Exploring Hanoi Old Quarter

Last updated - September 21, 2023
Exploring Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter has a long and rich history that can be traced back to the Ly and Tran dynasties. The area was a bustling center for small-scale industries and commerce. Each street had its own unique identity, reflecting different trades and products. For example, Hang Bac, Hang Dao, and Hang Ma were named after the primary products sold there.

Despite the transformations that Hanoi's Old Quarter has undergone over the years, it still manages to preserve its cultural significance. While some streets may no longer sell the goods that they were originally named after, they still manage to maintain their historical beauties.

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Where is the Hanoi Old Quarter ?

The Old Quarter, also called Pho Co Ha Noi in Vietnamese, was Hanoi's historic civic urban core, located in the city center by the north of Hoan Kiem Lake. With each street specializing in a specific type of manufacturing or commerce, it was the city's residential, manufacturing, and commercial center.

The 36 streets, named after the guilds that once made up the area, are another name for this vibrant district. Discover the history and charm of this lively neighborhood, where centuries-old architecture and a bustling atmosphere transport you to a different time.

Hanoi Old Quarter location

In 1995, the Vietnamese Ministry of Construction established the official boundaries of the Hanoi Old Quarter. Bounded by Hàng Đậu street in the north, Phùng Hưng street in the west, and Hàng Bông street, Hàng Gai street, Cầu Gỗ street, and Hàng Thùng street in the south, it is delimited by Trần Quang Khải street and Trần Nhật Duật street in the east.

While some streets that were part of the historic urban area lie outside of these boundaries, this area was chosen for its high density of historical streets and preservation of its historical character. Explore this charming neighborhood to experience a slice of Hanoi's rich cultural heritage.

How to get from Hanoi airport to Hanoi Old Quarter ?

From Hanoi airport to Old Quarter is about 30 km and there are some transfer ways for your reference: By Express bus, shuttle bus, public bus, by taxi, by private car

Express Bus No 86:
This bus provides the fastest travel time, taking only around 45 minutes. Plus, it stops at the most convenient locations near the Old Quarter. A one-way ticket costs 45 000 VND ( $1.90).

Shuttle bus:
A cost-effective option to travel from Hanoi Airport to the city center is to take the shuttle buses provided by various airlines. These buses operate in accordance with flight schedules and are available for passengers flying with Vietjet Air, Vietnam Airlines, and Jetstar. For a fare of 40 000 VND ($1.70), passengers can travel comfortably to the city center.

Public bus:
If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to get to and from Hanoi Airport, public buses are the way to go. The fares start from 10,000 VND ($0.40), making it an ideal option for those traveling on a tight budget. However, keep in mind that these buses tend to be crowded with locals, and they do not make any stops close to the Old Quarter. Therefore, the travel time may take up to 1.5 hours.

By taxi:
It is available at the airport, and costs around 400 000 VND ( ($17). However, they are sedan style taxis, and note that if you arrive late, it may not be easy to get a taxi or have to wait for a long time.

By a private car:
A private transfer service is a hassle-free way to get from Hanoi Airport to the city center. You'll be met by a professional driver at the airport who will take you directly to your destination. One benefit of a private transfer is its flexibility - you can choose the type of vehicle that best suits your needs, whether it's a cozy sedan for solo travelers or a spacious minivan for larger groups. You can also set your own departure time, so there's no need to rush or wait for public transportation schedules.

While it is more expensive than other options, a private transfer is a great choice for those who value convenience and comfort.
The cost is from 700 000 VND ( $30).

What to visit in the Hanoi Old quarter ?

Explore the Hanoi old house

In Hanoi Old Quarter, you'll be enchanted by the unique architecture of the houses. The houses, commonly referred to as “tube houses,” are renowned for their narrow and elongated shape, tiled roofs, and small business shops on the ground floor. Most of these historic structures were constructed in the early 20th century.

