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One of the most enjoyable things to do in Hanoi is visiting the city's markets. Among the most interesting ones is Dong Xuan market in the northern part of the Old Quarter. The first thing you'll probably see is the immensely ugly market hall (rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1994) - just skip it and go on to the nearby streets. You'll find yourself in the middle of a neverending hustle and bustle. In literally every corner, people sell literally everything. You'll find fresh herbs, homemade noodles, lots of seafood, either dried or fresh, juicy pineapple slices, minced meat, garlic, all kinds of exotic fruits like durian or dragonfruit, but also rather strange specialties such as duck heads or pork feet. Altogether, it's just incredible how many different kinds of food are sold on the street. Wander through the narrow lanes and do not hesitate to look into the backyards, try to bargain over some fresh melons or oranges, and take a deep breath of market air. Dong Xuan market is amazingly rarely visited by tourists - which is a plus! Apart from Dong Xuan, one should also visit Hang Da market located in the western part of the Old Quarter. It's a market dedicated to selling animals. If you are a friend of animals, don't go there - the conditions may shock you. Some ten cats are kept in tiny cages, hundreds of birds share the more-than-small cage next to it while puppies sadly whine whenever a potential customer passes by. The Vietnamese way of treating animals shall not be discussed here, but be warned!
Dong Xuan Market
This is a huge complex...it takes up a couple of blocks and is on 3 levels. Inside you can find everything imaginable, but only if you can stand the press of people for long enough to look. It was just too crowded for comfort when we were there! The French built the market in the 1880's. It has been rebuilt since a fire burned down much of it in 1994. The only original part is the entrance which has been restored.
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Dong Xuan Market
The area’s a little crustier than the blocks you’ve past (and always has had a poetic allure for its ‘pickpockets’ and seedier feel), but worth it to at least see the original 1889 façade of the market. The building it fronts is a more modern monstrosity, built after a 1994 fire wrecked the inside.
Head back south again and left on Hang Chieu St, past the mat shops. Two blocks ahead you’ll see
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Dong Xuan Market
This large three-storey market in the north of Hanoi's Old Quarter offers a varied cornucopia of goods of all sorts. Hundreds of stalls, with thousands of workers, trade extremely fresh produce, dried foods, household goods, appliances and more. The market has an interesting history. It saw fierce fighting between Vietnamese resistance units and the French. Later, in 1994, the market was destroyed in a fire that resulted in the death of five people and the loss of an estimated USD4.5 million in stock.
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