Hanoi Old Quarter has an extremely long story of 2000 year history. The daily life of Hanoians is reflected in the clearest way with crowded streets of people trading with each other. The quarter concludes mainly 36 Old Streets divided and named according to their kind of craft careers in the past, and the traditional working system has been totally gone for years. This area is also the heart featuring cultural architecture of Hanoi and other historic and religious regions. This itinerary is written with the purpose to help tourists having a completely exciting walking day around this authentic destination.
Starting at Cau Go Street, passing the famous Avalon Coffee Lounge, walking about 100m, you’ll see a small lane to the left which leads to Gia Ngu Street, which is major for a variety of crafty stuff and underwear, in thousand sorts and colors as well as rows of clothes stores for middle-aged people.
Following the map above, turn right on Gia Ngu to reach Hang Be market (numbered 1), cross the street so you will meeet Nguyen Huu Huan for a bowl of Xoi Xeo (numbered 2) at Xoi Yen eatery.
From the Xoi Yen crossroads, just turn to Hang Bac Street and keep walking. You should pump in to the centre of Hang Bac Street where tons of sparkling gold, silver and jewery dazzle your eyes . They are additionally a good idea to be souvenirs for your friends.
At the conjunction (numbered 3) go straight ahead is Luong Ngoc Quyen Street – a venue displed with snack food-stalls with plenty of traditional cakes such as Banh Day, Banh Gio or Banh Chin Tang May. At this criss-cross, there are crowds sitting on stool chairs and drinking beer every single season of the year. You may joi the exciting young crowd in the later afternoon and who know if you will make new friends?
Passing Luong Ngoc Quyen is the 208 meter-long Hang Giay Street selling Vietnamese specialty “Thit Bo Kho” (Dried spiced beef) and pottery products.
The next stop is Hang Buom Street which used to play a critically memorable part during the resistance war against French colonists as a commercial center. At present, this street still conveys its past with numbers of grocery and wine stores. Located at 76 Hang Buom Street is the ancient Bach Ma Temple (numbered 5) – one of the Four Protective Temples of Thang Long citadel, which is highly recommended for visitors.
After finishing your trip on Hang Buom Street, turn back to the junction with Hang Giay and keep walking till you meet Hang Chieu Street. Turn right and you can witness one of the 21 main castle gates of Thang Long: O Quan Chuong (Quan Chuong Gate). Suffering from the damage of time, the gate is still remaining its original shape with one main gate, 2 two small gates in both sides.
Another indispensible destination is Dong Xuan Market whose main gate is located on Dong Xuan Street (marked 6 and 7). Howevers, tourists can enter this busy market from Cau Dong or Hang Khoai Street with just a few minutes walking from the last stop. The market was established at the beginning of 20th Century and now being the biggest wholesale market in Hanoi. Goods being sold there are very diverse, ranging from electronic household appliances, silk, clothes to fresh food like chicken, meat, vegetable. Specially, the market is a venue of Hanoi’s night gastronomy with variety of street-food eateries.
Exit Dong Xuan Market through its main gate on Dong Xuan Street, then turn right and move forward to get Hang Duong Street, where is the street of dried sweetened fruits or vegetables called “ô mai” and “mứt”, one of the most common junk food in Vietnam (marked 8). On this street, one can visit Cau Dong Pagoda, buit during 17th century, worshiping the Prime Minister Tran Thu Do, who paid a major contribution to adopt Tran Dynasty (1225-1400).
Passing a small street called Hang Ca to arrive at Cha Ca Street. The name “Cha Ca” of this street is named after the famous dishes “Cha Ca” which is the delicacy of Hanoi’s gastronomy. “Cha Ca La Vong” at no. 14 (numbered 9 on the map) is the birthplace of this unique food that ones are wholeheartedly recommended for every tourists.
After finishing delighted cuisines, keep moving forward along these quarters, passing Lan Ong Street where you can smell Northern medicine aroma to meet Hang Can Street. Continuing your path till you reach a full stall of toys on Luong Van Can Street (marked 10); get the end of this street and turn right, you’ll see Hang Gai Street – the kingdom for silk-lovers with shimmering scarves and stoles, finely domestic male and female clothing, sophisticatedly embroidered and sequined evening gowns aw well as handbags.
It may take you 5 minute walking to reach Ly Quoc Su Street which is on the left of Hang Gai; the street is crowded with clothes shop and is the address of Ly Quoc Su Temple, erected in 1131 during Ly Dynasty that possess medieval architecture. At the end of this street is the magnificent Saint Joseph Cathedral at 40 Nha Chung Street (also called Hanoi Cathedral), where often hold religious activities for all Catholists. The construction was built in 1882 and designed as same as the Notre Dame which is following Gothic design in Paris that still features its own beauty.
Turn right when you see the first route to reach Le Thai To Street, which is beside of the famous Hoan Kiem Lake. It would be great to take a small tour around the lake side and take some photos or watching its green water surface. If you are lucky enough, you may have chance to see the holy turtle turning up.
Once getting the water fountain on Dinh Tien Hoang Street is finish moment of this walking tour. Although there are still some old quarters we haven’t looked at like Hang Ngang, Hang Dao or Hang Ma Street, passengers are suggested to save them for the night trip because Hanoi at night is the most fantastic on its well-known Quarters, when the bustling trading stores giving their seats to street-food courts and souvenirs stalls, adorned by twinkling red lanterns on Hang Ma Street.