Hanoi Old Quarter: Discover Hanoi’s Timeless Charm

Hanoi Old Quarter, also known as Hanoi 36 streets, holds a special place in the heart of Vietnam’s capital city. While it may have evolved over the years, the Old Quarter still retains its historic charm and remains a top tourist attraction.

Imagine walking through the narrow streets filled with bustling markets, and colorful shops, with the aroma of delicious street food wafting through the air. It’s like stepping back in time and immersing yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Hanoi.

In this travel guide, you’ll know all useful information about Hanoi Old Quarter.

The Old vs. The Current Hanoi Old Town:

Hanoi Old Quarter has a rich history that dates back to the Ly – Tran dynasty. In the past, it was a thriving hub for small-scale industrial and commercial activities. Each street had its unique character, representing different professions and products. Streets like Hang Trong, Hang Buom, and Hang Ga derived their names from the main products sold there.

While the old town has transformed over the years, it still maintains its cultural significance. Some streets no longer sell the goods after which they were named, but they still retain their historical charm.

For example, Hang Dao, Hang Ngang, and Hang Luoc are still bustling streets, but their specialties have changed. Hang Khoai, once known for selling potatoes, now offers plates. Hang Duong has become famous for its Ô Mai (salted/sugared dry apricot), and Hang Ga is renowned for its wedding card printing services.

best things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter

Houses in Hanoi Old Quarter

As you stroll through the Old Quarter, you’ll be captivated by the architecture of the houses. These houses, known as “tube houses,” are characterized by their narrow and elongated shape. They feature tiled roofs and small business shops on the ground floor. Most of these structures were built in the early twentieth century.

The houses still bear the signs of time, with moss-covered tile roofs and weathered facades. Many generations of Hanoians have lived in these houses, preserving the traditions, lifestyles, and cultural heritage of Hanoi.

So, exploring Hanoi Old Quarter provides a glimpse into the architectural heritage of the city and the daily lives of its residents.

best things to do in Hanoi
Old signs are still present through the old houses of Hanoi, with the tile roofs covered in moss. There are many generations of Hanoians living in these houses, preserving the lifestyles and cultures of Hanoi.

Where is Hanoi Old Quarter?

The northern part of Hanoi Old Quarter is Hang Dau street, and the west is Phung Hung street, the south road is Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Cau Go street, and Hang Thung street, the east is Tran Quang Khai street and Tran Nhat Duat street.

Places to visit in Hanoi Old Quarter

If you only have two days in Hanoi or less, it’s worth dedicating a day to exploring the Old Quarter. Here are some remarkable places to include in your itinerary:

Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the heart of the historical center, Hoan Kiem Lake is a must-visit spot. Also known as the Lake of the Restored Sword, it offers a peaceful oasis amidst bustling streets.

You can take a leisurely walk around the lake, jog, or find a quiet spot to relax. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Ngoc Son Temple, located on a small island in the lake, accessible by a charming red bridge called The Huc.

best things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter

Dong Xuan Market

As one of the largest and oldest markets in Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market is a vibrant hub of activity. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy the local atmosphere and experience the hustle and bustle of a traditional Vietnamese market.

You can explore the diverse range of goods on offer, from everyday items to handicrafts, fabrics, and local delicacies.

Ta Hien street

While Saigon has Bui Vien Street, Hanoi has Ta Hien Street.

Known as the “beer street” of Hanoi, Ta Hien Street is a popular hangout spot for both locals and visitors. Here, you won’t find fancy restaurants, but you’ll experience an authentic “Vietnamese style” of dining.

So, pull up a plastic chair, grab a cold beer, and enjoy delicious street food! The street is lined with numerous bars and clubs, making it a vibrant nightlife destination.

best things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter

What to eat in Hanoi Old Quarter?

One of the highlights of visiting the Old Quarter is indulging in its incredible culinary offerings. Here are some must-try dishes and where to find them:

  • Pho Bat Dan – 49 Bat Dan: Start your day with a steaming bowl of Pho, Vietnam’s most famous noodle soup. Pho Bat Dan is renowned for serving this beloved dish. The fragrant aroma of the beef broth, the tender slices of beef, and the fresh rice noodles make this Pho a true delight for the taste buds. You can pair it with a side of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and lime to enhance the flavors.
  • Bun Cha Hang Buom – 43 Hang Buom: Another iconic dish of Hanoi is Bun Cha, and Hang Buom Street is the place to savor it. Bun Cha is a combination of grilled pork patties, vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a sweet and savory dipping sauce. The smoky flavors of the grilled meat, coupled with the freshness of the herbs, create a harmonious and satisfying dish.
  • Egg Coffee at Cafe Giang – 39 Nguyen Huu Huan: If you’re a coffee lover, don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous Egg Coffee at Cafe Giang. This unique Hanoi specialty features a creamy and velvety mixture of egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, and robust Vietnamese coffee. The result is a decadent and indulgent beverage that is best enjoyed slowly while soaking in the charming atmosphere of the cafe.
  • Bun Thang at Bun Thang Cau Go – 32 Cau Go: For a taste of Hanoi’s traditional noodle dish, head to Bun Thang Cau Go. Bun Thang is a delicate bowl of noodles with shredded chicken, a thinly sliced omelet, mushrooms, herbs, and a flavorful broth. This dish is not only visually appealing but also showcases the skillful artistry of Hanoi’s culinary traditions.
  • Bun Bo Nam Bo – 67 Hang Dieu: If you’re looking for a refreshing dish, try Bun Bo Nam Bo. This Southern-style noodle dish combines stir-fried beef, vermicelli noodles, fresh vegetables, herbs, peanuts, and a tangy sauce. The blend of textures and flavors makes it a delightful and satisfying meal.

