Hanoi Old Quarter has gained its renown thanks to its numerous attractions, rich cuisine, vibrant nightlife and unique handicrafts. The ups and downs of the city can be clearly seen in this downtown area. This is the reason why it is considered an excellent spot for tourists to explore the culture of Hanoi and sightsee on foot. For more details about Hanoi Old Quarter, read this article till the end!
1. About Hanoi Old Quarter Vietnam
Talking about Hanoi, the terms "36 streets of Hanoi" or "Hanoi Old Quarter” will almost come to everyone’s mind - as these are the streets that have witnessed the history of the capital. The old quarter in Hanoi is now an attractive tourist destination that visitors cannot ignore.
1.1. Where is Hanoi Old Quarter? How to get there?
Hanoi Old Quarter is located to the West and North of Hoan Kiem Lake. This area consists of 36 streets. On the Northernmost side of the old quarter is Hang Dau Street, on the Westernmost side is Phung Hung Street. The Southern section includes Hang Bong Street, Hang Gai Street, Cau Go Street and Hang Thung Street, while the Eastern section includes Tran Quang Khai Street and Tran Nhat Duat Street.
There are many means of transport for you to choose from to go to Hanoi Old Quarter, such as bus, taxi, motorbike taxi, etc. If you go by bus, you can choose the buses number 09, 14, 36 to get to Hoan Kiem Lake or buses number 03, 11, 14, 18, 22, 34, 40 to get to O Quan Chuong Gate.
1.2. What are the highlights of the history of the old quarter?
The history of the Old Quarter began when King Ly Thai To decided to change the capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Hanoi in the 17th century. Craftsmen from all the surrounding regions started flocking to the area in the 13th century, and over time, they organized themselves into guilds and cooperatives.
At least 36 trade guilds existed in the area in the 15th century. A street which belonged to a guild will be given the name of the commodity the guild was known for. For instance, Hang Tre Street was known as the marketplace for bamboo (tre) products.
In this area, Western architectural style won over traditional Vietnamese and Chinese styles in the 1950s due to the influence of the French. Nowadays, there is no dominant style in Hanoi Old Quarter, although many of the area's landmarks feature French architecture.
2. The distinct feature of the Old Quarter Hanoi
The preserved Old Quarter today is the remains of Hanoi's 36 streets in the past. Visiting this place, you can imagine the culture, socio-economy and people of the old Thang Long Citadel.
The most characteristic feature of Hanoi Old Quarter is the craft streets. From craft villages around the ancient Thang Long citadel, Hanoi's famous craftsmen gathered here and worked together to form traditional craft quarters.
The most famous craft streets of Hanoi Old Quarter include:
- Hang Bong Street, which specializes in selling quilts, blankets and cushions
- Hang Bac Street, which specializes in selling gold and silver jewelry
- Hang Dao Street, which specializes in selling fabrics of all kinds
- Hang Ma Street, which specializes in selling votive paper, offerings, decorations, toys for the Mid-Autumn Festival and Christmas
- Hang Quat Street, which specializes in selling offerings
- Hang Buom Street, which specializes in selling sweets and jams for Tet
- Hang Thiec Street, which specializes in processing metal, casting tin and iron into household items
- Ma May Street, which specializes in travel and tourism services
3. Things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter to be put in your bucket list
There are a great number of exciting activities to experience in Hanoi Old Quarter. Here are some of them:
3.1. Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
Located in the city center, Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is considered the heart of Hanoi, associated with the legend of the turtle deity claiming the magical sword. Not only attracting visitors with its airy landscape, this is also a Hanoi tourist destination that shows the historical and spiritual tradition of the capital. Therefore, anyone who comes to this city should visit this place once.
In the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, there is an ancient Turtle Tower. Besides, you can see a small peninsula in which there are other famous relics such as Pen Tower, The Huc Bridge, Tran Ba Communal House, Ngoc Son Temple, etc. Also, visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, you can have a chance to enjoy Trang Tien ice cream - a famous specialty that has been popular for generations in Hanoi.
3.2. Visit Hang Ma Street - one of the busiest streets in Ha Noi
Located in the Old Quarter, Hang Ma Street is known by tourists as the busiest and most brilliant of the 36 ancient streets in Hanoi. It is famous for the traditional craft of making votive paper. Coming here, you can immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of trading activities, along with the vibrant sounds of drums and even trumpets.
3.3. Immerse yourself in the bustling ambiance of Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan Market, surrounded by the streets of Dong Xuan, Hang Khoai, and Cau Dong, is located at the westernmost side of Hanoi Old Quarter. Like Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City or Dam Market in Da Nang, this market has been a symbol and the pride of Hanoi people for many years.
Nestled in downtown Hanoi, this is a large wholesale market with an area of 6,500 square meters with more than 2,100 stalls and 71 kiosks. It sells a multitude of items for the people of Hanoi and is a source of supply for traders. It welcomes thousands of people every day who also come to take pictures, shop around or enjoy food.
