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What To See In Hanoi Old Quarter In One Day?

Hanoi Old Quarter, also known as Hanoi 36 streets is the soul of Hanoi, a destination not to be missed for tourists who love and want to explore Vietnamese culture. With this article, Autour Asia will share so you can have more useful information for your upcoming trip to Vietnam.

I. Introduction general about Hanoi Old Quarter

1. Where is the Old Quarter?

Nestled alongside the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, amid the timeless Long Bien Bridge, weathered city walls, and a commanding citadel, Hanoi Old Quarter unfurls as a captivating mosaic steeped in Vietnamese legacy. This bustling network of 36 interlinked streets breathes the vibrant soul of the city's cultural heritage. Within this labyrinth, a thriving community of artisans, traders, and proprietors proudly upholds Hanoi's rich traditions. What sets this quarter apart is its unique nomenclature - each street bears the prefix "Hang," signifying a connection to commerce. Remarkably, every street specialises in goods and wares aligned with its name, offering an immersive journey through specialised products and local treasures.

Hanoi Old Quarter's location

2. History of this Vietnam’s heritage

The origins of Hanoi 36 streets can be traced back to the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), when King Lý Thái Tổ relocated the capital of Vietnam from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (Hanoi's ancient name). The city quickly grew and developed, becoming a centre of commerce and trade. The Old Quarter, located on the banks of the Red River, was home to merchants and artisans from all over Vietnam, who specialised in a variety of crafts, including silk weaving, pottery, and metalworking.

During the French colonial period (1887-1954), Hanoi Old Town underwent significant changes. The French authorities imposed their architectural style on the city, constructing wide boulevards and modern buildings. However, the Old Quarter largely retained its traditional character, with its narrow streets, shophouses, and temples. The French also introduced new industries to Hanoi, such as textiles and printing, which further contributed to the city's economic growth. After Vietnam gained independence from France in 1954, Hanoi Old Quarter continued to thrive as a commercial and cultural hub. The city's traditional crafts and trades were revived, and new businesses emerged. The Old Quarter also became a centre for resistance against the American War in Vietnam, with many residents providing support to the Viet Cong.

Hanoi Old Quarter in French colonial period

Today, Hanoi 36 streets is a vibrant and most sought after destination. Visitors come from all over the world to experience the city's unique atmosphere, explore its historic sites, and sample its delicious street food. The Old Quarter is also home to a growing number of art galleries, cafes, and restaurants, reflecting Hanoi's dynamic and evolving culture.

3. How to get there?

To reach this captivating destination, you can choose from a variety of transportation options, each offering its unique advantages:

a. Motorbikes and Taxis

  • For quick and convenient transportation to Hanoi Old Town, consider motorbike taxis or taxis. Motorbike taxis (xe ôm) are widely available and offer affordable rides. Taxis provide a comfortable travel experience.
  • Grab App: Book taxis seamlessly using the Grab app, similar to Uber. Install the app, create an account, and enjoy easy bookings.
  • SM Green Electric Taxi: Opt for eco-friendly SM Green Electric Taxi. Install their app or call (+84) 19002088 for a ride. Their fares are relatively cheaper than other taxi services in Vietnam.

For a clean, safe, and comfortable travel experience, consider the Hanoi Metro. With one line extending from Ha Dong to Cat Linh station in Dong Da district, covering approximately 13 kilometres, the metro offers a convenient and modern mode of transportation.

Hanoi boasts a well-connected network of buses and green electric buses, providing comprehensive coverage throughout the city. Choose from a variety of routes to reach your desired destination, enjoying a reliable and affordable transportation option.

1. Hoan Kiem Lake et Ngoc Son temple

Hoan Kiem Lake is a Hanoi landmark, considered the heart of Hanoi's capital. home to Ngoc Son Temple, a 19th-century Taoist temple dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a Vietnamese general. The temple is located on an island in the lake and is accessible by boat or Huc Bridge. It features Vietnamese architecture, green tiles, and wooden walls. Visitors can enjoy the lake's beauty, learn about Vietnamese history, and pay respects to Tran Hung Dao.
Hoan Kiem Lake

Ngoc Son Temple

2. Dong Xuan Market

Dong Xuan Market is the largest market in Hanoi, located in the centre of the Hanoi Old Quarter, built in 1889 and is one of the city's most famous tourist destinations. Dong Xuan Market has an area of over 25,000 m2, with over 2,000 stalls selling all kinds of items, from clothing and electronics to souvenirs and food. The market is always crowded and bustling, making it an ideal shopping destination for tourists. This is a great place to find souvenirs, clothing, electronics and food at affordable prices. Experience markets are also great places to experience Vietnamese shopping culture.
Dong Xuan Market

