As the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi still has a place still remains traces of old Hanoi. If I had to compare Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, these two biggest and busiest cities, then Hanoi would gain a special place in my heart.
The city where I was born has an ineffable charm reflected in every corner, every person I meet and every food I eat. If you want to know why I love this city so much, spend at least 2 days on the Northern tours to explore Hanoi’s old quarter.
In the history of Hanoi Old Quarter, 36 streets are the oldest part in the center of Hanoi, next to Hoan Kiem Lake. This place consists of thousands of years old buildings with colonial architecture dating back quite long.
In fact, there are more than 36 streets counted in the old quarter, in some documents someone has given a total of 76 roads. Some researchers also believe that the number 36 stands for 36 places. not the street. As time went by, as the city grew, these names were given to street names. Now, the old town has changed a lot but still stores some characteristics of old Hanoi.
Discover the old quarter of Hanoi
The narrowest place in the center of Hanoi
When you are on a Hanoi walk to stroll around the old town, pay attention to your steps, otherwise you may collide with others. All streets in the old town are very narrow and zigzag. Trust me, you might get lost for the first time here.
Despite the limited space, houses, shops and traffic are always crowded, pedestrians have to walk down the road most of the time while sidewalks are occupied by businesses. The fact that owning a sidewalk for sale is not legal, sometimes you can see this area is very clear when the police come but once they leave, everything is back to normal.
You will also be surprised to look at houses in the old town, no tall and large buildings, only old and small houses. Of course, except for some new hotels built for foreign tourists.
The front part of houses in the area is mainly used to open shops, cafes, restaurants, travel agents. And inside the house there are 3 to 4 generations living under one roof. These long, thin houses are called tube houses. Many residents do not want to leave this area because the old quarter is really a gold mine, they can make a living even with an extremely small space.
Long-term business in Hanoi Old Quarter
As mentioned above, the main streets in the old quarter are named after the locations. All names start with very similar names. Then the following words indicate the type of product that families living inside produce and sell. Due to the rapid change of life and needs of the people, now only a few streets can preserve ancient culture.
There is a street called Hang Bac, so if you want to find a silver jewelry, you should come here. If you want to buy wrapping paper or decoration, go to Hang Ma street. If you want to buy casual clothes, go to Hang Ngang and Hang Dao streets. For the rest of the street, today, there are many other types of products sold, thus very convenient for every resident and tourist.
Hanoi coffee culture and street food
The sidewalk cafe is the most striking image you can see everywhere in the old town. Coffee is an indispensable part of Vietnamese life, and drinking coffee is not a luxury for Hanoi people.
People here like to sit on plastic chairs, sip coffee slowly flowing out of one, chat with friends and watch the busy pace of life. If someday you can’t stand the bustle, find yourself a sidewalk cafe or reward yourself with a cup of Vietnamese coffee.
There are several places for coffee drinkers inside old houses. You will need to go through a long alley or go up a narrow staircase. Once here, you will leave all the worries and sorrows daily.
In addition to coffee, Hanoi Old Quarter is the second most famous street food in Vietnam. Vietnam has long been regarded as a culinary cradle of the world, and Hanoi, the capital, will give you the opportunity to sample specialties from all over the country.
The way people enjoy food is as simple as they enjoy coffee. Luxury restaurants are still here, but popular eateries are still more prominent here. For this reason, when coming to Hanoi, foreign tourists are always interested in Vietnamese cuisine.
Nightlife activities in the old town
If the Old Quarter had only ancient features, it could not be enough for young people and tourists to explore. As night falls, part of the neighborhood emerges with beer, bars, pubs and music. You should not miss a few beers of Hanoi beer, along with some snacks like french fries, fried chicken wings, fermented pork.
Every weekend, there is a list of activities waiting to be explored such as night markets, pedestrian areas, live music, performances and traditional games. If you’re lucky enough to stay in Hanoi from Friday night to Saturday night, you’ll be up all night to explore.
Hanoi Old Quarter is a valuable heritage of the past and is facing a rapid change of life. But we all hope that even with change, its charm will not disappear in the future.