3.4. Contemplate the architecture of Ma May Ancient House
There are 14 historic houses in Hanoi Old Quarter, and the one at No. 87, Ma May Street is one of them. It was constructed in the 19th century as a residence and place of business. Since its construction, ownership has changed numerous times, but thanks to the effort of every owner and the government, the original design of the house is preserved.
Ma May Ancient House has a total area of 157.6 square meters. It has the design of a multi-storey tube house which was popular at the time. The front area is 5 meters wide, the back area is 6 meters wide, and the length of the house is 28 meters. The house's design, with the back area being wider than the front area, represents people's belief in the past that it would bring its owner prosperity and happiness.
3.5. Have a drink in the beer street Hanoi Old Quarter - Ta Hien
Ta Hien Street is likened to a paradise for night owls and beer lovers. The beer of Ta Hien Street is incredibly well-known so it is not an exaggeration to say that this is the best place to take in Hanoi's vibrant nightlife and sip a cool beer. If you come to Hanoi on sweltering days, grab some beer and cheer with your friends at this place!
Here, instead of sitting in pubs, you will sit on an outdoor stool to enjoy bottles of beer that are also put on a stool. This is a great way for visitors to experience the traditional and simple lifestyle in Hanoi. Additionally, the beer is frequently served with mouth-watering food like roasted squid, fried fermented pork rolls, roasted bird, or sunflower seeds.
3.6. Learn about Vietnamese history in O Quan Chuong Gate
Old East Gate, also known as O Quan Chuong Gate, was built during the reign of King Le Hien Tong (1749). It is located at the intersection of Hang Chieu Street, Dao Duy Tu Street, Thanh Ha Street, and O Quan Chuong Street, which is about 1.5 kilometers to the North of Hoan Kiem Lake. From here, visitors can walk around to see the hustle and bustle of the local people's daily life.
As the last standing gate in Hanoi, O Quang Chuong Gate basically retains all of its original design. This building bears the imprints of the characteristic Nguyen Dynasty architecture, including a two-storey gate made of stones and bricks hammered with wooden mallets. The second storey is a pavilion with a curving roof. Originally used as a vantage point for guards, this storey is currently where the national flag is flown on special occasions.
3.7. Explore Bach Ma Temple - An ancient temple of Thang Long Citadel
Bach Ma Temple was constructed in the 9th century and used to worship Long Do, a legendary deity of Hanoi. Many past dynasties acknowledged this place as an exceptional building and had continued to restore it. The temple resembles an eight-roof communal house decorated with patterns that are very similar to Hoi An fine arts.
People often visit Bach Ma Temple to take in the peaceful atmosphere and admire the engraving artifacts in ancient times. If you come here on the 12th and 13th days of the second lunar month, you will likely experience the melancholy atmosphere of an annual traditional festival at Bach Ma Temple.
4. What to eat in Hanoi Old Quarter: Top must-try dishes
To discover the true taste of Hanoi cuisine, you should not miss out on the following dishes in Hanoi Old Quarter:
- Pho - the quintessence of Hanoi cuisine: Pho is the best food in Hanoi Old Quarter. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The broth is made from beef bones. The meat used for pho can be beef or chicken, and the seasoning includes green onion, pepper, chili vinegar, sliced lemon, etc.
- Grilled pork and noodles (bun cha): This is a traditional dish of Northern Vietnam. It includes vermicelli noodles, a ton of fresh herbs, tasty and juicy pork meatballs, and the classic dipping sauce. It is a dish that many people in Northern Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular hold dear to their hearts.
- Vermicelli and chicken soup (bun thang): This is a sophisticated noodle soup with a variety of flavorful toppings, such as shredded chicken, pork sausage, egg crepes, shrimp floss, and flavorful herbs. Its broth consists of chicken, shrimp, and shiitake mushroom.
- Vietnamese rice noodles with fermented shrimp paste: A tiny bowl of fermented shrimp paste, fresh herbs, fried tofu, and rice vermicelli make up this dish. Its highlight is the combination of fermented shrimp paste and a bit of kumquat juice.
- La Vong grilled chopped fish: This dish features grilled fish that has been marinated in turmeric and combined with sautéed onions and dills, along with vermicelli noodles, toasted peanuts, and dipping sauce. It has the perfect harmony of savory, sweet, and sour flavors.
In addition to the tourist attractions in Hanoi Old Quarter, you should fill your trip with other destinations in Hanoi City. It is highly recommended that you visit Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE Times City during your Hanoi Old Quarter travels.
With more than 30,000 different freshwater and saltwater marine specimens, Vinpearl Aquarium is one of Vietnam's most advanced aquarium systems which gives you the chance to explore a colorful underwater world.
On the other hand, VinKE is an entertainment haven for kids which also offers them career orientation. In this place, your children can try many real-life jobs to learn more about their future prospects.
>>> Book tickets of Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE in advance to grab the best deals!
In Hanoi Old Quarter, there are a ton of things to do and dozens of fantastic places to visit. Hopefully, the information in this article will help make your exploration in Hanoi Old Quarter entertaining and intriguing. For a complete trip, do not forget to book tickets of Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE to get a preferential price for a remarkable experience! Hopefully, you and your loved ones will enjoy a trip full of excitement and unforgettable moments!