3. Bach Ma Temple

Bach Ma Temple is an ancient temple located in the centre of Hanoi Old Town, Vietnam. The temple was built in the 9th century to worship the god Long Do, a revered deity in Hanoi. Bach Ma Temple has the typical architecture of Vietnamese temples, with red tile roofs, wooden columns, and brick walls. Inside the temple, there are many worship statues, including the statue of Long Do god placed in the centre. Bach Ma Temple is an ancient, sacred temple imbued with Vietnamese cultural identity. It is also a sacred place for Hanoi people and an attractive destination for domestic and foreign tourists. Every year, during the Lunar New Year, people often go to the temple to pray for a peaceful and lucky new year.
Bach Ma Temple

4. Ta Hien Street

For nighttime activities, tourists can stop in Ta Hien Street, a vibrant hub of food, drinks, and entertainment in the heart of Hanoi to have some fresh beer and socialise with locals and friends. This beer street is frequently open from the early afternoon until almost 2 am the following day. In addition to sipping some beer with your friends and experiencing the local nightlife, tourists also can visit some crowded bars nearby. The unique experience offered by Ta Hien Beer Street is a must-try for anyone who wants to discover Hanoi in a colourful way.
Ta Hien Street

Maybe you are interested: Top best places to visit in Hanoi

III. What to eat in the ancient town of Hanoi?

Immerse yourself in Hanoi's culinary haven, where iconic street food staples and refined restaurant fare await. Embark on an unforgettable gastronomic adventure and savour these must-try dishes:

1. Pho

The quintessential Vietnamese noodle soup, phở is a symphony of flavours and aromas.Start your day with a steaming bowl of phở, a quintessential Vietnamese noodle soup that embodies the nation's culinary heritage. The rich broth, tender meat or chicken, and fresh herbs create a symphony of flavours that will warm your soul. Delicate rice noodles are bathed in a fragrant broth, typically made from beef or chicken, and topped with thinly sliced meat, herbs, and spices. Each bowl is a comforting and satisfying meal, showcasing the simplicity and elegance of Vietnamese cuisine.
Pho in Hanoi Old Quarter

2. Bun Cha

One of the must-see delicious dishes in Hanoi Old Quarter is Bun Cha. With a 1-0-2 culinary duo of grilled meat and vermicelli, bun cha is a favourite dish of the locals. The pork patties are marinated in a blend of spices and grilled to perfection, while the vermicelli noodles are refreshingly light and airy. The dish comes with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chilli, adding a zesty and tangy touch. For a hearty and satisfying meal, indulge in bún chả, a grilled pork dish served with vermicelli noodles, dipping sauce, and fresh herbs. The smoky flavours of the grilled pork mingle perfectly with the sweetness of the dipping sauce, creating a delightful contrast.
Bun Cha in the Old Quarter

3. Street Food

Hanoi street food is a typical cultural feature of the city, an indispensable part of the lives of local people and tourists. The street food here has a strong traditional Vietnamese flavour, with fresh ingredients and simple but extremely sophisticated preparation. Hanoi street food is always popular because of its delicious taste, affordable price and rich diversity. Spending time exploring delicious street food is a great way to learn about Vietnamese culture and cuisine. You can find countless attractive dishes, from familiar dishes such as pho, bun cha, banh mi to strange dishes such as banh chuoi, banh xeo, khoai tay chien, nem nuong, oc luoc...
Street food in Hanoi

IV. Top useful tips for your trip to the ancient town of Hanoi

  • Currency Exchange: The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnam Dong. Look for Currency Exchange stations in tourist areas or city centres to exchange your money. Doing so within Vietnam usually provides better rates compared to exchanging abroad.

  • Crossing the road: Because Hanoi's streets are very bustling and there are many vehicles, no run & just walk slowly, keep your eyes to the left and right and walk slowly. No run or you will be hit by motorbikes and cars.

  • Respect the locals and their culture & environment. This includes dressing appropriately asking permission before taking photos, and not littering or damaging the property of the locals

Hanoi Old Quarter is a place of immense historical and cultural significance. It is a living testament to Vietnam's rich heritage, and it continues to play an important role in the city's identity. This is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the true spirit of Hanoi, Vietnam.
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