When you think of Hanoi, do you immediately think of the traditional old quarters that preserve the unique cultural characteristics of the Vietnamese people in the past? Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a peaceful enclave nestled within the bustling and lively capital city. It possesses a timeless beauty that has endured through the years, making it unforgettable for many travelers. Would you like to know what that beauty is? Let’s find out together with VnCarRentals.com’s!
General Introduction to Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
The area of Hanoi’s Old Quarter is located to the west and north of Hoan Kiem Lake. Hanoi’s Old Quarter has been famous for centuries with its 36 streets, each bearing interesting names such as Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Hang Tre, Hang Chieu, Hang Duong, Hang Bac, Hang Gai, and more. Each name is associated with the specific goods and products that were traditionally sold on these streets.
The Old Quarter covers a total area of about 76 hectares. It has been a bustling and vibrant trading hub for Hanoians from ancient times to the present. Moreover, this area also preserves and authentically represents the cultural and historical values of the capital’s residents. So, don’t forget to explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter when you visit, as it holds many fascinating discoveries.
The History of the Formation of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter covers an area of only about 100 hectares, with 10 wards and 76 streets. However, as soon as you set foot here, you will feel like you have been transported back to the centuries of ancient Hanoi, reflecting to some extent the tapestry of life of the land and people of old Hanoi. For this reason, the Old Quarter has become a valuable asset that local authorities preserve and conserve to this day.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter was formed during the Ly and Tran dynasties, which is around the 11th century. It used to be the trading area of the ancient capital of Thang Long. The houses in the Old Quarter were built in a classical architectural style, sharing common features such as sloping tile roofs, narrow tube houses, and a prevalent yellow paint color scheme.
How to Get to Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
So, how do you get to Hanoi’s Old Quarter? There are various modes of transportation that tourists can choose from, such as motorbikes, taxis, and buses. Depending on your starting point, preferences, and needs, you can choose the most suitable mode of transportation for yourself.
If you want a quick and convenient option, you can take a taxi. Just specify the exact destination you want to reach, and the taxi driver will take you there promptly. However, this option can be a bit more expensive. A helpful tip is that you can use GrabCar for a cheaper fare compared to regular taxis.
Additionally, you can rent a car with a driver in HaNoi from #VnCarRentals, which is a great choice for larger groups, seniors, and families with children. Our private transportation services offer comfort and safety. With our professional drivers, who have years of experience serving international tourists and extensive knowledge of Hanoi’s roads, you can quickly reach Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
If you prefer to experience Hanoi’s streets and explore every nook and cranny of the city on your own, renting a motorbike is a suitable option. The rental price for a motorbike typically ranges from 120,000 VND to 180,000 VND, depending on the type of bike and the rental location.
To save even more, you can take a bus to travel to Hanoi’s Old Quarter. This mode of transportation is both economical and leisurely. You can sit on the bus and enjoy the sights and the daily life of Hanoi’s residents. Some bus routes that pass through the Old Quarter include:
- Bus routes 09, 14, and 36 will take you to the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake.
- Bus routes 03, 11, 14, 22, 18, 34, and 40 stop at O Quan Chuong Bus Station and 81 Tran Nhat Duat Street.
- Bus route 31 goes to Dong Xuan Market.
- Bus route 31 stops at 22c Hang Luoc Street.
Must-Visit Tourist Destinations in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Hoan Kiem Lake.
The first tourist destination in Hanoi that you absolutely must visit in the Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword). It can be said that this is the heart of the thousand-year-old capital. Hoan Kiem Lake features emerald-green waters, surrounded by rows of trees casting their shadows onto the water’s surface, creating a truly romantic scene.
The area around the lake also includes landmarks like the Turtle Tower, the Pen Tower, the Huc Bridge, and the Ngoc Son Temple. Moreover, Hoan Kiem Lake is closely linked to the legend of the Sword-Restoring Turtle. All of these elements blend together to create a magnificent and historically meaningful scenic spot.
Especially, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, there is a pedestrian street event around the lake, featuring various enjoyable activities such as night markets, live music performances, and traditional games. If you have the opportunity to visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a weekend, be sure to check it out.
O Quan Chuong
O Quan Chuong in Hanoi is located at the intersection of Hang Chieu and Dao Duy Tu streets. It is considered one of the long-standing symbols that has witnessed many glorious years of the nation. O Quan Chuong was built in 1749, about 80 meters from the Red River, and served as a place for trading activities between various large and small markets.
O Quan Chuong is constructed in an archway structure with a height of about 3 meters, featuring three doors, including one main door in the center and two side doors. Right at the main door, there is a stone tablet inscribed with orders prohibiting the gatekeepers from causing disturbances to the people passing by, issued by Governor Hoang Dieu.
The bricks used to build O Quan Chuong bear many similarities to those used in the construction of the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam). These are large-sized rectangular bricks combined with stone, making them extremely durable. This is likely one of the reasons why O Quan Chuong has stood the test of time until today.
Ma May Ancient House.
- Address: 87 Ma May Street, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 08:00 AM – 08:00 PM
- Entrance fee: 10,000 VND per person.
This is a famous tourist spot in Hanoi, attracting many visitors. This ancient house was built around the late 19th century and changed owners many times. The house has a total area of 157.6 square meters, with a land length of 28 meters and a frontage of 5 meters. It was built perpendicular to the street.
Visiting this house, tourists can admire the unique and distinctly Hanoi-style architecture. Additionally, you will gain a deeper understanding of the daily life of Hanoi’s residents in the past. Perhaps a miniature old Hanoi will come to life within you through the stories and objects found in this house.
Bach Ma Temple.
- Address: 76 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 09:00 AM – 05:30 PM.