Ancient house in Hanoi Old Quarter

Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the heart of the historical center and is a must-see attraction. It is also known as the Lake of the Restored Sword, offering a tranquil escape from the busy streets.
There are many ways to enjoy the lake, such as taking a leisurely stroll or jog, or finding a peaceful spot to unwind. Additionally, a visit to Ngoc Son Temple is a must, which sits on a small island within the lake and is accessible by crossing a beautiful red bridge called The Huc.

Hang Bac Street

Hang Bac street or Silver street

It used to be home to a silver foundry, making it the richest street in the Old Quarter. Today, taking a walk down the street transports you back in time to the trading village's history. You can still hear echoes of the many foundries that once operated here, and the street retains the beauty of an ancient craft village

Thuoc Bac Street

A cultural gem of Hanoi, owing its name to the centuries-old botanical medicine trade that has thrived there. The street takes its name from the practice of northern herbalism, which differs from the southern herbalism tradition that uses Vietnamese indigenous herbs.

Most of the sellers in this street come from Da Nguu village in the northern province of Hung Yen, where the trade of Chinese traditional medicines is still practiced today.

The begining of Thuoc Bac street and Hang Ma street

In the past, the drug stores were simple, with baskets and trays of herbs placed outside the door. The herbs were left intact with their branches, roots, and seeds, filling the air with their pleasant herbal fragrance, a tradition that still persists today.

Lan Ong Street

Located in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter, Lan Ong Street is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in traditional medicine and herbs. The street is named after a famous traditional doctor, and it has been a hub for medicinal herbs for centuries.

Lan Ong street in the Hanoi Old Quarter

As you walk down the street, the aroma of herbs will greet you, and you will see shops selling traditional remedies and oriental medicine herbs. Despite the changes in the economy and society, most shops on Lan Ong Street have continued to keep the traditional craft alive.

Hang Dao Street

Hang Dao Street, once known as Rue de la Soie (Silk Street) during the French colonial period, was renowned for selling a variety of goods, particularly silk. However, with the rise of Western-style tailor shops, the silk stores began to dwindle, and the street gradually transformed into a luxury shopping destination that continues to thrive today.

Hang Dao street - the center of Hanoi Old Quarter

Today, Hang Dao Street remains a bustling hub of Hanoi's Old Quarter, serving as a vital center for fashion, jewelry, watches, and shoe stores to meet the growing demands of both locals and tourists. The traditional architecture of the houses along the street adds to the charm of this vibrant shopping destination.

Dong Xuan Market

Dong Xuan market - an attractive destination in Hanoi Old Quarter

This is an attractive destination for those who want to experience the local atmosphere of Hanoi. As one of the city's oldest and largest markets, it's a vibrant hub of activity and offers a glimpse into traditional Vietnamese market life.
Here, you can immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of the market and explore the diverse range of goods on offer. You can find everything from everyday items to handicrafts, fabrics, and local delicacies. It's an exciting place to shop, bargain, and experience the energy of Hanoi's market culture.

Ta Hien Street

Also known as the “beer corner” of Hanoi, is a vibrant and bustling spot that should not be missed. It's a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and it offers a unique dining experience that embodies the essence of Vietnamese street food.

Vibrant Ta Hien beer street in the Hanoi Old Quarter

The street is filled with numerous bars and restaurants that serve up some of the best street food in the city, including Hanoi's famous "pho" noodle soup, grilled meat, and various snacks. Grab a plastic stool, order a cold beer or a refreshing cocktail, and soak up the atmosphere. Ta Hien Street is also a popular destination for nightlife, with many bars and clubs staying open until the early hours of the morning.

What to eat in the Hanoi Old Quarter ?

If you're a foodie, the Old Quarter is a must-visit destination in Hanoi. With its incredible culinary offerings, it's a feast for the senses. Here are some of the must-try dishes and the best places to find them:

Bun Cha Hang Manh: 1 Hang Manh Str.
Hang Manh Street is where you can indulge in one of the most iconic dishes of Hanoi, Bun Cha. This delectable dish features grilled pork patties served with vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a sweet and savory dipping sauce. The smoky flavors of the grilled meat perfectly complement the freshness of the herbs, creating a mouth-watering and satisfying culinary experience.

