Hanoi Old Quarter has been often chosen as the first stop to come in every trip to Hanoi by many tourists. It serves as both the city center and a place to preserve the heroic architecture, culture and historical relics of Hanoi 36 old streets.
In this article, Hanoi Explore Travel will share with you the most detailed travel experiences in Hanoi Old Quarter. Let’s discover together right here!
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Things to See in Hanoi Old Quarter
- 2 What to do in Hanoi Old Quarter
- 3 What to do at night
- 4 What to eat & Where to eat in Hanoi Old Quarter?
- 4.1 The Alley of Dong Xuan market
- 4.2 Bun Cha (Rice noodle soup with grilled pork)
- 4.3 Pho ga tron (Mixed Pho with chicken)
- 4.4 Pho bo (Beef Pho)
- 4.5 Bun Thang in Cau Go street (Hanoi rice noodle soup with chicken, eggs and pork)
- 4.6 Bun oc (Rice noodles with snails)
- 4.7 Oc luoc (Boiled snails)
- 4.8 Stir-fried pig’s tripes and stir-fried Pho (rice noodles)
- 4.9 Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
- 4.10 Banh trang tron (mixed rice paper)
- 4.11 Cha Ca La Vong (fried crispy turmeric-marinated fish with herbs) – A famous delicious dish in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
- 4.12 Barbecued beef on Ma May street
- 4.13 Bia hoi (Fresh Beer)
- 4.14 Other “Snack”
- 5 Experience Shopping in the Old Quarter
- 6 Suggested itinerary to visit the Old Quarter in one day
Best Things to See in Hanoi Old Quarter
If you are wondering which attractions in Hanoi Old Quarter are worth spending time visiting and exploring, don’t worry! This section will be your light at the end of the tunnel.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Located in the city center, Hoan Kiem Lake is considered as the heart of Hanoi. This place also served as a spiritual historical legacy because it is related to a Vietnamese legend, that the King Le Loi returned sword to turtle god after beating the enemy. Numerous tourists visit the lake every day to learn about the daily life of the locals and take in the breezy atmosphere day and night.
Coming here, tourists can visit a number of works with diverse and unique architecture featuring East Asia as well as French style such as The Huc Bridge, Ngoc Son Temple, Turtle Tower, Hoa Phong Tower, Hanoi Post Office, French Old Quarter,…
Ngoc Son Temple
Located in Ngoc Island of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple worships Van Xuong and Duc Thanh Tran God. To enter the temple, tourists must go through a red bridge named The Huc bridge. The Ngoc Son Temple complex is ranked as a special national monument in Vietnam. Here you will learn about the legend of Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) or the history of Hanoi.
Hanoi Post Office
Located opposite Hoan Kiem Lake, this is the first building of the Hanoi Post Office built by the French in 1884. Over the years of additional construction in 1943 and new construction in 1976, Hanoi Post Office has kept its original architecture of 5 modern floors with facade running along Hoan Kiem lake. Along with a large clock at the top of the building, Hanoi Post Office is a famous place that is given a familiar name “Bo Ho Post Office” by the locals.
Ly Thai To Flower Garden
It was completed on October 7, 2004 to celebrate 50 years of Hanoi’s liberation and 1000 years of capital relocation into Thang Long (old name of Hanoi). There is a bronze statue of King Ly Thai To weighing 32 tons, 10.10m high. The monument is a cultural and architectural work, to honor King Ly Thai To (974-1028), the founder of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and created the land with thousands of years of civilization. Ly Thai To flower garden is a place where not only locals but also tourists come to visit and have fun every day.
Dong Xuan Market
Established in 1889, Dong Xuan market is the oldest and most famous market in the Hanoi Old Quarter. It offers a wide variety of products such as clothes, shoes, confectionery, toys, fabrics, souvenirs and food,…
When dropping by the market, don’t miss visiting the alley located right next to the Dong Xuan market. There are a lot of popular eateries with the most famous dishes of the capital. It is definitely an interesting experience for those who want to explore and taste Hanoi cuisine.
