Hanoi Old Quarter: Exploring the Heart of Vietnam's Capital

train passing through a narrow street of the Hanoi Old Quarter-Leisure

If you're looking for an authentic taste of Hanoi, look no further than the Old Quarter. This bustling neighborhood is the heart and soul of Vietnam's capital city, and it's where you'll find some of the city's most iconic landmarks, markets, and street food stalls. From the vibrant night markets of Hang Dao Street to the traditional houses of Ma May Street, the Old Quarter is a feast for the senses.


But the Old Quarter isn't just about sightseeing and shopping. It's also a place to immerse yourself in Hanoi's rich history and culture. Here, you can explore ancient temples, sample local cuisine, and discover the unique French and Vietnamese architecture blend that makes this neighborhood special. In this blog, we'll take you on a tour of the Hanoi Old Quarter and show you all the best things to see and do in this vibrant neighborhood. Whether interested in history, culture, or just soaking up the atmosphere, there's something for everyone here. We'll also provide tips on where to stay and how to get around so you can make the most of your visit. So come along with us, and let's explore the heart and soul of Hanoi together.


History of the Hanoi Old Quarter


The Old Quarter in Hanoi reflects Vietnam's rich and storied past, dating back to the 11th century when Emperor Ly Thai To decided to move the capital from Hoa Lu to Hanoi. The area soon became a hub for arts and crafts, attracting skilled craftsmen who settled in guilds on particular streets and specialized in specific goods or services. These streets, known as the "36 Old Streets," still bear names that reflect their craft traditions and history. The Nguyen dynasty's tax on street frontage led to the development of "tube houses," a narrow architectural style standard throughout the Old Quarter and Vietnam. The area is also home to numerous temples and pagodas, reflecting the religious beliefs brought by migrants who settled there.


Adding to the area's cultural diversity is the influence of French colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, evident in the yellow-colored exteriors of old villas, houses, and buildings, as well as the wide boulevards leading into the Old Quarter. 



yellow colored exteriors of houses in Hanoi-Leisure


Over the centuries, the neighborhood grew and developed, home to diverse residents, including merchants, craftsmen, and artisans. Today, the Hanoi Old Quarter is a fascinating blend of the old and the new. While some of the original buildings and alleyways remain, the neighborhood has also been modernized and developed to accommodate the needs of modern-day tourists and residents.


Exploring the Hanoi Old Quarter, Vietnam


One of the best ways to explore the Hanoi Old Quarter is on foot. The neighborhood is made up of narrow alleyways and winding streets. Each one is filled with shops, cafes, and local businesses. Take your time as you wander the streets, and don't be afraid to get lost - that's all part of the experience!


Some landmarks and attractions are must-sees when visiting the Hanoi Old Quarter. These include:


Hoan Kiem Lake 

This picturesque lake is located in the heart of the Old Quarter and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Stroll around the lake, or rent a paddleboat and explore the water.



hoan kiem lake in hanois old quarter-Leisure



St. Joseph's Cathedral

This beautiful Gothic-style cathedral is located in the heart of the Old Quarter and is a popular spot for visitors and worshippers alike. Take a guided tour to learn more about the history and architecture of the building.


Dong Xuan Market

This bustling market is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the Old Quarter's sights, sounds, and smells. You'll find everything from fresh produce and seafood to clothing and souvenirs here.


Temple of Literature

This ancient temple was built in honor of Confucius, and it's a popular spot for visitors looking to learn more about Vietnamese history and culture.


Go Shopping

If you're visiting Hanoi Old Quarter, shopping is a must-do activity. To help you navigate the various markets and streets, here is a brief guide on what each one specializes in:


Hang Bac street is the place to go for precious stones, jewelry, and jade. On Hang Gai street, you'll find clothes and garments ranging from scarves to suits. The skilled tailors on this street can measure and outfit you within 24 hours. Luong Van Can street offers colorful souvenirs and toys for children, while Hang Ma street is filled with toys, decorations, and paper lanterns - perfect for festival shopping. For traditional medicine needs, head to Lan Ong street, named after a famous Vietnamese doctor.


