Located in the heart of Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi’s Old Quarter, with its ancient houses and streets rich in the historical memories of the capital city, has become one of the first and most enticing destinations that travelers cannot miss. When visiting Hanoi’s Old Quarter, tourists not only have the opportunity to explore the life and culture of Hanoi’s people throughout its history and in the present but also to savor flavorful and unique dishes that are hard to find elsewhere.
The article below will guide travelers to explore the 36 streets and neighborhoods of Hanoi with fascinating experiences.
Some Information about Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Where is Hanoi’s Old Quarter located?
- Location: Located in the central area of Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
- Opening hours: All day.
- Reference ticket price: Free.
When introducing Hanoi, people often mention Hanoi’s Old Quarter as an area situated in the eastern part of the Hoang Thanh Thang Long (the former name of Hanoi). Today, it is located in the central Hoan Kiem District, near Hoan Kiem Lake.
To the south, you have streets like Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Hang Thung, and Cau Go. To the north, you’ll find Hang Dau Street, while to the west, there’s Phung Hung Street, and to the east, Tran Nhat Duat Street. The Old Quarter covers an area of approximately 76 hectares, consisting of 72 streets and 10 neighborhoods.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is also known as the “Hanoi 36 Streets and Neighborhoods.” Each street is named after the distinctive products that were traditionally sold there. For example, Hang Ma Street is known for selling votive paper and gold, Hang Luoc specializes in wooden combs, horn combs, and plastic combs, while Hang Bong Street features many shops selling cotton and silk fabrics.
Although many of the streets no longer sell traditional goods, this area remains a bustling commercial hub and an essential tourist destination when visiting the capital city of Hanoi.
How to Get to Hanoi’s Old Quarter
You can easily reach the Old Quarter of Hanoi using various means of transportation, such as buses, motorcycles, cars, taxis, and cyclos. However, for the most convenient and fastest way to get there, you should consider using a motorcycle or a bus.
You don’t need to worry much about waiting for buses because there are numerous bus routes passing through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. You can consider taking some of the following routes:
- To Hoan Kiem Lake: Take bus numbers 09, 14, 36.
- To O Quan Chuong: Take bus numbers 03, 11, 14, 22, 18, 34, 40.
- To Dong Xuan Market: Take bus number 31, which runs from the Mining University to Bach Khoa University.
Starting from Cau Giay, you can follow this route: Cau Giay – Kim Ma – Nguyen Thai Hoc – Ba Trieu (Vincom Ba Trieu) – Hoan Kiem Lake. Once you reach the lake, you can park your motorcycle and begin your journey to explore the 36 streets and neighborhoods.
By Private Car
If you are traveling with a family or a large group, renting a private car with a driver in Hanoi is an excellent option. With the private car service provided by DanangPrivateCar.com’s, you can move quickly, and you can also visit many tourist spots without the need to search for public transportation.
Some Interesting Experiences in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Instagram-Worthy Spots on Hanoi’s Old Quarter Streets
The Old Quarter of Hanoi offers numerous charming corners, alleys, courtyards, or weathered walls that create a unique backdrop. You can simply lean against a wall or pretend to stroll through the old streets, and you’ll easily capture amazing “Instagram-worthy” photos.
Shopping in the Old Quarter
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a place where you can find a diverse and rich range of charming items to buy as gifts for your loved ones and family. You can visit familiar streets like the night market in the Old Quarter, Dong Xuan Market, or streets like Hang Bac, Hang Ngang, and Hang Dao to purchase handcrafted items, souvenirs, clothing, shoes, silver jewelry, and various snacks such as dried fruits.
A small tip for shopping here is to go in the afternoon to have a more relaxed time for browsing and bargaining, as many sellers in the morning might not be as open to haggling.
If you want to shop at the night market in the Old Quarter, you can only do so on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 6 PM to 11 PM. This bustling market features nearly 4,000 stalls, offering a wide variety of products, including clothing, shoes, household items, handcrafted goods, souvenirs, and more, all at affordable prices.
Explore Traditional Craft Villages in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is home to several traditional craft villages, which can be found on streets like Hang Ma, Hang Thiec, Hang Thuoc Bac, and Hang Tre. These streets not only sell traditional products but also preserve the heritage of these traditional crafts.
Admire Hanoi’s Old Quarter at Night
In the evening, Hanoi’s Old Quarter undergoes a transformation as the hustle and bustle of daytime life gives way to a more relaxed and illuminated atmosphere. The streets come alive with vibrant lights, and you can enjoy strolling around. Don’t miss the opportunity to join the pedestrian street activities near Hoan Kiem Lake.