Especially, coming to the market on the evenings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you will have a chance to visit the night market here. This is a miniature corner of the bustling life in Hanoi’s nights.
Hang Ma street
Situated in the Old Quarter, Hang Ma street is considered to be the busiest and most brilliant of the 36 ancient streets in Hanoi. Famous for its traditional craft of making votive papers for ritual offerings and paper decorations, this place is regarded as a heaven for traditional items bearing the stamp of old folk. Visiting Hang Ma Street on every holiday, you will be impressed by the colorful, shimmering and fanciful spaces from decorative lights featuring each different holiday.
Quan Chuong Gate
This gate was built in 1749, under the reign of King Le Hien Tong. Located in the east of Thang Long citadel, Quan Chuong Gate is one of the five remaining gates of the ancient Thang Long citadel to this day.
For those who want to explore an Asian architectural work and learn about Vietnam history, it is undoubtedly the ideal place to come.
Ma May Ancient House
If you want to see the living space of Hanoian and the characteristics of an ancient street, you shouldn’t miss the ancient house at No.87, Ma May street. This place is currently one of the most attractive tourist sites that attract a lot of tourists to visit. If you’re fortunate enough to visit on a few special occasions, you’ll have the chance to take in ethnic music like ca tru singing.
Bach Ma Temple
Located at No.76 – 78, Hang Buom street, Bach Ma temple was built in the 9th century. As a thousand-of-year-old cultural and historical relic, the temple is covered with a mossy coat, which enhances the nostalgic, old-fashioned beauty. The temple is believed to be a sacred place, so it has attracted many locals and tourists to visit and pray for many years.
Long Bien Bridge
Long Bien Bridge is the first steel bridge in Vietnam which was built by the French in 1898. As witnessing the two wars of resistance against the French and the US, the bridge is considered as a timeless symbol witnessing hard war memories that cannot be erased.
The bridge joining two sides of the Red River is 2290 meter in length, with 3 lanes for railways and for motor vehicles. Long Bien Bridge is used for not only transportation but also preservation of historical memories.
Ta Hien Street
This street is renowned for its nightlife and busiest culinary activities in Hanoi. It is also known as an “international crossroad” by tourists and always named on the list of must-visit places when visiting Hanoi.
Though it is a small street, Ta Hien street is always crowded with tourists who come to enjoy, entertain and sip beer on the sidewalk. In addition, it is impossible not to mention lively bars and pubs here.
What to do in Hanoi Old Quarter
Discover traditional craft villages
The Old Quarter has a lot of traditional craft villages preserved in many streets such as Hang Ma, Hang Thiec, Thuoc Bac, Hang Tre streets,…Tourists can visit to buy and learn more about these products by asking the seller about the origin and the development history of these craft villages.
Take check-in photos on streets of the old quarter
Once entering Hanoi Old Quarter, tourists will be impressed by a unique background of each corner, each alley and the walls stained with the color of time. You only need to stand against the wall or “pretend” to drop by the street, then you will easily capture many cool pictures.
Take part in activities on the walking street
Tourists also have a chance to take a walk or take part in many activities on the walking street around the Hoan Kiem Lake. Usually on the weekend, there are some music and dance programs and other outdoor games that tourists can join.
Enjoy delicious street food
Not only famous for many tourist attractions, Hanoi Old Quarter also attracts tourists with its diverse cuisine. Nothing better than enjoying a bowl of delicious bun cha (rice noodle with grilled pork) or a bowl of famous pho bo (rice noodle soup with beef) after taking a stroll around Hanoi streets. Then, you can sip a cup of coffee or lemonade, or even drink some cups of beer.
In addition, if you still don’t have any detailed itinerary to explore street food by your own, let’s experience Hanoi Street Food Walking Tour, a special itinerary with professional guide that can help you learn more about the history of the food as well as taste the most delicious food in the best eateries of the Old Quarter.
Enjoy corner coffee
Come to the Hanoi Old Quarter , you can find the famous Vietnamese coffee in the most amazing places – with just a plastic tool on the humble sidewalk, you can enjoy your very own Vietnamese coffee culture.