Here is just some of the dishes, but you can learn more about Hanoi street food in my review. Don’t hesitate to explore and try new dishes as you wander through the narrow streets and discover hidden gems.

what to eat it Hanoi

What to do in Hanoi Old Quarter – One-day itinerary

To make the most of your day in the Old Quarter, follow my suggested itinerary:

Start your morning by indulging in a hearty bowl of Pho at Pho Bat Dan. This popular eatery is known for its flavorful broth and generous portions. It’s a great way to fuel up for a day of exploration.

After breakfast and egg coffee, make your way to Dong Xuan Market. Get lost in the maze of narrow aisles and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Take the time to browse through the stalls, interact with friendly vendors, and perhaps pick up some unique souvenirs or local snacks.

As lunchtime approaches, seek out Bun Cha Hang Buom and enjoy this delicious combination of grilled pork and vermicelli noodles. The bustling street ambiance adds to the dining experience.

Once you’ve satisfied your taste buds, take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake. Enjoy the serenity and beauty of the lake, and make a stop at Ngoc Son Temple to learn about its history and admire the traditional architecture.

To beat the afternoon heat, treat yourself to a scoop of Trang Tien ice cream. This famous ice cream parlor has been delighting locals and tourists for generations with its creamy and unique flavors.

As evening approaches, explore the vibrant night market in the Old Quarter. This is the perfect opportunity to shop for souvenirs, try some local street food, and witness the lively atmosphere of Hanoi at night.

To wrap up your day, head to Ta Hien Street. Grab a seat at one of the open-air bars and join the locals and fellow travelers in enjoying a few beers and lively conversations. Ta Hien Street is renowned for its vibrant nightlife and is often referred to as the “beer street” of Hanoi. It’s a fantastic place to unwind, socialize, and experience the energetic spirit of the city.

Where to Stay in Hanoi Old Quarter

There are plenty of options to suit your needs. Here are a couple of recommendations:

Oriental Suites Hotel & Spa:

Located just a few meters from Hoan Kiem Lake, Oriental Suites Hotel & Spa offers a convenient and comfortable stay. The hotel’s prime location allows easy access to the main attractions in the Old Quarter, and the friendly staff is always ready to assist with any inquiries or travel arrangements. After a long day of exploring, you can relax and rejuvenate with a sauna session at the hotel’s spa.

best Hanoi hotels

Hanoi Backpackers Hostel:

If you’re traveling on a budget and looking for a social atmosphere, Hanoi Backpackers Hostel on Hang Muoi Street is an excellent choice. The hostel provides affordable dormitory-style accommodation with private bathrooms and a common area where you can meet fellow travelers. The staff are known for their hospitality and can provide recommendations for local experiences and activities.

Little Charm Hanoi Hostel:

For those seeking a more boutique experience, Little Charm Hanoi Hostel offers a blend of comfort and style. It’s an ideal place to unwind and recharge after a day of exploring the vibrant streets of the Old Quarter.

Read more: Tips for finding the best accommodation.

How to get from Airport to Hanoi Old Quarter

By private transfer

When you arrive at Noi Bai Airport, the last thing you want is to worry about finding transportation to your hotel in the bustling Hanoi Old Quarter. That’s where private transfer comes in to save the day.

With a private transfer service, you’ll have a professional driver waiting for you right at the airport, ready to whisk you away to your destination in style and convenience.

Another benefit of private transfer is its flexibility. You have the freedom to choose the type of vehicle that suits your needs, whether it’s a cozy sedan for solo travelers or a spacious minivan for larger groups. Plus, you can set your own departure time and travel at your preferred pace. No rushing or waiting around for public transportation schedules.

When making your booking, remember to provide your flight details, including your arrival time and flight number. This allows the transfer company to track your flight and adjust the pickup time accordingly, ensuring that your driver is there to greet you, even if there are delays.

While private transfer may have a slightly higher cost compared to other transportation options, the convenience, comfort, and peace of mind it offers are well worth it, especially after a long flight. You’ll arrive at your hotel in the Old Quarter feeling refreshed and ready to embark on your Hanoi adventure!