Indulge in Delicious Street Food in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Traveling to Hanoi’s Old Quarter is not just about visiting landmarks; it’s also about savoring the delectable street food that captures the essence of Hanoi’s cuisine. After a long walk, there’s nothing better than enjoying a bowl of fragrant and savory bun cha or savoring a famous dish like bun bo nam bo or pho xao.
Fun Places in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Hoan Kiem Lake
Located in the city center, Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Ho Guom, is considered the heart of Hanoi. It is closely associated with the legend of the Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake), and anyone who visits this city of peace should come here at least once. Apart from its serene and cool atmosphere, Hoan Kiem Lake is a place of great historical and spiritual significance in the capital.
In the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake stands the ancient Turtle Tower. Situated on a small peninsula in the lake, besides the Turtle Tower, you can also find other famous relics such as the Pen Tower, Huc Bridge leading to Ngoc Son Temple, or Tran Ba Temple along the way to Ngoc Son Temple. When visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, don’t forget to enjoy the famous Trang Tien ice cream, a tradition that has endured for generations in Hanoi. All these aspects combine to create a distinctive image of Hoan Kiem Lake that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.
Dong Xuan Market
Established in 1889, Dong Xuan Market is the oldest and largest famous market in Hanoi, located in the heart of the Old Quarter. Here, you can find a diverse range of products such as clothing, shoes, pastries, household items, toys, traditional fabric with patterns, souvenirs, and food. However, the market is most famous for textiles and clothing. When visiting Dong Xuan Market, you will witness a bustling, lively scene with a large crowd of buyers and sellers.
While exploring Dong Xuan Market, do not miss the alley next to it, as it is a focal point for various eateries. It’s a delightful experience for those who want to discover and savor Hanoi’s street food. In the chilly atmosphere of a Hanoi afternoon, there’s nothing better than enjoying a bowl of rib porridge, a hot bowl of eel vermicelli, or indulging in shrimp cakes, grilled meatball noodles, and a cup of tea. You can enjoy your meals to your heart’s content here without worrying about your wallet.
What’s more, if you visit Dong Xuan Market on Friday, Saturday, or the final weekend of the month, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the night market. This is a smaller version of Hanoi’s lively evening life. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the night market, full of various goods and select the most lovely souvenirs for your loved ones and friends.
Hang Ma Street
Located in the Old Quarter, Hang Ma Street is considered the most vibrant and colorful street among the 36 ancient streets and neighborhoods in Hanoi. It is renowned for its traditional craftsmanship in creating votive paper and gold items used for worship and paper decorations. This place is a paradise for traditional goods that bear the folk mark of the past.
During festive seasons, Hang Ma Street transforms into a colorful spectacle. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, shops display traditional items such as lanterns, balloons, star-shaped lanterns, masks, lion heads, and drums. During the Lunar New Year, the street is filled with the bright and vivid colors of flowers, red banners, and small decorative items to adorn homes for the new year.
Besides shopping, when you visit Hang Ma Street, you’ll immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of buying and selling, accompanied by the lively sounds of drums, spinning noisemakers, and horns. While walking and exploring the traditional items and the streets of Hanoi, you’ll feel the spiritual atmosphere of the East.
O Quan Chuong
Built during the reign of King Le Hien Tong in 1749, O Quan Chuong is one of the five remaining ancient city gates in Hanoi. The name O Quan Chuong is associated with the bravery and sacrifice of a heroic guard named Chuong Co who fought until the end against the French army when they attacked Hanoi on November 20, 1873.
O Quan Chuong is designed as a high tower with a central gate and two side gates, displaying the distinctive architecture of the Nguyen dynasty. Above the main gate, there is a stone tablet that prohibits the guards from disturbing the public when passing by, placed there by Governor Hoang Dieu in 1881. Between the main gate and the tower, there is a large Chinese character “Dong Ha Mon.” Today, when you visit this gate, you can still admire its unique architectural features.
Throughout the years, O Quan Chuong has stood tall in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a living testament to the resilience and courage of our people, a symbol of the ancient capital, bearing the historical imprint of a thousand years of civilization.
- Address: O Quan Chuong Street, near Chua Chuong Dzung Bridge
Ma May Ancient House
If you want to experience the living space of Hanoi residents, you should not miss the ancient house at 87 Ma May Street. Here, you have the opportunity to explore the living space and the characteristics of an old Hanoi townhouse. That’s why it’s one of the most popular attractions that draws a large number of tourists.