A sidewalk coffee can be found almost everywhere in Hanoi Old Quarter. Just take a short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, you can find one in no time. Make enjoying sidewalk cafés a part of your nightlife tour around Hanoi and you won’t be disappointed.
Watch water puppet show at Thang Long theater
Thang Long water puppet theater has been an ideal cultural destination as well as a unique spiritual program for visitors.
Over the years with many improvements, the theater is currently equipped with modern facilities, ready to serve 300 guests each show.
With the operation around the year, Thang Long water puppet theater attracts many tourists to discover the quintessence of Vietnamese culture everyday.
Explore the Old Quarter by a cyclo
Sitting on a cyclo to explore and enjoy the scenery of Hanoi Old Quarter is an interesting thing that all tourists should not miss. This experience brings new and interesting moments that help you get closer to the rhythm of Hanoi life and culture.
The tinkling sound of cyclo has been attached to the lives of Hanoians since the early years of the XX century.
The image of cyclo riders has contributed to the culture and traditional lifestyle of the beautiful Hanoi Old Quarter.
What to do at night
Experience the vibrant space in Ta Hien Street
Dubbed the “street that never sleeps” in the heart of the capital, Ta Hien street is one of the famous entertainment places. When night falls, this street begins to light up and quickly becomes vibrant and bustling with the busy flow of people and the music of the bars. You can go alone, in a group of friends or gather with your family at any restaurant to drink beer as well as enjoy food and the Hanoi nightlife…
Explore Hanoi Old Quarter at night
It is still said that Hanoi Old Quarter is the most beautiful at night. At this time, the rhythm of life is no longer as busy as during the day. Except for the brilliant lights, everything appears to slow down in the dark. Take a walk around to see the streets, visit the crowded shops or find a corner for a cup of coffee to observe the Old Quarter are undoubtedly very interesting to experience.
Visit night market on Hang Dao Street
The night market has nearly 4000 stalls with hundreds of items, ranging from clothes, shoes, to souvenirs, handcrafts, with average prices. However, before shopping for something, you should consult the price first and maybe bargain a bit if you feel the price is a bit higher compared to their value. Tourists can also find a lot of street food as well as enjoy special street music programs here.
What to eat & Where to eat in Hanoi Old Quarter?
Coming here, tourists should not miss savoring the delicious cuisine that can be named on a long list of famous and traditional dishes with bold characteristics of the land – Ha Thanh (the old name of Hanoi). Below Hanoi Explore Travel will introduce you to some of the most popular eateries in the Old Quarter:
The Alley of Dong Xuan market
Right next to Dong Xuan market, the alley has become a popular eating place for many tourists. It is home to many eateries of irresistible street foods such as bun rieu (rice noodle soup with paddy crab’s paste), bun cha kep que tre (rice noodles with grilled pork), pho, chao suon (porridge with pork ribs), mien luon (glass noodle soup with swamp eel), banh tom (shrimp cake), and che (different kinds of sweet desserts),… Trying food in this alley is definitely an interesting experience for those who want to explore Hanoi cuisine.
Bun Cha (Rice noodle soup with grilled pork)
This rustic Hanoi delicacy has made countless diners fall for its delicious, attractive, aromatic flavor. The white rice noodles are dipped in sweet and sour sauce served with grilled pork and fresh green vegetables, which will surely conquer even the most demanding guests.
- Price: From 30000 VND to 60000 VND
- Bún chả Hàng Quạt. Address: 74 Hang Quat Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi
- Bún chả Cửa Đông. Address: 41 Cua Dong Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi
- Bún chả Đắc Kim. Address: 01 Hang Manh Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi
- Bún chả Hàng Buồm. Address: 43 Hang Buom Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi
Pho ga tron (Mixed Pho with chicken)
Mixed pho is not a new dish but always has a charm for foodies in Hanoi. Mixed pho with chicken has lots of chicken, vegetables, and peanuts. When eating, there will be a separate bowl of hot broth to serve with the dish but not always adding broth like other types of noodle soup.