Best Hotels To Stay in the Hanoi Old Quarter


There are plenty of accommodation options in the Hanoi Old Quarter, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Some of the best choices include:


hotels in hanoi old quater-Leisure



Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa is a 5 Star-rated boutique hotel in the heart of the Hanoi Old Quarter. This luxurious hotel offers guests a unique experience that combines the traditional architecture of Vietnam with modern amenities and excellent customer service. The rooms are well-appointed and elegantly furnished with Vietnamese decor, offering guests a comfortable and relaxing stay. The hotel's spa offers a range of treatments that will leave guests feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. The rooftop bar is a highlight of the hotel, offering stunning views of the city and a fantastic place to enjoy a cocktail or two. The hotel's staff is highly attentive and always ready to go the extra mile to ensure guests have an unforgettable stay.


Hanoi Rocks Hostel: If you're a budget traveler or backpacker looking for affordable accommodation in the Old Quarter, Hanoi Rocks Hostel is an excellent option. This hostel is known for its clean and comfortable rooms, friendly atmosphere, and affordable prices. The staff is very accommodating and goes out of their way to ensure guests feel at home. The hostel has various room options, including dormitory-style, private, and family rooms. The communal areas, including the rooftop terrace and lounge area, allow guests to socialize and meet other travelers. The hostel's central location in the Old Quarter is also a significant advantage, as guests can easily explore the many sights and attractions. Overall, Hanoi Rocks Hostel offers an excellent budget-friendly option for those exploring Hanoi Old Quater without breaking the bank.


Getting Around the Hanoi Old Quarter


The best way to get around the Hanoi Old Quarter is on foot. The neighborhood is compact, easy to navigate, and has plenty to see and do within walking distance. If you need to travel further afield, plenty of taxis and motorbike taxis are available for hire.


Navigating the Hanoi Old Quarter can be challenging, especially if you're unfamiliar with the neighborhood. That's why having a good map is essential. Here's everything you need to know about the Hanoi Old Quarter map and how to use it to make the most of your visit.


First, it's important to note that the Hanoi Old Quarter has several distinct sections, each with its unique character and attractions. Some of the most popular areas of the neighborhood include:


Hang Dao Street: This street is known for its vibrant nightlife and bustling markets, and it's a great place to shop for souvenirs and street food.


Ma May Street: This street is home to several traditional Vietnamese houses, which have been converted into museums and cafes. It's a great place to learn more about the history and culture of the Old Quarter.


Ta Hien Street: This street is known as the "beer street" of the Old Quarter, and it's a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to gather and enjoy a cold drink.


To navigate the neighborhood, having a good map showing the various sections and landmarks is helpful. Several online maps are available, including Google Maps and Maps. me, which can be downloaded and used offline.


In addition to online maps, many Hanoi Old Quarter hotels and hostels also provide paper maps to their guests. These maps often highlight the most popular attractions and landmarks and can be a helpful resource for planning your itinerary. When using a map to navigate the Hanoi Old Quarter, it's important to remember that the streets can be narrow and crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Take your time, and be prepared to navigate around pedestrians, street vendors, and motorbikes.




What is the old quarter in Hanoi called?

The old quarter in Hanoi is called "Hanoi Old Quarter" or "Pho Co Ha Noi" in Vietnamese.


Should you stay in the old quarter in Hanoi?

Staying in the old quarter of Hanoi is popular among visitors due to its central location, vibrant atmosphere, and proximity to many of the city's top attractions, restaurants, and shops.


What is the difference between Hanoi Old Quarter and French Quarter?

The Hanoi Old Quarter is known for its historical architecture, narrow streets, and bustling markets, while the French Quarter, located south of the old quarter, is characterized by more wide, tree-lined boulevards and grand colonial buildings. The French Quarter was built during the French colonial period and had a more modern feel than the Old Quarter's ancient charm.


Why is it called the Old Quarter Hanoi?

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is called so because it is the oldest part of the city, dating back over 1,000 years. It was initially a cluster of small villages that eventually merged to become Hanoi, and the Old Quarter is where the city's commercial and trade activities were centered.


Where to stay in Hanoi Old Quarter?

There are many options for accommodation in the Hanoi Old Quarter, ranging from budget hostels to luxurious hotels. Popular areas to stay in include Hoan Kiem Lake, Hang Bac Street, and Ta Hien Street, all located in the heart of the Old Quarter.




In conclusion, the Hanoi Old Quarter in Vietnam is an enchanting destination that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and bustling energy. This vibrant neighborhood is filled with charming architecture, colorful markets, and street food stalls that will take your senses on a sensory adventure. Whether exploring the narrow alleyways, sipping on local coffee, or admiring the ancient temples, the Hanoi Old Quarter will leave a lasting impression on you. So, if you're planning a trip to Vietnam, add the Hanoi Old Quarter to your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

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