Hanoi Old Quater & 36 streets

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The Old Quarter is, without hyperbole, the heart of Hanoi. From the 11th  century, the city is then known as Thăng Long, the City of the Ascending Dragon grew and expanded around the Old Quarter, where merchants and craftspeople from all over the country gathered to ply their trades. The names of the Quarter’s 36 streets pay homage to the people who once lived and worked there; you can still purchase jewelry on Hàng Bạc (Silver Street), and headgear on Hàng Nón (Hat Street). Learn more: Hanoi tours

Entering the Quarter for the first time, especially for foreign tourists, can be a bewildering, overwhelming experience – crossing the streets in Vietnam is both an art and an extreme sport, as drivers zoom by with little regard for life or limb. You’ll be able to marvel at the French colonial “tube houses” of the 18-19th century with their slanted tiled roofs, housing shops on the ground floor, and people above. Fitting together in a strange-yet-charming patchwork of heights and aesthetics, the buildings have served the people of Hanoi well. 

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Even as Vietnam increasingly modernizes and reaches out to the world, Hanoi does not forget her roots. The Old Quarter still contains over 100 historical buildings and places of worship. The most notable example of these is Bạch Mã (White Horse) Temple, the oldest of the Four Sacred Temples, which has kept watch over Thăng Long since 1010 and still throngs with the faithful. 

Food is another profound aspect of Hanoi. Tradition, medicine, entertainment, and nourishment come together in one cuisine. New experiences in flavors and textures await around every corner: vendors laden with goods calling for customers, diners sitting hunched on small plastic chairs, waiters bringing traditional dishes to visitors in fancy restaurants. Beyond the phở and bánh mì that most foreigners would invariably know, there are delights that you may be unable to get elsewhere. One of Hanoi’s famous autumnal specials, for example, is cốm – sweet, green, young rice wrapped in fragrant lotus leaves, “the pure treasure of the Heavens” that writer Thạch Lam so rapturously praised.

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If the Quarter is a heart-shaped pendant, then Hoàn Kiếm Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword, or simply Sword Lake) is its glittering jewel. Let your gaze sweep over the scenery, and perhaps you too can see a golden turtle rising from emerald waters to retrieve a sacred sword from an Emperor, the myth that gave the lake its current name. You can take a stroll around the lake with ice cream from Tràng Tiền, or sit on any of the stone benches on the paved path and watch willow trees swaying in the breeze.

The Old Quarter is not only among the best hotspots for food and entertainment in the city but also preserves over a thousand years of culture and history. When you visit Hanoi, don’t miss out on a trip to the famous 36 streets – one of the best places to visit in Vietnam!

Reviewed by

Diep Van

Phone: +84901166884

Email: diep.van@ftripvietnam.com

Diep Van

Founder & Photography Guide

Specialties: Culture, landscape, portrait, hiking, active and adventurous tour

Besides my unlimited passion for traveling, a professional tour guide for over a decade, I have been taking photographs since sitting at Hanoi of the University of Culture in the early 2000s. Photography started as a hobby but it was seriously taken due to my work relations and my significant passion for the beauty of our world, especially in Southeast Asian parts such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Within a few years of taking photographs, my works began to be recognized by many reliable international publications such as AFAR Travel, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In addition, I continuously add to my growing profile by winning numerous major awards: 3rd Position of The Independent Photographer 2018, 1st Position of Amateur Photographer of the year 2018, Grand Prize Winner of the AFAR Travel Photography 2019, and a Gold Award of San Francisco Bay International Photography 2020.

I photograph a wide variety of subjects, from travel to landscapes to street scenes. I enjoy documenting the East’s rich cultural heritage and its land soaked in glorious sunrise or sunset light in remote and secluded spots. And, I am very happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. You can visit Luminousvietnamtour to explore tour!


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