Pho bo (Beef Pho)
Hanoi beef Pho stands out with its sweet and fragrant beef taste, the sweet, clear, and flavorful broth, eaten with chewy noodles, and some herbs… Once you eat this speciality, it is sure that you can’t forget its taste.
>>> Get yourself the best Hanoi Street Food Tour ever!
Bun Thang in Cau Go street (Hanoi rice noodle soup with chicken, eggs and pork)
Bun Thang, a traditional dish of Hanoi households, is one of the delicate dishes of Ha Thanh cuisine. With long cooking experience and ingenuity, the owners here have made extremely delicious bun thang’s broth which is clear, sweet, and rich in the taste of shrimp.
Bun oc (Rice noodles with snails)
A small alley just a few hundred meters long, located on the side of Dong Xuan market, attracts thousands of visitors every day because of hundreds of Vietnamese dishes.
Rice noodle with snails has a sour and spicy taste with many side dishes including pickled bamboo shoots, fried tofu… Bun oc can be eaten with hot broth or dipping sauce, served with green vegetables.. Eating bun oc with dipping sauce is suitable for summer.
Oc luoc (Boiled snails)
Many tourists choose boiled snails to enjoy during their visit to Hanoi Old Quarter. The hot dishes of snails give off a fragrant aroma as if enticing passersby when they accidentally pass by here. Especially on cold days, enjoying hot snails dipped with sour and spicy dipping sauce is really a good idea.
Stir-fried pig’s tripes and stir-fried Pho (rice noodles)
Stir-fried Pho and stir-fried pig’s tripes on Nguyen Sieu street are something unique and novel in the cuisine of Hanoi’s old quarter. Just stopping at the beginning of the street, you have to sniffle by the featuring and attractive aroma of the dish. Stir-fried pho served with stir-fried pig’s tripes, a little soy sauce and sweet and sour cucumber is so great.
Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
As a famous specialty of Vietnam for a long time, there are currently many distinctive traditional and modern banh mi shops. Banh mi can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snack.
Banh trang tron (mixed rice paper)
Rice paper dish has lots of fillings including rice paper, quail eggs, dried beef, and julienne green mango. Normally, there will be 3 types of rice paper: mixed rice paper, rolled rice paper and buttered rice paper.
Mixed rice paper is also rich in dried beef. The slightly chewy rice paper is mixed with the sour julienne mango, the sweet and sour taste of the sauce, the crispy and fragrant taste of peanuts and fried onions, the aroma of herbs, and the sweet and spicy taste of dried beef.
Cha Ca La Vong (fried crispy turmeric-marinated fish with herbs) – A famous delicious dish in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Dating back more than 130 years ago, Cha Ca La Vong has been one of the delicious eateries in the old quarter that you should visit once to enjoy. The sweet and fatty taste of fried crispy turmeric-marinated fish mixed with the aroma of vegetables and shrimp paste will surely make you want to eat forever.
Barbecued beef on Ma May street
Just by walking along Ma May street, you will easily find an eatery with staff wearing uniform professionally and delicious aroma of beef grilled on the fire. The beef plates here are quite large and well seasoned.
Bia hoi (Fresh Beer)
For a long time, drinking fresh beer has become a unique culinary culture of the people of the capital. The locals find enjoying a distinctive glass cup of Hanoi fresh beer as a good way to relax after a hard working day.
Trang Tien ice cream
Like Hanoi Pho, Trang Tien ice cream is a famous specialty of the capital that you definitely should not miss. During your trip to the Old Quarter, let’s visit No.35 Trang Tien Street to enjoy the cool delicious popsicles and ice cream cones with flavors of chocolate, coconut milk, and nuggets.
Mixed fresh fruits on To Tich street
When it comes to mixed fruits, the locals will immediately think of To Tich Street. After walking around Hoan Kiem Lake or the Old Quarter, nothing better than stopping here and enjoying a glass of mixed fresh fruits.
Nom bo kho (Dried beef salad) near Hoan Kiem Lake
As a famous Hanoi snack near Hoan Kiem Lake, dried beef salad is an extremely easy-to-eat dish that you should enjoy with friends after walking around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter.
