Located right next to Hoan Kiem Lake, the old quarter of Hanoi has up to 76 streets. It is easy to recognize the old quarters by the streets covering it, for example: Hang Dau is in the north, Phung Hung is in the west, Hang Bong is in the south and Tran Quang Khai is in the east. This old quarter in Hanoi is a precious architectural heritage imbued with the traditional cultural character of Vietnamese people and also deserved to be the quintessence of Hanoi City as well.
With total area of only about 100ha, the old quarter was established since century 11 with the long history of more than one thousand years. In the past, this was a very bustle and busy business center, gathered skilled and talent craftsmen and businessmen trading in crowed shops closely together among dense streets. Firstly, the shops were blossomed without order and people flocked into the quarters too much that sometimes made the trading confused and chaotic. Gradually, the shoppers found out that if they sold the quite same things, they had better made their shops next to each other and the buyers would easier to go to their shop to buy goods. Hence, each street in the old quarter sold each type of goods and to make the trading more convenient, both the sellers and the buyers call the street as the name of goods sold in it. For example, they add “Hang” (meaning item) in front of the main goods in every street. Hang Mam sold fish sauce; Hang Thiec sold ironware, etc. There were 36 prominent trading streets among 76 streets of the old quarter. Thanks to such trading streets, the Hanoian is so proud of this old quarter that they call it in quite many names like: the trading quarter, the 36- streets, the old quarter in which the old quarter was the most common name and still very popular till nowadays.
Another typical point of the old quarter is the ancient architecture of the streets there. Those are the tube shape houses with slanting roofs with the front are for trading purpose. Surprisingly that although these houses were built up since about century 18 or 19, they still exist until today. The Hanoian has designed their houses smartly with system of rooms, entresol, and internal ground to meet the diversified needs of daily life. Therefore, each small house in the old quarter still have sufficient room for selling goods, producing goods, worship place, living room, bedroom, even a balcony, etc.
On arriving at the Hanoi old quarter, even you are the hard-to-please person, you will also be attracted by the special culture and the long-standing ancient architectures there. It would be quite stunning for your first steps in the old quarters with streets having the similar names, selling similar goods, while the food stores on the street pavements are always crowed with people and the flow of vehicles. However, this feeling will soon pass over and you will love the life in the old quarter so much, you will be absorbed into a new land with new life style and variety of delicious meals to discover and enjoy like: bun cha, pho, bun ca etc.
Every weekend, when the night comes, the walking street route of Hang Dao – Dong Xuan night market become a fascinating destination, attracting many tourists and also Hanoian to do shopping and eating. Take our city tour Hanoi to discover this vibrant and historical French quarter to see authentic life of Hanoian.