20 THINGS EVERYONE NEEDS TO DO IN HANOI

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Hanoi, Vietnam"s capital city, is a rapidly modernising and bustling city. In amongst all this change is one constant - the Old Quarter, or Old Town, the historic heart and soul of Hanoi. With a history dating back 1000 years, the Old Quarter is the meeting point of past, present and future.

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Packed with charming, French colonial architecture and bustling streets, it is simply unmissable.

History Of The Old Quarter, Hanoi

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Streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi during the day // Photo
mikecphoto / Shutterstock

The Old Quarter is a reflection of Vietnam"s storied past. Its history dates back khổng lồ the 11th-century when, after independence from China, Emperor Ly Thai to lớn decided khổng lồ move the capital from Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh khổng lồ Hanoi. Today, the imperial citadel of Thang Long và the O quan lại Chuong gate, which are located nearby the Old Quarter, stand as remnants of this storied past.

Hanoi Old Quarter soon established itself as a centre of arts and crafts, & this attracted skilled craftspeople to lớn live và work in the area. Migrants often came from the same village and operated in guilds, often settling in one street & specialising in one particular good or service. They also brought their religious beliefs with them, building temples và pagodas wherever they settled.

The Nguyen dynasty tax on the street frontage, which is maintained today, led people lớn build "tube houses" - a narrow architectural style common across the Old Quarter & Vietnam. These traditional streets garnered the Old Quarter the nickname "36 Old Streets", and many are still named after the product they specialised in, reflecting the craft traditions và history of the area.

Nowadays, you"ll also notice the 19th and 20th-century French influence, particularly in the yellow coloured exteriors of the old villas, houses, and buildings, as well as the wide tree-lined boulevards heading into the Old Quarter. All this history sits in and around the modern high-rises và buildings of a rapidly growing Hanoi, making the Old Quarter a fascinating travel destination.

Where Is The Old Quarter, Hanoi Located?

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Tourist xe taxi bicycle at streetlife in the parth of old historical town // Photo
oOhyperblaster / Shutterstock

The Old Quarter is part of Hanoi"s Hoan Kiem district, which is situated west of the red river and Long Bien bridge and east of Ho đưa ra Minh"s mausoleum. Although the government has delineated the Old Quarter"s limits by the most historical parts, if you stray outside of the area, you"ll still find many streets worth visiting which were part of Hanoi"s historical urban centre.

If you are visiting Hanoi, the chances are you"ll be staying in one of the Old Quarter"s many hotels. If not, no worries! The best way khổng lồ get there is using one of the local xe taxi apps - we recommend Grab or Gojek - where you can put in your exact address before travelling & have a fixed price.

Top Old Quarter Attractions and Best Things to Do

Hanoi"s Old Quarter is an absolute must-visit for any traveler in Vietnam. Its charming streets are bursting with attractions và activities, promising a fully immersive cultural experience for all visitors. There’s still something special that awaits you at every corner of this nostalgic area. Khổng lồ help make your trip even more unforgettable, here are some of top things you should never miss!

Discover Ancient Streets
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The 36 old streets of the old quarter are a major tourist attraction // Photo
Rolf_52 / Shutterstock

With its endless stream of motorbikes & hole-in-the-wall market stalls and restaurants, the Old Quarter can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. Phối off on a cyclo, once a popular khung of transport for Hanoian elites, và you can sit back and let your driver navigate all the hustle & bustle at a comfortable pace. You"ll also have the perfect vantage point to explore và capture the chaotic streets, so have your camera ready!

If you want khổng lồ explore by yourself, getting lost in the Old Quarter can be a real pleasure. You"ll find yourself discovering quaint alleys, houses, & restaurants, and the only thing stopping you will be the tantalising smell of Vietnamese coffee - or the sizzling sun.

Visit Hoan Kiem Lake
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Hoan Kiem Lake is the perfect relaxing thing to vày in Hanoi // Photo
Panom / Shutterstock

Located right in the centre of the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem is one of Vietnam"s most iconic lakes. Its calming waters và natural beauty surround Turtle Tower, which sits elegantly in the middle of the lake. Towards the side is Ngoc Son Temple, an 18th-century pagoda accessible by Huc bridge, a beautiful red và wooden footbridge. The temple is dedicated to military leader Tran Hung Dao, who fought off the mighty Mongol invaders in the 13th century.

Take a stroll around the lake and find yourself a cafe where you can sit & watch the lake"s beautiful colours and the street performances. This is best enjoyed on weekends from 7 pm Friday khổng lồ 12 pm Sunday when vehicles are banned, leaving pedestrians with the rare opportunity to rule the streets.

Hoan Kiem lake, also known as "restored sword" lake, is famed amongst Vietnamese people. Legend has it that a turtle gave Le Loi, an ancient warlord, a magical sword which he used to lớn defeat the invading Chinese Ming dynasty, before returning it to lớn its rightful owner, the dragon king.

Go Shopping!

Shopping is an absolute must when in the Hanoi Old Quarter.

