5 reasons that make Hanoi Old Quarter a must-visit

Located at the center of the capital city and remaining mostly intact despite the flow of time, Ha Noi Old Quarter is absolutely a must-see place of interest in Vietnam, especially if you want to explore the culture and the history of this country.

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  • Women selling vegetables in the Old Quarter

    Hang Vai street with bamboo on display for sale

    Lan Ong street selling ancient medicine

    Past and presence co-exist in the small district

    Here are the top five features that make Ha Noi Old Quarter so unique:

    1. A perfect combination of the past and the present

    Getting rid of the tall buildings, big roads and fancy shops, at Ha Noi Old Quarter, you experience a different kind of atmosphere, where you are immersed in a world of hundreds years ago with small two-story brick houses, tile roofs and narrow, meandering streets instead of straight, broad roads in other parts of the city. Although the design and architecture still very much resemble those of the 18th century, the dynamic adaptation of the Quarter to the modern world can be seen from the wide variety of commodities sold instead of just some specialties as well as the appearance of new restaurants and shops designed in the old style but offering professional services. At Ha Noi Old Quarter, you have the feeling that you are the time-travelers, who can see both the preservation of the local’s way of life and the gradual changes throughout some hundreds of years.

    2. Unique design and architecture

    In Ha Noi Old Quarter, you may observe that many of the houses here are extremely narrow, but at the same time very long – a kind of houses that is called “tube houses”. Since the local used to be taxed according to the facade of the house facing the street, they decided to shorten its width to save money, but lengthen the house’s length in order to make sure that the area of the house would still be big enough. This solution results in the interesting tube houses that you often see in the Quarter. You can actually go in and visit a typical house back then at 87 Ma May Street – an unforgettable experience that help you understand more about how the local lived about two hundred years ago.

    3. Historical and cultural significance

    Originally a busy marketplace consisting of many guilds, each specialized in one kind of craft, Ha Noi Old Quarter has a history of nearly a thousand years dating back to the day Thang Long (Ha Noi) became the capital of the country (1010). Besides, many of the temples located in Ha Noi Old Quarter have an interesting story behind explaining the reason why they were built. These stories also reflect the history of the country, as well as the traditional values that the local held deeply. In addition, each temple has a unique architecture, representing the development of arts in the dynasty under which it was built. They also have a lot of historic objects from as early as the 11th century.

    4. Rich religious heritage

    When the craftsmen moved to the city to work, they brought with them their own religious practices and beliefs. Since Ha Noi Old Quarter used to be a cluster of villages or guilds which then became streets, there are many temples and pagodas around this area. These historic pagodas, many of which were built in the 1000s, represent how important a role that Buddhism has played in the local’s life. Visiting some of these temples, you have a great chance to gain insight into the spiritual life of the local here for hundreds of years.

    5. Food, Food, Food

    In Ha Noi Old Quarter, you also have the chance to try many kinds of Vietnamese traditional dishes such as Bun Cha, Bun Dau Mam Tom, Xoi Xeo, Banh Duc with reasonable prices. Sitting on the pavement, savoring the tasty local’s food at the same time watching the energetic life going on around is definitely a unique experience that you can never forget.