In the evenings, this place often hosts Ca Tru singing performances by Thang Long parish or organizes traditional cultural activities typical of old Hanoi. Moreover, Ma May Ancient House is also the venue for many major cultural events. If you have the chance to visit this old house, don’t forget to enjoy the unique beauty of the ancient culture.
- Address: 87 Ma May Street, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Entrance fee: 10,000 Vietnamese dong.
Bach Ma Temple
Situated at 76-78 Hang Buom Street, Bach Ma Temple is one of the four guardian temples of the old Thang Long capital. Built in the 9th century, this temple is dedicated to the Long Do (Dragon-Riding) deity, the original guardian spirit of ancient Hanoi and the White Horse. As a cultural and historical relic that is thousands of years old, the surroundings of the temple have moss-covered structures, adding to its ancient and timeless beauty.
The temple is designed in the shape of the Chinese character “Tam” with a typical eight-roofed structure. It has a main shrine, over 13 horizontal lacquered boards, and an impressive set of bia da (stone stelae), all of which add to the charm of the temple. Inside, visitors can see the beautifully carved wooden columns and crossbeams that are a testament to the skills of ancient craftsmen.
When visiting Bach Ma Temple, you will have the chance to see various historical artifacts such as stone steles, royal decrees, an altar dedicated to Tế Vương Phi, and Bể Núi. This is a unique, ancient space that has been preserved among the old temples of the Thang Long capital.
- Address: 76-78 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Ta Hien Street
Ta Hien Street, often referred to as “Beer Street,” is a renowned and vibrant dining and entertainment destination located in the heart of Hanoi. This bustling thoroughfare has gained a well-deserved reputation as a must-visit location for travelers exploring the city.
Ta Hien Street is a lively hub that comes to life in the evenings, offering a fantastic array of dining options, from street food stalls serving authentic Vietnamese delicacies to charming restaurants and bars. It’s a place where both locals and tourists gather to enjoy the delightful culinary offerings, local beer, and a convivial atmosphere.
What to Eat in Hanoi’s Old Quarter?
When you visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter, you can’t miss out on the delicious cuisine it has to offer. There’s a wide range of traditional dishes that are characteristic of Hanoi, such as bun cha, bun dau mam tom, bun oc, pho, stir-fried pho, boiled snails, stir-fried chicken hearts, fresh beer, sweet soups, baguettes, and especially, the coffee in the Old Quarter. Here, we’ll introduce some popular dining spots you should consider when visiting the Old Quarter:
Alley near Dong Xuan Market
This is a well-known dining spot for Hanoi’s young folks, right next to Dong Xuan Market. It’s a hub for street food vendors offering delectable local dishes such as bun rieu (vermicelli with crab soup), bun cha on skewers, pho tiu (stir-fried pho), pork rib porridge, eel vermicelli, shrimp cakes, and sweet soups. It’s a delightful experience for those who want to explore Hanoi’s street food scene. Rest assured, you can enjoy your meals without worrying about your wallet.
- Price range: From 15,000 to 25,000 VND
Bun Cha Hang Buom
When in Hanoi, not trying bun cha would be missing out on half of the complete culinary journey. This beloved Hanoi street food has conquered many foodies with its flavorful taste. At Bun Cha Hang Buom, for only 25,000 VND, you can enjoy a delicious bowl of bun cha. Fresh vermicelli is dipped in sweet and sour dipping sauce, paired with savory grilled pork patties and fresh greens. It’s a treat that can win over even the most discerning palates.
- Address: 43 Hang Buom Street, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Oc Luoc on Dinh Liet Street
This is a popular snacking spot chosen by many tourists exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The menu at this eatery is diverse, offering various snail dishes such as boiled, stir-fried, and steamed snails, as well as fried sour spring rolls and other snacks. The aroma of hot snails is irresistible, especially on chilly days, making it an ideal snack.
- Address: 1 Dinh Liet Street, Hang Bac Ward, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 4 PM onwards
- Price range: 70,000 VND per dish
Stir-Fried Beef Offal, Stir-Fried Pho on Nguyen Sieu Street
A famous dining spot in the Old Quarter you should try is stir-fried pho, pho ran (fried pho), and stir-fried beef offal on Nguyen Sieu Street. This unique and unconventional addition to Hanoi’s culinary scene is known for its tempting aroma. The aroma at the street’s entrance will immediately captivate your senses. Whether it’s stir-fried pho, fried pho served with stir-fried beef offal and a touch of soy sauce, enjoyed with sweet and sour pickles, it’s truly wonderful. Although this place is only open for a few hours in the evening, it always welcomes a crowd of diners, illustrating the dish’s appeal.