The next attraction to visit when touring Hanoi’s Old Quarter and one that is appealing to many tourists is Bach Ma Temple. This temple is one of the four guardian temples of the ancient Thang Long Imperial Citadel, built in the 9th century. It is an important cultural and spiritual architectural work for Hanoi residents.
The majority of the temple is constructed from ironwood and features intricate and exquisite wood carvings, bearing the distinctive Nguyen Dynasty architectural style. Visitors will have the opportunity to admire the beauty of the temple and pray for fortune and peace for their families and loved ones.
Dong Xuan Market.
- Address: 15 Cau Dong Street, Dong Xuan Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 06:00 AM – 06:00 PM.
This is the oldest market in Hanoi, built in 1889 by the French. The market offers a wide range of goods, including clothing, food, and household items. As it is a wholesale market, if you buy in large quantities, you can get a fairly good price. Besides shopping, a visit to Dong Xuan Market will also provide tourists with insights into the culture of trade and commerce in this area.
Pho Hang Ma.
Hang Ma Street is located 700 meters from Hoan Kiem Lake and about 1 kilometer from Dong Xuan Market. It intersects with Hang Duong, Hang Chieu, Hang Ngang, and Phung Hung Street. Hang Ma Street used to specialize in producing and trading paper goods such as votive paper, decorations for major festivals.
Due to its prime location near Hoan Kiem Lake and Dong Xuan Market, Hang Ma Street has long been a shopping and entertainment hub for generations of Hanoi’s youth. Nowadays, Hang Ma Street offers a wider range of products, making it a suitable place to find decorations for holidays, Tet (Lunar New Year), and weddings.
During traditional holidays, Hang Ma Street is like a new world, adorned with vibrant red colors, lanterns, decorative lights, and cherry blossoms. It is an ideal spot for many Hanoi residents to take photos during significant Vietnamese festivals.
Ta Hien Street.
Ta Hien Street is known as the “sleepless street” in the heart of Hanoi, with a length of nearly 270 meters. It is a focal point that captures the attention of every traveler passing through. During the French colonial period, this street was closely associated with the Quang Lac theater and famous traditional Vietnamese opera performances.
Today, Ta Hien Street attracts tourists because it combines modern beauty with a touch of Hanoi’s nostalgia. The street comes alive in the evening when the bars and eateries open their doors, and travelers from all directions flock here, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere.
See More: Explore St. Joseph Cathedral – one of the 7 largest cathedrals in the capital city of Hanoi.
What to Eat When Traveling in Hanoi’s Old Quarter?
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is not only filled with enticing attractions but is also a culinary paradise that will surely captivate every traveler. There is a wide variety of food available, but knowing what to eat and where to eat it “like a true Hanoian” is not something everyone is familiar with.
Below, VnCarRentals.com will suggest some local culinary specialties that you definitely should try when traveling in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Rest assured, the food here will leave you craving for more!
- Bun Cha Hang Quat: Alley 74 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bun Thang Cau Go: 48 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bun Oc in Dong Xuan Market Alley: Dong Xuan Market Alley, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Cha Ca La Vong: 14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Pho Bat Dan: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Pho Ly Quoc Su: 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Nom in Ham Long Street: 25 Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Four-Season Che Hang Can: No. 4 Hang Can, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Lemon Tea at the Church Square
- Cafe Giang: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
In general, Hanoi’s dishes are rich in flavor, meticulously prepared, and have their own distinct characteristics. The prices of these dishes are not excessively high, and the quality is sure to leave you satisfied.
What to Buy When Traveling in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
When traveling in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, you can also combine shopping for gifts for your family and friends. This area is home to many famous local specialties, so you’ll have plenty of choices. Here are some meaningful Hanoi-flavored gifts that travelers can consider:
- Hong Lam Preserved Fruits: 11 Hang Duong, Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Uoc Le Pork Sausage: No. 9 Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Com (young rice flakes) and Banh Phu The (husband-and-wife cake) from Hang Than Street: No. 11 Hang Than, Nguyen Trung Truc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Sen Tran Preserves: No. 11 Hang Duong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Roasted Peanuts with Húng Lìu Flavor from Ba Trieu Street: 176 Ba Trieu, Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
- Cha Cake: 22 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Some Tips for Traveling in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Additionally, when traveling in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, you should also keep in mind the following points for a smooth and enjoyable trip:
- Maintain public hygiene, and avoid littering as it can affect the overall environment.
- When buying items or dining, it’s advisable to ask for prices in advance to avoid overpricing. Especially, try to avoid shopping early in the morning, as some shop owners may not be in the best mood if you only inquire about prices without making a purchase.
- Don’t forget to carry essential items such as your phone, ATM card, cash, etc., with you when you go out.
One-Day Itinerary Suggestions for Exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter
- Have breakfast in the area near Dong Xuan Market.
- Visit the following attractions: Dong Xuan Market, O Quan Chuong (the Old City Gate), Bach Ma Temple, Kim Ngan Temple.
- Enjoy lunch in the Hang Buom area.
- Afterward, you can relax and have a coffee break.
- Explore Hoan Kiem Lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple.
- Take some time to capture memorable photos.
- Next, you can embark on a mini street food tour to savor local snacks on the streets around the lake, such as Dinh Liet, Hang Trong, and Nha Tho.
- Have dinner.
- Then, explore the bustling streets of Hang Ngang and Hang Dao at night.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a must-visit destination when traveling to Hanoi if you want to admire and learn more about the life and culture of ancient Hanoians. Over the years, Hanoi’s Old Quarter has preserved its timeless charm, and hopefully, through this article, VnCarRentals.com’s has helped you experience a part of that tranquility.