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Here is a mini-guide on which markets and streets specialise in what:

Hang Bac street: here you"ll find all the precious stones, jewelry & jade you could wish for.Hang gai (silk) street: from scarves to suits, this is the best place to find clothes & garments. The tailors here will have you measured up và suited and booted in 24 hours;Luong Van Can street: offers colourful souvenirs and toys for children;Hang Ma street: packed with toys, decorations và paper lanterns, this colourful street comes into its own during festivals lượt thích Tet and Christmas;Lan Ong: named after a famous Vietnamese doctor, this is the spot for all your traditional medicine needs;
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Go shopping at Dong Xuan market // Photo
Nonnakrit / Shutterstock

If you"re looking for a market, look no further than Dong Xuan Market. This is Hanoi"s answer lớn the Ben Thanh market in Saigon, và it is the oldest traditional market in the capital.

Like most markets in Southeast Asia, the ground floor hosts a wet market selling mostly meat, fish & flowers. Upstairs is where you"ll find any number of products - from t-shirts & handbags to lớn electronic goods & handicrafts - và you can get great value wholesale prices.

Opening Hours: Daily 6 am - 7 pmAddress: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem District, HanoiVisit The Weekend Night Market Hanoi
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Make the most of Hanoi’s Nightlife // Photo
Michal Stipek / Shutterstock

Every weekend the Old Quarter plays host to lớn a night market, one of the busiest in the capital. Fortunately, motorbikes are also banned, so you can walk freely without fear of being mowed down.

Starting at Hang Dao street lớn the edge of Dong Xuan market, you"ll find yourself immersed in an electric atmosphere full of colourful lights và stalls, which sell everything from t-shirts and souvenirs to lớn local street food & snacks. Remember to lớn put your bargaining skills to lớn the test!

This is also a great spot to kiểm tra out the local street artists & singers, whose performances attract flocks of viewers. As you walk, you"ll likely see cultural shows featuring traditional performances, which will give you great insight into traditional Vietnamese culture.

After a stroll through the night market, you may feel charged up và ready for a beer! For the freshest & one of the most affordable prices on earth let alone the Old Quarter, get down lớn the Bia Hoi near Ta Hien street, where a glass costs only 5-6,000 VND. To lớn learn more about Vietnam"s Bia Hoi drinking culture - và how it"s so cheap - check out our guide here.

Opening hours: 7 pm – 11 pm Friday, Saturday và Sunday in the old townTaste The Local Street Food

The Old Quarter is home to some of the best food in Vietnam. & whilst foreign tourists usually know Vietnamese food such as banh mi & pho - amazing dishes in their own right - there are a whole load more foods waiting for you lớn discover!

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The sauce is a perfect balance of flavour and accompanies your vermicelli noodles, coriander, thai basil & barbecued meat lớn mix together // Photo
tía Tung Huynh / Shutterstock

Here are 3 classic Hanoian dishes và 1 quality style of coffee worth trying:

Bun Cha: Originating in Hanoi, this vermicelli noodle dish is topped with BBQ pork belly slices & meatballs in a delicious broth, served with fresh herbs.Bun Thang: Thin strips of chicken và pork accompany eggs, mushrooms, green onions, fried shallots, chilli, & coriander that sit on vị trí cao nhất of the delicious broth & noodles.Cha Ca La Vong: Grilled turmeric fish mixed with dill và scallions, roasted peanuts, dipping sauce và a side of noodles.Egg coffee (cà phê trứng): A meringue-like mixture, which is made from beaten egg yolk và condensed milk, mixed with a rich robusta coffee. It"s more similar lớn a dessert than a coffee. Not one khổng lồ be missed!Visit Bach Ma Temple
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As you enter, the charming & ancient wooden doors invite you into a red và gold decorated interior // Photo
Salajean / Shutterstock

Bach Ma temple, the oldest temple in Hanoi, is a Buddhist temple that dates back lớn the 9th century. It was built to lớn honour Bach Ma, or trắng horse, which supposedly helped Emperor Ly Thai to lớn - whose attempts lớn construct a new citadel had been failing - to lớn trace the best area lớn build using his hooves.

As you enter, the charming and ancient wooden doors invite you into a red và gold decorated interior, filled with ancient Vietnamese characters & beautiful carvings và artwork. There are shrines lớn the white horse, Confucius, as well as an altar dedicated lớn the phoenix - one of the four holiest animals in Vietnamese culture.

Typically, worshippers burn incense & pray here quietly, giving it a solemn atmosphere. But if you come here during any big festival you"re likely lớn see a range of cultural celebrations & festivities, folk games, human chess and tuy nhiên competitions.

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Address: 76 Hang Buom, hoàn Kiếm, Hà NộiOpening hours: 9 am to lớn 5:30 pm

Why do Old Quarter Be Loved By Our Foreigner Friends?

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The Hanoi Train Street is a popular attraction // Photo
Bule Sky Studio / Shutterstock

Wherever you go in the Old Quarter, its charming but chaotic streets are sure to lớn memorise you. Blessed with a unique blend of historical sites và architecture, shops, cafes, & food, it is unsurprisingly one of Vietnam"s most popular tourist destinations. & whether it"s your first trip or your 10th, the Old Quarter will always surprise you with something new.

Do you know that from that place, you could reach out to many fascinating places? kiểm tra out our top hand-picked Hanoi tours departing from the Old Quarter now!