The historic centre of Hanoi, this maze of streets offers the city’s most traditional food, best souvenir shopping and lively nighttime entertainment.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a maze of traditional streets in the oldest part of the Vietnamese capital. The district is a unique mix of European and Asian architecture and culture, and is the most iconic neighbourhood in Hanoi. You can visit the bustling hub any time of day, or base yourself in one of its many hotels. Find cultural venues, cafés, shops and typical Vietnamese restaurants all in the one place.
Prior to French colonialism in Vietnam, the city of Hanoi contained only 36 streets. The city has since expanded dramatically; however, the original quarter remained the heart of Hanoi. Today, many of Hanoi’s major attractions can be found in the Old Quarter. These include the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Lake Hoan Kiem, with its temple and picturesque bridge.
Listen to the calls of of hawkers, wearing conical hats made from leaves, balancing baskets on their shoulders. Breathe in the smell of exotic food and try the dishes and cooled drinks that hawkers sell on the road. Try Bia Hoi, Vietnam’s traditional home-made brew on Ta Hien, a street famous for beer venues and specialist craft shops. At night, visit the lively bars or enjoy traditional North Vietnamese food at one of the restaurants.
Stay alert for passing traffic when you walk the crowded streets, as there don’t seem to be clear road rules here. Browse the Night Markets at weekend nights, or make your way into the Dong Xuan market hall during the week. For souvenirs, such as conical Vietnamese hats or personalised carved stamps, visit the craft shops that line the streets in the Old Quarter.
Hanoi’s central Old Quarter is an excellent place to stay and there are many leading hotels and hostels, suiting all budgets.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is just north of Lake Hoan Kiem. The area is served by a number of bus lines, but the district is small enough to traverse on foot.