Hanoi – Vietnam’s capital with thousand years of civilization lying in the North of the country and becoming one of Vietnam’s top tourist hot destinations. Tourists are always attracted at the first sight with its ancient architecture and tranquility. Especially, Hanoi Old Quarter – the most well-known spot represents the eternal soul of Hanoi. Although the common name is often called the “36 Old Streets, there are more than 36 actual streets. It is believed that the number 36 came from the 15thcentury when there might have been 36 guild locations, which were the workshop in urban areas, not streets. The streets then were developed, the guild names were applied to the streets. Others attribute the 36 to a more abstract concept.
The overview of Hanoi Old Quarter
Located between Hoan Kiem lake, the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall; Hanoi Old Quarter total area is about 100 ha and counts 76 streets distributed over 10 wards. In the 11th century, Vietnamese attained independence and King Ly Thai To selected Thang Long as the country’s capital in 1010 and built his palace in Hanoi, the Old Quarter also began to acquire its reputation as crafts. Having a history that spans 2,000 years, Hanoi Old Quarter is considered the oldest ancient commercial of Vietnam with its tranquility and charming colonial architecture.
In the past, skilled craftsmen from countryside migrated to the capital city to do business. They gather together in Hanoi Old Quarter to work and share the resources and perform similar services. Because artisans originating in the same village, streets developed a homogeneous look. For example, the streets name was called by the name of the goods sold at that individual street such as Pho Hang Bac (silver), Pho Hang Bun (Vermicelli), Pho Hang Ma (Paper Product), etc. Besides, Hanoi Old Quarter has a rich religious heritage. When migrating city, craftsmen brought their religious practices. As a result, each guild or street has at least one temple or pagoda with its own patron saint, founder, and architecture. Visiting here, tourists can still appreciate some of the original products as well as get a feel of rich old Vietnamese culture.
Here are 7 well-known streets in the Old Quarter that possess a unique character worth exploring.
Hang Dao Street – The Silk Road of Vietnam
Located in the north of Hoan Kiem Lake, Hang Dao is the main axis of 36 streets in Hanoi as well as one of Vietnam’s oldest streets. The street is called Hang Dao because, in the past, the street was selling silk dyer, which specialized in a deep pink dye. In the French Colonial time, Hang Dao Street was a center for the trading of silk goods and the cradle of culture and patriotic anti-French movement in 1907.
At present, Hang Dao appearance has changed. It still plays the role of the main crowded shopping street in Hanoi, but Hang Dao Street specializes in selling clothes for tourists and local people. When visiting Hang Dao, visitors will have a special feeling about the ancient street but very modern.
Hang Bac Street
Located in the North East of Thang Long Citadel, Hang Bac dates from at least 13th century. Hang Bac is considered is one of the busiest streets in Hanoi. Under the reign of Le Thanh Tong (1469- 1497), this street started as a silver ingot factory. The old town has three main professions: silver casting, jewelry making, and currency exchange. It is a home to skilled jewelers of different types: smelters, engravers, polishers, and gold-leaf makers.
Over time of history, the street has many changes, Hang Dao still keep its own architectural features. Today, along the two sides of the road are shops selling gold jewelry, jewelry attracts both young tourists and elderly.
Hang Ma Street
Hang Bo Street
Hang Bo Street is the traditional bamboo basket street in Hanoi. In the French colonial period, Hang Bo is called Ruede Paniers, after the revolution, Hang Bo became the official name.In the past, the main purpose of Hang Bo is sold instruments and crafts making from bamboo … It is now experiencing rapid development, is called a “multi-purpose” street. Although the street is narrow, it always attracts tourists by its own characteristic. Especially, on the occasions like Tet holiday, the crowded street both buyers and sellers is the full of basket buying and selling goods transported around the region. Deeper in the Old Quarter, you find streets in which all the shops still specialize in one commodity: rolls of copper wire, or embroidery, or tiles and plumbing fixtures.
Thuoc Bac Street
Thuoc Bac Street is the place sell the merchandise of unprocessed medicinal herbs of Vietnam. This street nowadays actually is the combination of many shorter streets with its distinct merchandises across the country. Store in this street quite simple with the baskets containing herbs meters at present living in the house to the ground from the threshold; drugs to whole stems, not cut their roots, tubers not slice, the paper wrapped package of small seeds, we went through this street is the smell of aromatic herbs coming out the back. Today, the street has a combination of the old houses and modern houses with the unique style. Especially, the number 71 remains in the style of the traditional Vietnamese urban houses. The number from 65 to 77 were built in the Western style.
Hang Duong Street
Belong to Hanoi Old Quarter, Hang Duong Street still retains its typical flavor by processing and selling sugar and sweet because, in Vietnam, Duong means sugar. Prior to the 60s of the 20th century, this is the center selling candy in Hanoi. Currently, this street is no longer selling confectionery as before, but become the center of the busy market of Hanoi with all kinds of items, especially delicious oatmeal. A small shop owns by a local people and they make candy and jam from various fruit types. Every year, especially like Mid-autumn or Tet holiday, it becomes a bustling and animated street attracting both tourist and residents. People can buy very cheap kinds of stuff from the market.
Hang Thiec Street
Hang Thiec is the street of tinsmiths which has existed for a long time in Hanoi Old Quater. Besides, Hang Thiec also produced different items like candlesticks, incense burners, oil lamps, opium boxes and tips of conical hats. On the occasion of Mid-Autumn Festival or Tet holiday, the Hang Thiec is busier because the craftsmen begin to use pieces of tin to make children’s toys like cars, trains, ships, planes, peach-shaped lanterns with a fairy inside, butterfly-shaped lanterns and a rabbit beating a drum. Worker and craftsmen have preserved their traditional craft until today. Most of the house selling goods in this streets are old and have small garrets. This makes the house look like “overlapping matchboxes”.
To conclude, coming to Hanoi Old Quarter, tourists not only can find a sense of peace, but they have an opportunity to contemplate the beauty of their colorful and ancient features. If you are interested in any other attractions in Hanoi or in other cities, visit I love Asia Tour to get more information.