One should never miss the Old Quarter of Hanoi when visiting this charming city. It is the Old Quarter where you can discover the most Vietnamese things of Hanoi. Together with the French Quarter, The Old Quarter makes Hanoi more interesting and full of history. Through the ups and downs of Hanoi history, the soul of Thang Long (which was the old name of Hanoi, meaning Rising Dragon) has remained with that Old Quarter with many artisan workshops and commercial shops.

 

 

Our guests having draft beer and street food in the Old Quarter

 

 

Old Quarter of Hanoi is like a huge market with thousands of shops and stores. Every single house is a shop selling something or making something to sell, or restaurants and cafes. It’s very convenient for those living there in the Old Quarter to buy stuffs. As they just need to go next door to buy anything they want. Travelers should also know that Old Quarter of Hanoi provides the most delicious street food known to mankind.

 

Heaven for street food and drinks 

 

 

The Old Quarter looks very much like the shape of a leaf placed at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake ( Lake of the Restored Sword) The stalk of the leaf is represented by the main artery running from Silk Street to Dong Xuan market ( the largest wholesale market in the city). From either side of the stalk spreads a web of narrow streets leading towards the dyke of the Red River on the right hand side and the Ancient Citadel on the left.

 

 

Old Quarter ( Yelloo part ) 

 

 

There used to be 36 traditional streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi, in which they had only one thing to sell. The names of the streets were given by the goods and products they sold or make on that streets. All those names were shaped in the 15th century. Now we have Grilled Fish Street, Fish sauce Street, Salt Street, Silk Street, Sugar Street, Cotton Street, Coffin Street and the so… All the stores there on that particular street only had one exactly thing to sell. The good thing was they need not to advertise for what they sold. People knew where to go to get stuffs.

 

 

Selling fruits on the streets

 

 

But that was then and this is now. Nowadays the Old Quarter of Hanoi is not exactly what it used to be. Almost all streets here don’t sell the things in their names, but a little bit of everything. You don’t go to Silk Street to buy silk only but there are many things other than silk. All shops are mixed in one street and a huge appearance of hotels, restaurants and cafes.

 

 

Haircut on the street

 

 

One needs to have like at least a whole week to discovery every small lane and get to know the Old Quarter of Hanoi wholly. Old Quarter of Hanoi is best discovered on foot. As there are many small lanes that can only fit walking people, one at a time not the whole tour group. There are lanes so deep and narrow daylight can never reach. It’s both the exciting shops and stores in the fronts and people’s quiet life in those small dark lanes that make Hanoi Old Quarter unique and interesting.

 

 

 

Everyday life in the narrow lanes

 

 

If you have limited time and don’t really like to walk that much, especially in the heat of the summer or the 5 million motorbikes surrounding you, then rickshaws or cyclos will be the ideal way for you. The cyclos will stroll slowly into the narrow streets providing you a very relaxing time watching things passing by. It’s also worry free experience as you don’t have to struggle finding a small spot to put your feet on walking in those crazily busy streets.

 

 

Riding cyclos in the Old Quarter

 

 

 

By Pham Tuyen