Hanoi The Old Quarter
Finding your ways through the maze of Hanoi the Old Quarter
Hanoi The Old Quarter has occupied an important place in the history of the capital and become a pride, a passion and a deep concern in the hearts of people all over the country today. Tourists paying a visit to this special place are going to be “blown away” by a valuable system of historical, cultural, artistic and architectural value.
The old town is the convergence of 36 busy commercial streets with a thickness of nearly one thousand years of history. Each street name usually features a traditional handicraft such as Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Lo Ren, Hang Duong, etc.
The history of the formation
Located in the ancient Thang Long Citadel with an area of about 100 hectares, Hanoi the Old Quarter is famous among both domestic and international tourists for its unique and one-of-a-kind architecture. Tiny tile houses with shared terraces rise from one block to another. Moreover, travellers are likely to be strongly attracted by the intangible cultural values of living with the relics such as ancient pagodas, communal houses, temples, shrines, and churches with various festivals that take place annually in the streets of Hanoi the Old Quarter.
According to old documents, the most crowded area of ancient Hanoi was Tho Xuong district (ie, Hoan Kiem and Hai Ba Trung District today), which is commonly known as the Old Quarter at present. This is the home of various shops that sell handicrafts lining up to make the streets. Each street sells a different piece of goods or a separate profession and people take the name of the product to name the street.
Long ago, along the banks of the Red River residential areas had formed, clustering into small villages. In the 5th century (454 – 456), one of these residential areas developed into a small district called Tong Binh.
Over thousands of years, from a small early Vietnamese urban area, Tong Binh has become a city of over three million people and an important center for politics, defence, culture, and economy of Vietnam. From Tong Binh to Hanoi today is a complex urbanization process that takes place in a large-scale.
Under the Ly and Tran Dynasty, Hanoi the Old Quarter consisted of 61 wards in total. During the Le dynasty and in the early sixteenth century, Hanoi turned itself into “Dong Kinh” – the place where all the trade was done in 36 wards at that time, and gradually, this place has transformed into the Old Quarter today.
Along with other historical highlights, the Old Quarter deserves to be considered space, which represents an indelible mark on a relatively comprehensive urban life in economics, society, custom, and tradition of Vietnam.
The dramatic transformation of Hanoi the Old Quarter
The year 1986 marked a significant change for many cities of Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular and Hanoi Old Quarter is no exception. The authorities realized that the subsidized economy was outdated and could no longer meet the real development requirements, so they decided to change into the market economy.
Furthermore, the Old Quarter is always a historical and cultural center of Hanoi and also a popular destination not only for tourists but also for businessmen around the world. Business activities in these streets become more convenient than ever. The townhouse itself is a huge lucrative property, promising to give the owner a long-term value of money.
Business fields have been transformed and only a handful of households continue their traditional careers. Souvenir shops, mini-hotels, travel agencies, cafes and restaurants, which specialize in meeting the demands of tourists, businessmen and indigenous peoples, turn out to be popular and prosperous businesses and gain massive profits.
The fascinating discovery of Hanoi the Old Quarter
Taking free walking tours Hanoi is highly recommended for travellers who are so keen on exploring many interesting historical sights and discovering the cultural cuisine of the Old Quarter.
Dong Xuan Market
There is nothing better than Dong Xuan market to get an in-depth look at the traditional business culture of Hanoi. This is one of the biggest wholesale markets in Hanoi, from which many items have been sold and transported through the Northern provinces.
Visitors are expected to find almost everything in the market, from houseware, dry goods to clothes and electronic devices. Dong Xuan market is also an ideal place to buy some lovely and handicraft souvenirs for your friends and families at an affordable price (always remember to bargain).
Bach Ma Temple
Located at 76 Hang Buom Street and within the walking range of Hanoi the Old Quarter, Bach Ma Temple is one of the four Gates (East Gate) of the ancient Thang Long Citadel.
The legend of Bach Ma temple started when King Ly Thai To seek help from God in the process of building the capital. In the King’s dream, a white horse appeared and used his footprint to show the King where to build the most stable and long-lasting capital of all time. After successfully establishing the capital, King Ly Thai To bestowed the God the patron God of Thang Long Citadel and named the temple “Bach Ma”( White Horse).
The Ancient House 87 Ma May Street
Situate on a quiet side street near Hang Bac, the 87 Ma May House charms visitors by its ancient, simple and refined character of the old townhouse. Built in the late 19th century, the house made entirely of wood is preserved almost intact, with typical architectural characteristics of the old town – living space combined with the trade.
May Ancient House is one of the few houses which is well-preserved and used as visiting places, exhibitions, information center about the history of Hanoi. Here you are able to understand the lifestyle and daily activities of the ancient Hanoian. Besides, the Ancient house is also the place to introduce prehistorical architecture of Hanoi and give suggestion on how to preserve and renovate ancient houses in the Old Quarter.
There are other interesting places that should be taken into consideration for free walking tours Hanoi is Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake), Ngoc Son Temple or The Huc Bridge, promising to provide tourists with countless pleasant surprises about the history and culture of Hanoi.
A culinary adventure around Hanoi the Old Quarter
Eating your way through Hanoi
Your free walking tours Hanoi will hardly be completed without trying one of the best cuisines in the world – Vietnamese cuisine. And the perfect place to get the first-hand experience of Hanoi street food is walking around the Old Quarter.
There is a wide range of delicious food and beverage sold in the Old Quarter from day to night and these followings are appealing suggestions for food lovers.
Wandering around Hanoi old streets, it is not difficult to spot a “Banh Gio” stall (Vietnamese pyramidal rice dumpling), which is considered one of the most famous snacks of Hanoian, is attracting a big number of eaters. With simple and natural ingredients – rice flour, chopped meat and mushroom and at a reasonable price of 10,000 VND, “Banh Gio” is a perfect start for a new day full of energy.
“Bun Cha” (grilled pork and noodles) and “Bun Oc” (Snail rice noodles) are ideal choices to fill your hungry stomach. The former is a speciality of Hanoi that even the former President of the US Barack Obama fell in love with during his visit in Hanoi.
The latter is renowned for the delicacy, sophistication and deliciousness flavour. The colourful and flavorful broth is mixed with a touch of spicy chilli, the greasy fat snails and pure tofu, giving the food lovers a wonderful journey of different flavours.
There would be a great mistake not to mention the diversity of fresh and delicious desserts that can easily please even the most demanding sweet-toothed eaters. “Banh Troi Tau” ( stuffed sticky rice balls) and “Hoa Qua Dam” (a mixture of different types of fruit) are two outstanding names on the culinary map.
While the former attracts eaters with the delicious sticky rice balls filled with different fillings, sesame peanuts, and ginger broth, the latter brings to your culinary trip a touch of freshness and sweetness from condensed milk and coconut.
Drink your way through Hanoi