- Address: 10 and 16 Nguyen Sieu Street, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 7 AM – 9 AM
Trang Tien Ice Cream: Just like pho, Trang Tien ice cream is a famous specialty of the capital city that you must try. During your Old Quarter journey, be sure to visit 35 Trang Tien Street to enjoy coconut ice cream, mung bean ice cream, or chocolate ice cream, all of which are sweet, fragrant, and refreshing.
Fruit Salad on To Tich Street: When it comes to fruit salad, people in the capital city immediately think of To Tich Street. After strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake or the Old Quarter, enjoying a cup of fresh and cool fruit salad is a satisfying experience.
Nem Chua Rán on Tam Thuong Alley: Known as the paradise of fried fermented pork roll, Tam Thuong Alley is always packed with visitors. The fried nem chua here is crispy, served on banana leaf-lined plates, along with pickles, green mango, and peanuts, which makes it less greasy than many other places.
One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter
When visiting Hanoi’s Old Quarter, it’s important to make the most of your time. Here’s a suggested one-day itinerary based on practical experience:
- 8:00 AM: Start your day by having breakfast in the Dong Xuan Alley on Hang Chieu Street. Opt for Hanoi-style pho or try local specialties like bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup) or bun oc (snail noodles).
- 8:30 AM: Explore Dong Xuan Market, the largest and oldest market in Hanoi. You can shop for souvenirs and get a feel for local life.
- 9:00 AM: Visit Quan Chuong Gate, located at the beginning of Hang Chieu Street. It’s one of the ancient city gates of Hanoi.
- 9:30 AM: Explore Bach Ma Temple, a historic temple nearby.
- 10:15 AM: Take a stroll to Ma May Ancient House at 87 Ma May – Hang Buom Street. This old house provides a glimpse into Hanoi’s history.
- 11:00 AM: Visit Kim Ngan Temple at 42-44 Hang Bac Street.
- 12:00 PM: Enjoy a traditional lunch of bun dau mam tom (fried tofu with shrimp paste) in Phat Loc Alley on Hang Bac Street.
- 2:00 PM: Head to Hoan Kiem Lake and explore the Ngoc Son Temple and the Pen Tower. Take a leisurely walk around the lake’s surroundings.
- 3:00 PM: Consider buying tickets for a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Alternatively, watch a traditional art performance at the Hanoi Opera House, or stroll along Hoan Kiem Walking Street, especially if you’re visiting on the weekend.
- 4:00 PM: Relax with a beer on Ta Hien Street or enjoy coffee and iced tea on the sidewalk. You can also try various street snacks like fruit salad on To Tich Street, dried beef salad on Hoan Kiem Street, or snails on Dinh Liet Street.
- 6:00 PM: Shop for souvenirs for your family and friends or yourself. The Old Quarter is a great place to find unique gifts.
- 7:00 PM: Savor a dinner of Cha Ca Thang Long (grilled fish) at 21 Duong Thanh or try stir-fried pho on Nguyen Sieu Street.
- 8:00 PM: Visit the weekend night market on Hang Dao and Hang Ngang Streets or take a relaxing evening stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter.
This itinerary allows you to experience the highlights of Hanoi’s Old Quarter in a day, from its rich history and culture to its culinary delights and shopping opportunities. Enjoy your visit!
Tips for visiting Hanoi’s Old Quarter
- Prices in the Old Quarter can be quite high, and haggling is possible, but it’s best to avoid negotiating early in the morning.
- Ensure the safety of your belongings during your trip, even though Hanoi’s security situation is generally stable.
- The police force is present everywhere to assist and serve you, whether you need directions or help with any issues during your journey.
- Pay attention to maintaining public hygiene and the overall environment.
- Make sure you have all necessary personal documents, essential items like your phone, ATM card, and cash for use when needed.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a must-visit destination when traveling to Hanoi if you wish to appreciate and learn more about the life and culture of the people of ancient Hanoi. With a rich historical background, Hanoi’s Old Quarter has preserved its unique and tranquil charm. Hopefully, through this article, Danang Private Car’s has helped you capture a glimpse of that timeless allure.