Pho Hanoi: 49 Bat Dan Str.
Pho, the quintessential Vietnamese noodle soup that has become a global sensation. And for the most authentic and flavorful Pho experience, head straight to Pho Bat Dan. This iconic eatery is renowned for its fragrant beef broth, tender slices of beef, and fresh rice noodles that are cooked to perfection. To add an extra burst of freshness and zing, don't forget to pair it with a side of aromatic herbs, crunchy bean sprouts, and a squeeze of tangy lime juice

Cha Ca La Vong: 14 Cha Ca Str.
Cha Ca, a turmeric-spiced fish dish that is a beloved specialty of Hanoi. Served with vermicelli noodles, peanuts, and a variety of herbs and spices, the dish is a perfect balance of flavors and textures. In fact, it's so popular that there's even a street in Hanoi named after it - Cha Ca Street. Don't miss out on this iconic dish during your visit to the city
Where is the best for Money Exchange in the Hanoi Old Quarter ?

Banh Mi Pho Co:  38 Dinh Liet Str
Banh Mi is a beloved staple of Vietnamese cuisine and a must-try when visiting the Old Quarter. The bread is airy and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, thanks to a combination of wheat and rice flours. What makes Banh Mi truly special, however, is the filling, which usually consists of savory pork, pâté, and cured ham, along with a colorful assortment of Vietnamese herbs and vegetables like coriander, cucumber, carrot, and radish. You can find Banh Mi stands all around the Old Quarter, each with their own unique twist on this delicious sandwich.

Hanoi Old Quarter is a paradise of flavors and textures waiting to be discovered. There are countless dishes to try. Don't be afraid to venture into the maze of narrow alleys and explore the best foods in Hanoi. You might stumble upon some hidden gems and discover new flavors that will leave you craving for more.

Where to stay in the Hanoi Old Quarter ?

There are some really nice hotels with great locations in Hanoi Old Quarter that you could consider for your stay during your time in Hanoi.

The Rex Hanoi hotel: Located at 42-44 Gia Ngư Street, in the heart of the Old Quarter, this location is just a quick 2-minute stroll from Hoan Kiem Lake.

La Siesta Premium hotel: Located at 27 Hang Be Str, Hanoi Old Quarter. La Siesta Premium Hang Be harmoniously blends classic charm with Asian influences, featuring tasteful traditional elements and sophisticated period furnishings.

May De Ville Premier: Located at 13 Luong Quoc Quyen Str, right next to Ta Hien Str. Newly opened in September 2022 as the first classic representative of the brand May De Ville Hotel Group in Hanoi Old Quarter.

Suggested 1 day Itinerary to visit Hanoi Old Quarter

This is a suggested full day day trip to experience the old quarter:

Kick-start your morning with a delightful bowl of Pho at Pho Bat Dan. This renowned restaurant is famous for its scrumptious broth and sizable servings. It's the perfect way to energize yourself for a day filled with adventures.

Then walk to explore some famous streets such as: Thuoc Bac, Lan Ong, Hang Ma, Hang Dao…Head over to Dong Xuan Market to immerse yourself in its labyrinthine alleys and lively ambiance. Take your time exploring the myriad of stalls, and maybe even snagging some one-of-a-kind keepsakes or delicious local delicacies.

Lunch is at Cha Ca La Vong or Bun Cha Hang Manh. After lunch, enjoy a leisurely walk around the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake. Revel in its peacefulness and splendor while taking a detour to Ngoc Son Temple to delve into its rich history and appreciate the exquisite traditional design.
Relax at a café shop with an egg coffee to enjoy the moment in the Hanoi Old Quarter.

Conclude your day by making your way to the bustling Ta Hien Street. Pull up a chair at one of the al fresco bars, mingle with the friendly locals and fellow adventurers, and relish a few brews amid lively conversations. Ta Hien Street is a popular hub for nightlife and commonly known as the "beer street" of Hanoi, offering a fantastic opportunity to unwind, socialize, and immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the city.

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