The Old Quarter of Hanoi is perhaps the most picturesque and characteristic part of Hanoi. Life goes on at a slow and leisurely pace, with the Hanoians tucking into pho (noodles) or com (rice) at a roadside foodstall or having a haircut at the street corner while motorcycles and cars zip pass. The best way to explore the Old Town would be on foot. Alternatively, you could hire a cyclo for 30000 VND for an hour's ride through the Old Quarter.
It is actually a maze. You can either do it on a trishaw or more interestingly, do a walk tour. Stop and look at the wares/goods displayed and you will be amazed how many types can be found within the circuit of the Old Quarters - bamboos, steel, pottery, shoes, clothes, leather, copper, thread, incense, sundries, blacksmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, medicines, baskets, pots and pans, papers, coffins, pickles, tid-bits, - you name it, they have it. Each "Hang" ie meaning "Street" will denote the trades they are selling. Between alleys and intermediates of shoplots, you will find some interesting local food being sold. Have a go on the local food and drinks whenever you are hungry or thirsty.
The Old Quarter is a place in Hanoi where you can get lost for hours. It consists of multiple blocks of old houses that are built narrow but long and high. Just imagine a series of rectangles next to each other. It is considered a UNESCO world heritage site. Each of the separate businesses sells one particular specialty. For instance you will find a store that just sells red lanterns, another that just sells goldfish, another jewerly, another stationary and so on. Its so neat to think that in Hanoi these businesses make it selling just one particular type of item coming from America where we like to have one stop shopping in our WalMarts.
The Old Quarter is where you can soak in the sights and sounds of Hanoi. There are more than 50 narrow streets in this area, with numerous shops, eating places, hotels and tour agencies. Would definitely recommend that you make this area your base as there is so much life here.
On weekends, certain streets are closed off to traffic from 7pm and additional stalls are set up in the middle of the road, selling a myriad of goods and services. Get your portait drawn, buy a bubble tea, or bring back an interesting trinket. Always be prepared to bargain however, as tourists are likely to be quoted higher prices.
The Old Quarter is Hanoi's commercial centre that has over a thousand years of history. It contains the best place to take in cafes, markets, local shops, etc. It is also the place where the cheapest hotels can generally be found.
The 36 streets that make up the Old Quarter somewhat gives you the feeling that you've been thrown back in time and you are in the old Parisian style of Hanoi. Hang Bac is lined with gold and silver shops. Hang Thiec is where the metalworkers are. Because merchants were taxed according to the length of their storefronts, houses are thin structures and go deep into the block.
You can also find the museum at 48 Hang Ngang where Uncle Ho drafted the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence.
Old Quarters has 36 streets selling different things. The streets are occupied by shops along the narrow path.
From travel agents, restaurant, motor repair shop, incense, casket, provision shops, electricals, lanterns, deco, clothing, swimwear, internet cafe, toys, silk, hotel .... you name it they should have it.
A "must do" in Hanoi is a walking tour of the city's Old Quarter. This was the site of the original centre of Hanoi and the streets still bear the names of their original functional characteristic. Streets were devoted in a guild-like way to selling particular goods. Hence there was (and still is) a "tin street", a "paper street", and a "copper street". Today you can still experience remnants of this old city characteristic in the narrow, twisting lanes of the Old Quarter.
If you own a Lonely Planet guidebook, there is an extensive walking tour in there for you to follow.
Some highlights include the Hang Thiec Street (the tin street) and Hang Ma (the paper street), but everywhere you go in the Old Quarter, there are great sights, sounds, smells, and tastes!
Named for the original 36 streets that formed the quarter, this is the most crowded and busy part of downtown. In streets, named each after a particular trade they once represented, merchants and buyers carry out a flurry of activities. Today, this is a shopping mecca for visitors and residents alike. Our group took a ride on one of the rickshaw type bicycles and enjoyed a different view of this busy part of Hanoi.
Hanoi Old Quarter consists of 36 old streets with every street selling different items.
A streets selling cemetery items, a street solely sell food, a handicraft street, a shoes street, hat street, hardware street, toy streets etc..
For those who like to go Hatyai, Thailand for the toy keychain will become mad in old quarter toy street coz there are too many choices, compare to Hat yai.
Hanoi Old Quarters is one of the most colorful sections of Hanoi. The area is packed with people, culture & surprises. I have tasted some home brewed beer at the price of VND4.000 at one of the eatery corners.
Be brave (or you will never cross the street) and also be extra careful (motorbikes are all around you) when you cross the streets, ignore all the traffic rules if you must. Beware of those zapping motorbikes when you walk around the Old Quarter, because there is no one seems to understand the proper usage of pedestrian crossing like in our countries.
When you are in Ha Noi you have to spend a day wandering the streets of the Old Quarter. Start at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake and get immersed into the daily life of the Old Quarter. It is essentially unchanged and if you go to Drum St you will find drum makers, Tin St the same.
Vietnam's traffic chaos is as represented here as anywhere but the streets are narrower so be careful. Even the walk steadily across the road is dangerous here. Footpaths are usually full of parked motorbikes so you often have to walk on the road.
The tourist heart of Hanoi (and indeed the heart of the whole city) is the maze of streets that make up the old quarter. The area is located between Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) and Long Bien Bridge. Originally the were 36 streets each dedicated to a different artisan guild, now it is a wonderful maze of streets throbbing with life ,shops, stalls, cafes, bars and street life.
The sidewalks are almost impossible to walk on as they are full of parked motorbikes, so you walk down the narrow roads with everyone else, keeping an eye on the constant flow of bike and motorbikes around you.