By bus

If you’re arriving at Hanoi Airport and want an affordable way to reach the Old Quarter, taking the bus is a great option. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Look for the bus station: Once you arrive at Noi Bai International Airport, make your way to the bus station located outside the terminal. Look for signs indicating the bus routes.
  2. Take bus route 86: The recommended bus route to reach the Old Quarter is bus route 86. This high-quality bus service operates between Noi Bai Airport and Hanoi Railway Station, with several stops in the city center, including the Old Quarter.
  3. Pay the fare: The fare for bus route 86 is 30,000 VND per passenger per route. You can pay the driver when boarding the bus. The bus is equipped with amenities such as ample luggage space, Vietnamese and English audio systems, LED displays for route information and free Wi-Fi.
  4. Enjoy the ride: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey. The bus ride from the airport to the Old Quarter usually takes around 50-60 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
best things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter

Bus Detail From Hanoi Center To Airport:

  • Hanoi Train Station -> bus stop opposite the Melia Hotel -> Hanoi Post Office (Buu Dien Bo Ho) -> 23 Hang Tre –> Long Bien Transpoint station (E11) -> bus stop at intersection Yen Phu – Cua Bac -> bus stop at intersection Au Co – Xuan Dieu -> Au Co – Lac Long Quan (468 Au Co) –> VAECO Company –> Terminal 1 -> Terminal 2.

Bus Detail Airport To Hanoi Center:

  • Terminal 1 -> Terminal 2 -> VAECO Company –> Au Co – Lac Long Quan (523 Au Co str)–> Au Co – Xuan Dieu stop -> bus stop at intersection Yen Phu – Cua Bac -> Long Bien Transpoint station -> 142 Tran Quang Khai –> Hanoi Opera House -> Hanoi Melia Hotel -> Hanoi Train Station.

How to get to Hanoi Old Quarter from other places?

You can get to Hanoi Old Quarter easily by taxi or Grab. Also, renting a bike is a convenient option to get to the old town.

Going by bus is a cheap option, but it can be time-consuming and inconvenient when you visit Hanoi for the first time.

  • Bus number 09, 14, 36 to Hoan Kiem lake
  • Bus No. 31 to Dong Xuan Market
  • Bus numbers: 03, 11, 18, 22, 34, 40 to the gate of Quan Chuong

Final thoughts

Whether it’s savoring a steaming bowl of Pho, wandering through bustling streets, or enjoying the lively nightlife, Hanoi Old Quarter offers many experiences that will leave you craving to return.

So, get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the captivating Hanoi Old Quarter. You’re in for a treat!

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Hanoi Old Quarter Vietnam.

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  1. Sinjana Ghosh says:

    Thanks a lot for this amazing travel guide. I love the fact that you gave important information about reaching point a to point b via public transport. Makes it super useful for foreign tourists who don’t want to rent car

  2. This is a great guide to Hanoi, thanks for sharing all the information. I love the look of Hoan Kiem lake with that old building in the middle, looks so cool. I love the food in Vietnam but it’s always good to have some recommendations. The Trang Tien ice-cream sounds interesting.

  3. Hanoi Old Quarter is one of the most charming places I have visited and would love to go back again for the culture and food! I would agree when you say that the streets at the Hanoi Old Quarter have retained the inherent cultural values. Never paid attention to the history of the place and happy to have discovered it here. It has made me see the Hanoi Old Quarter with new perspective. Made a note of Hanoi Backpacker Hostel for our next visit there!

    1. It’s great to hear that you had a good time in Hanoi Old Quarter :)

  4. It’s wonderful that they were able to maintain the architecture of the old houses. It’s a little disappointing though that some streets of the Hanoi Old Quarter no longer sell their specialties. When I visit a place, I always look for its specialties no matter how trivial it could be. I loved the three places you suggested to visit and the list of must-try food! Overall, you made a great guide! I’ll pin this for future reference. :)

  5. umiko Silalahi says:

    It’s interesting that the city’s street named after what the merchants used to sell. Too bad they don’t follow it anymore, but it’s understandable with all the developments of the city. The old houses captured my attention, too. The kind of architecture that is always bring me to the past.

    1. It’s a pity that some streets don’t sell their original products anymore, but it’s still lovely to wander around.

  6. Oriental Suites and Spa looks exactly like my kind of accommodation. I’m so sad I missed seeing Hanoi when I was in Vietnam; it’s so beautiful. I adore pho, especially on a wintry cold day. Egg coffee is something I’d love to try, and this lake is so ethereal! Just perfect.

  7. Daniel Kiteski says:

    Hanoi is an absolutely amazing city and one of my personal favorites in Southeast Asia. The city has it all, from beautiful lakes and nature, through historic monuments, to wild nightlife. However, the Old Quarter is my favorite part of the city!

  8. MEENAKSHI J says:

    Love the old town captures the most…Never heard of pipe architecture, though! I am intrigued to know more about this now. This is a complete guide for the first timer and a really comprehensive one!

  9. Bhushavali N says:

    I really hope to visit the eastern countries in 2020 which ofcourse includes Vietnam!
    As someone who likes Heritage, I’m sure I’ll be fascinated by the Old Quarter.
    Reg., the must try street food, is there any of it that’s vegetarian???

  10. Ha Noi is a very beautiful city. when I go to Vietnam I always try to go there.

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