffee in the most amazing places – with just a plastic tool on the humble sidewalk, you can enjoy your very own Vietnamese Coffee Culture. Sidewalk cafes don’t have that kind of fancy design of a café house such as Starbucks, but it has something else – a sense of being a part of the everyday life of Hanoi.
A sidewalk coffee can be found almost everywhere in Hanoi Old Quarter. Just take a short walk from the Hoan Kiem Lake, you can find one in no time. Make enjoying sidewalk cafés a part of your nightlife tour around Hanoi and you won’t be disappointed.
- Sightseeing in Long Bien Bridge:
Long Bien Bridge is another heritage left from the days of French Colonialism. The architect that built this bridge was the very one who had constructed the symbolic Eiffel Tower.
And just like Eiffel Tower, Long Bien Bridge also become a symbol that represents a specific period of the city’s history. Its rustic, vintage beauty has made Long Bien a wonderful place for photographers. You can access the bridge from Long Bien Railway Station located on Tran Nhat Duat street.
- Hanoi Old Quarter Walking Tour:
Just get a map of Hanoi city and you are good to go on a tour around the old quarter for shopping and nightlife activities. A large number of Shops, libraries, bookstores, and art galleries are located just a street away from Hoan Kiem Lake.
Starting your walking from the fountain on Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, go deep into the network of alleys and streets, and you’ll be a part of a hectic kind of traffic only to be found in the city of Hanoi. Here and there, you might catch a glimpse of the old-styled houses – the evidence of the glorious days of the busiest, most prosperous trading area of Vietnam. Streets that are worth visiting:
- Hang Gai: Street fo silk, ready made and tailor-made clothing
- Hang Ma: traditional votive papers, decoration for the Mid-Autumn festival
- Hang Bac: stores of silverware, jewelry, and all kinds of accessory
- Hang Duong: stores of sugar, sweets and O mai (sweetened and spiced dried fruits)
- Ta Hien: sidewalk cafés, beers and street foods – literally a travel hub for all nationals
Street foods are available in both daytime and nighttime. During weekends, motorbikes and four-wheeled vehicles are prohibited in the old quarter, you can enjoy street performances quite leisurely.
- Shopping at Dong Xuan Market:
Dong Xuan Market is a place worth visiting yet at the same time it can be a challenge for tourists for Dong Xuan market is the oldest traditional local market in Hanoi. It can be said as a paradise for shopping where you can find all the things you can imagine there.
However, shopping at Dong Xuan market is only cheap for those who know how to bargain. Even if you’re not confident with your bargaining skill, Dong Xuan market is still the best place to buy food, clothing, and souvenirs.
- Visit Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple:
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of Jade Mountain) are the classic bits of Hanoi tourism. Located just next to the Old Quarter, the lake brings a fresh breath to the busy and crowded streets. Indeed, after the exhausting walking tour to the quarter where you have to weave through the ever-busy traffic flow of motorbikes and taxis, taking a short rest on the bank of the lake would be refreshing.
Ngoc Son Temple should be one of the best places in Hanoi to learn more about Vietnam worshipping culture. Ngoc Son Temple is dedicated to Van Xuong De Quan – the star of literature, and Tran Hung Dao – a national hero. The red The Huc Bridge is a site you should not miss when coming to Old Quarter.
- Visiting Hanoi Weekend Night Market:
Hanoi Old Quarter Weekend Night Market is open from 18.00 to 23.00 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is one of the busiest trading places with a number of booths up to 4000. The trading products here are varied from clothes to shoes, household appliances, crafts, souvenirs and so on, at affordable prices (In case you know how to bargain).
Every Saturday evening, at the two ends of the street, there are some performances such are traditional folk art and cultural exchanges such as ” Cheo”, Quan Ho, Ca Tru. This is unique to the Hanoi Old Quarter Nightlife that attracts many visitors, especially foreign tourists.
- Hang out in Bia Hoi Corner:
Bia Hoi or Fresh beer is said to have appeared in Vietnam from the end of the nineteenth century by French colonists. When they came here, they had brought and left in Vietnam their culture, lifestyle, architecture, and even food, and drink. Especially in Hanoi, you won’t have difficulty in finding corners or structures like in France.
Although the origin of this drink is not Vietnam, the Vietnamese have changed it and turned it into a typical feature of Vietnamese cuisine. If you ever come to Hanoi, do not to check the Bia Hoi Corner in Hanoi Old Quarter.
- Having Spas & Massage:
Spa and Massage in Hanoi Old Quarter is ubiquitous, that you can find perfect skilled massages at a very cheap price (from $5 for 1-hour of pampering) to luxury one ( also value your money). They offer a variety of massages from traditional Vietnamese massages, hot stone and shiatsu massages, Swedish, aromatherapy, acupressure with oil and lymphatic drainage.
4. What Food to Eat in Hanoi Old Quarter?
When traveling in the old town of Hanoi, surely you will not be able to ignore the food here. Here we learn some Hanoi Old Quarter delicacies and the most famous dining address here:
- Eating around Dong Xuan market
- Bun Ca Hang Buom – 43 Hang Buom
- Bat Dan Noodle – 49 Bat Dan
- Bun thang in bun thang Cau Goi – 32 Cau Go
- Bun bean shrimp paste in alley 31 Hang Khay, Hoan Kiem district
- Cha Ca La Vong – 14 Cha Ca
- Dry beef salad, and filter cake in Hoan Kiem street
5. Where to stay at Hanoi Old Quarter?
Our own hand-chosen list of best Hanoi Old Quarter hotels for accommodation. There is no doubt that a large number of luxury hotels and budget hostels are located in Hanoi Old Quarter. Most of the tourists also choose to stay in Hanoi’s old town of its convenient location and abundance of services. Below are some of the mid-ranged and upper-ranged boutique hotels we believe to offer quality services in the Old Quarter.
Somerset Grand Hanoi:
- Add: 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price from: USD 106
Hanoi La Siesta Hotel Trendy:
- Add: 12 Nguyen Quang Bich, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price from: USD 76
Oriental Suite Hotel & Spa:
- Add: 58 Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price from: USD 70
The Light Hotel:
- Add: 128-130 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price from: USD 69
Little Hanoi Deluxe Hotel:
- Add: 1 Yen Thai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price from: USD 52
Silk Queen Hotel:
- Add: 100 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem
- Price from: USD 48
Helios Legend Hotel:
- Add: 2D Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price from: USD 27
6. Best Time to Visit Hanoi old Quarter.
The best time to visit Hanoi Old Quarter is in the late afternoon and evering, as this is the busiest time of the day with shops, bars, street food restaurants,... You can visit on Walking Tour and rent a cyclo to cruise around watching daily life activities of local poeple. This is definately an amazing experience so far.
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