ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Walking Tour Old Quarter Hanoi

Updated on July 16, 2011

Old Quarter Hanoi

A visit to the Old Quarter in Hanoi should rank number one on any list of “must-do” Vietnam travel activities. Why? The Old Quarter deserves this spot because it's unique, historical, fascinating, bustling with activity, it has rich aromas and its noisy.

The Old Quarter in Hanoi is over one thousand years old and today retains much of the old flavor that made the area special in earlier times.

In the Old Quarter Hanoi each street was the exclusive domain of one trade (guilds) so there are whole streets of blacksmiths, silver shops, paper shops, headstone makers and more.

Originally there were just 36 streets in the Old Quarter but today there are more than 50 streets. Although many of the streets are short, and the area is rather compact, I recommend visitors allow four or five hours to soak up the atmosphere and sights.

Old Quarter Streets

Each street begins with the name Hang which means merchandise and the second word represents the product service. In this fascinating area some of the streets are: Hang Gai is silk street, Hang Bac (silversmiths), Hang Bo (baskets), Hang Quat (fans), Hang Thiec (tin), Hang Gaiy (paper or shoes - imagine that ladies!), Hang Huong (incense), Hang Bong (cotton) etc.

These days many of the streets cater to mixed businesses but there is sufficient activity to link one to a time long since gone.

The maze of streets here are narrow and bustling with activity from early in the morning. Although the streets are quieter at night there is still much activity.

The area begins around the well known landmark of Hoan Kiem and extends to the north and west of the lake. A good place to start is at the northern end of the lake by the Visitors Center where you can get a map which is invaluable as its easy to get disorientated in this area.

The Lonely Planet Guide has a suggested walking tour and has a good map with some useful background information on the area. Alternatively just wandering the streets marveling at the activity taking place on the pavements is a joy.

Welders crouch on the pavement welding boxes, hat stands or whatever else the client wants, delivery scooters weave in and out of traffic, stopping awhile here and there to pick up or drop off merchandise.

In the street for locks it’s said that you can get any type of lock your heart desires.

Another street sells mats and that’s all. Merchandise tumbles out onto the pavement right to the gutter in places forcing the casual wanderer out onto the street to compete with the scooter riders and cars - all tooting relentlessly.

Now some of the streets are mixed with other trades or services or they have changed to meet the market (such as toy street) but there are still many streets with exclusive trades to glimpse into a life of a bygone era.

Street Crossing in an art form

Crossing the street here, as in many places in Vietnam is an art form. You need to pick your moment and move slowly into the traffic. Don't take on the buses or cars! Move slowly forward keeping your eyes on the vehicles coming towards you. NEVER step back. Just edge slowly forwards and somehow the traffic moves around you.

Food Options Abound

Food in the Old Quarter Hanoi

Today, for the tourist, there are plenty of places to stop for refreshments. And you will need it! Local food places, restaurants markets, bars, juice cafes, the local coffee and tea cafes all compete for a narrow corner of space in this bustling area of Hanoi.

Join with the locals as they shop for their days supplies at the local markets, buy a loaf of French bread and munch it as you wander the shady tree lined streets.

What you won’t find in the Old Quarter Hanoi are the fast food chains so prevalent in many other tourist spots around the world.

Stopping awhile at a local café with tables which spill out onto the street affords travelers the opportunity to sit comfortably and watch the activity happening around you. You certainly see much more when you stop awhile and just observe.

Lonely Planet Vietnam (Country Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Vietnam (Country Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet is a great guide for Vietnam Travel

The ambience in the area is captivating and addictive encouraging visitors to return again and again.

It's so interesting in this small corner of the world that I don't think you can see everything there is to see in one visit.

However, if your time is limited, take a stroll around the area and eat in one of the cafes with outdoor seating. You will have memories to treasure.

The Old Quarter, Hanoi in my view definitely deserves to be the number one activity on any travel Vietnam itinerary.

Noodles - Old Quarter

Write and Earn

If, like me you like to write, why not join me here at HubPages.

Its free to join and the community is really supportive so don't worry if this is your first attempt writing online.  I recommend HubPages.

And Finally....

Writers love feedback so I'll be pleased if you would leave a comment.  If you like it please rate it up or if think it'll be useful to someone, please pass it on.

My writing and photos are copyright Travelespresso.  Please respect that.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)