Hanoi Old Quarter Guide
Hanoi Old Quarter, demonstrating seamless fusion between old, proudly-preserved culture and continuously diversifying city, is now the oldest yet busiest commercial district and tourist attraction in Hanoi, at the heart of the capital city.
- Walk through narrow alleys with clusters of workshops
- Distinguish different crafts and workshops on each street
- Enjoy interaction with local artisans
- Taste the best and most famous food in Hanoi
- Enjoy the breeze and a leisurely cyclo tour, in company of your guide
Streets with Clusters of Workshops
Find out just how busy Hanoi’s trading is in just 10 minutes’ walk north of Hoan Kiem Lake, which is partially surrounded by the old citadel wall. The Old Quarter once consisted of small ‘craft villages’, before growing into streets with clusters of craftsmen and merchants.
It’s interesting to see that people from the same villages tend to live in the same street, developing the same crafts, represented by the names of the streets.
The Old Quarter deserves its renown, with all its commercial hustle and bustle, home to the city’s best restaurants, hotels and unique architectural buildings, as well as tube houses.
Find the Best of the Best
Get your perfect and authentic Hanoi crafts here, such as silk clothing in Hang Gai, unique jewelry from one of the jewelry art shops on Hang Bac, and much more. All can be found in one district, just a few blocks in width.
But among the hundreds of shops and workshops, which are the best? Our excellent and knowledgeable local guides will lead you, providing you with insights about the Quarter’s history, for your most authentic experience in Hanoi, and saving you time and trouble.
Main Attractions of the Old Quarter
In addition to crafts and commercial activities, there’s way more to visit, see and discover in the Old Quarter.
Dong Xuan Market
Known as Hanoi’s largest indoor market, this four-story Soviet-style market was established in 1889 and offers a wide range of different goods.
On the ground floor section you can find local stalls of seafood, meat, vegetables, and typical Asian wet market goods. On the upper floor you can find souvenirs, accessories, clothing, makeup and much more.
While the surroundings of Dong Xuan Market are interesting as it is, they are even prettier at night when the food vendors open their stalls and sell local dishes such as banh cuon, pho, bun cha.
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm
Location: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem District
Bach Ma Temple
With beautifully detailed interior and a red-lacquered funeral palanquin with white horse statue inside, the temple offers you calm surroundings, with a chance to stop for a quiet and peaceful moment.
The temple name is connected to the white horse (bach ma) statue inside. It is believed that a white horse appeared and showed King Ly Thai To the best place to build the temple, since the king was struggling to find the best place, despite the contours of the ground.
As the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, Bach Ma Temple is still well-maintained and actively visited by worshippers who burn incense and pray there.
Opening Hours: 7 am – 5 pm
Location: 76 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem District
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
The popular hour-long puppet show is an ancient-art performance from North Vietnam, with folk tales, and stories about life in an ancient village, or agricultural harvests.
Water puppets were originally created in the 11th century as entertainment during the time the rice paddy fields were flooded. Farmers made a puppet show by standing in the waist-deep water, making the puppets perform over the water.
The shows, accompanied by Vietnamese orchestras, offer you a unique and unforgettable way to understand the local culture. It is advisable to book early, as the shows are usually packed. Contact us for more info.
Opening Hours: 3 pm; 4.10 pm; 5.20 pm; 6.30 pm; 8 pm (daily)
Address: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District
Local Eateries and Cafés
When the sun’s down, the city seems even more awake. Our local guide will help you find your spot on Bia Hoi Junction, a very popular beer haven and a busy corner between Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets 24 hours a day.
Sit on a plastic chair somewhere in the middle of the packed crowd, have a pint of bia hoi beer and share your amazing travel stories with friends, or enjoy a quieter and more private atmosphere further down the lane.
Replenish the calories you burned during the morning walking tour by grabbing some bun cha (noodles and fish with vegetables in an exquisite broth) in Duong Thanh, cha ca (fish noodles) in Cha Ca Street and the famous pho that can be found almost anywhere. Read our review of the best pho in Hanoi here.
Or, if you must end a night with good music, Thang Long Ca Tru Guild might suit you, as twice or three times each week Vietnamese experts put on a performance of Ca Tru, some traditional Vietnamese music.
Old Quarter Walking and Street Food Tour
A day-tour in Hanoi starts when you meet our local guide who will lead you to visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, where you will be introduced to Vietnam’s 55 minority groups and their cultures, and Hoa Lo Prison with its mind-bending history.
Later, our local guide will show you the famous Hoan Kiem Lake. Take a seat on a bench beside the lake and enjoy the breeze at the boulevard while watching the busy traffic, and when you’re ready, the Old Quarter will be the next destination.
Although walking is awesome, you might as well try a cyclo-ride and let the cyclo driver take you to the must-visit places. In this way you can have a leisurely tour of the Old Quarter, with photo stops anywhere you please.
Another tour is designed for your gastronomic pleasure: Join the half-day food-tasting tour, to taste different well-known food in well-known restaurants and visit some hard-to-find eating spots. The tour incorporates about nine tasting stops in total.
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