Fried fermented pork rolls in Tam Thuong alley
Dubbed the paradise of fried fermented pork rolls, Tam Thuong alley is always crowded. The fried fermented pork rolls here are fried crispy and displayed on trays lined with banana leaves, served with cucumbers, green mangoes, and jicama, so they are not as greasy as in many other places.
Experience Shopping in the Old Quarter
- Tourists can visit the night market, Dong Xuan market and other streets such as Hang Bac, Hang Ngang, Hang Dao streets to buy handcrafts, souvenirs, clothes, shoes, silver jewelry and diverse types of “o mai” (the sweet and salty dried fruits or jams).
- A small tip for you is you should go shopping in the afternoon to choose items easily and freely.
- If you want to go shopping in the night market, you can only wait until Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, from 6 p.m to 11 p.m. The market provides a wide variety of items such as clothes, shoes, handcrafts, souvenirs and so on, all at an affordable price.
Suggested itinerary to visit the Old Quarter in one day
>>> Check out more detailed for a memorable Hanoi City Tour Including Old Quarter!
With many tourist and shopping attractions and eateries mentioned above, you will have many ways to schedule a visit to the Old Quarter that best suits your time. Here we would like to share the schedule to visit the Old Town in 1 day based on the actual trip experience as follows:
- 8:00 a.m: Go to Dong Xuan alley on Hang Chieu street to have breakfast
- 8:30 a.m: Visit Dong Xuan market, the oldest market in Hanoi
- 9:00 a.m: Visit Quan Chuong Gate at the beginning of Hang Chieu street
- 9:30 a.m: Visit Bach Ma Temple
- 10:15 a.m: Visit ancient house at no.87, Ma May street
- 11:00 a.m: Visit Kim Ngan communal house at no.42-44, Hang Bac street
- Then, take a mini food tour in the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake such as Dinh Liet, Hang Trong, Nha Tho,…
- 2:00 p.m: Visit Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, But Tower
- 3:00 p.m: Buy tickets to enjoy water puppet show at Thang Long water puppet theater, watch art shows at Hanoi Opera House or walk around walking streets around Hoan Kiem Lake on the weekend
- 4:40 p.m: Enjoy Hanoi fresh beer in Ta Hien street or have a cup of Vietnamese coffee
- 6:00 p.m: Buy souvenirs for family and friends
- 7:00 p.m: Taste “Cha ca” (fried crispy turmeric-marinated fish) on Duong Thanh street or stir-fried Pho on Nguyen Sieu street
- 8:00 p.m: Take a walk around Hoan Kiem lake and the Old Quarter to enjoy the beauty at night. If on the weekend, visit night market along Hang Ngang, Hang Dao streets
Tourist attractions in combination with the Old Quarter
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Built in the pre-Thang Long period in the 7th century, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is a massive architectural work preserved through the dynasties and has become the most important historical site of the ancient Thang Long citadel. When you come here to visit, you can still admire the unique architectural works that have remained to this day.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The visit to Hanoi will be remiss if you do not visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, one of the famous works bearing the cultural and historical values of the Vietnamese people for the old father of the nation. Under the guidance of the staff here, you will follow the flow of people to go inside and visit the former president Ho Chi Minh (also called informally Uncle Ho).
To understand more about Uncle Ho’s life and career as well as to learn about the heroic history of Vietnam, you can stop by the Ho Chi Minh museum quite near the mausoleum.
Hanoi Opera House
Built in the years 1901 – 1911, Hanoi Opera House is an architectural work with European architectural style that is inspired by famous works such as the Paris Opera House, Tuylory Castle… Experiencing many ups and downs of time, the Hanoi Opera House has been repainted from the old light yellow into a dark yellow with a bit of white, full of majesty and beauty.
With our local experience, we hope that you will get a reasonable itinerary of Old Quarter Hanoi and can choose the places as well as activities that fit your travel purpose ad travel-mate as friends, family, couple or even solos.
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