Hanoi Local Markets
One striking characteristic of Southeast Asia is its traditional markets. They can be easily established in any available space within the community, with vendors laying out their goods on makeshift stalls or street pavements. Despite international retail chains taking over many parts of the region, traditional markets are still prevalent in some areas. In Vietnam, local markets play a vital role in daily life and are a must-see attraction when visiting Hanoi. The three best markets to visit in Hanoi are the Dong Xuan Market, Chau Long Market, and Hanoi weekend night market. These three markets in Hanoi are always buzzing with excitement and have become an ideal destination for both Vietnamese people and tourists.
Dong Xuan Market
Hanoi Local Markets are always bustling with hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, quality textiles, and household, which makes them common spots for visitors to experience the daily lives of the city’s local population. Dong Xuan is one of the largest markets in Hanoi and is in the heart of the Old Quarter. It is not only a market for the local people but also a very appealing destination for tourists. Built-in 1889 by the French colonial administration to replace the Cau Dong (Eastern Bridge) Market situated to the east, the Dong Xuan Market is close to the Tô Lịch River. Dong Xuan market is one of the most crowded wholesale markets in Hanoi. Nowadays, Dong Xuan Market has become a busy trade center that attracts buyers from France, Spain, India and other countries.
Considered as the biggest indoor local market in Hanoi, Dong Xuan market has a lot of diversified goods and offers a cheap and expensive version of each item. The market sells many different items from foods like candy, wine, fresh or dried seafood to clothes, shoes, handbags, and so on. In the charming tourist sites in Hanoi, many small markets such as Hang Da market, Mo market, Nga Tu market is open but none of these markets sells many kinds of items like Dong Xuan market. Dong Xuan Market is full of everyday goods such as bowls, cups, plastic items to rare items such as silk, brocade, nest and so on. Visitors to the market can admire rare items and choose to buy unique products and gifts such as mushrooms, forest shoots, jams, peaches or Nhat Le. There are even some items in Dong Xuan which customers cannot purchase at other markets. The market comprises of three floors, each floor selling a different item. The first floor is the place to buy electronic items, home appliances, clothing, and souvenirs. The second floor of the market primarily sells materials used for clothes. The third floor includes many clothes for children as well as fashionable clothes for men and women. Besides the souvenir area, the market also has a separate area specializing in selling items unique to Hanoi such as vermicelli, noodles, rice noodles, sticky rice, thick rice, and other rice. It is an attractive place where many visitors come to eat and enjoy the original specialities of Hanoi.
Low price commodities are an important part of the Dong Xuan market. As a wholesale market, it supplies products for retail shops in Hanoi and nearby provinces. Thus, the price of products at Dong Xuan market is the original cost which is lower than other markets and local shops. You won’t have to bargain traders when buying goods from Dong Xuan market, which is why commercial activities are done quickly at the market. Because the market is very large, it is not difficult for the customer to go sightseeing and go shopping at Dong Xuan market since the market is sectioned. Each section has its own item. For example, shoes and sandals are sold on the first floor, and clothing is sold on the second floor.
Coming to Hanoi Local Markets, for example, Dong Xuan Market, visitors will have better opportunities to experience unique dishes. On the side of the market, there is Dong Xuan Alley which is a real heaven for tourists addicted to local street food. Dong Xuan has well-known places that sell grilled pork on the bamboo stick in Hanoi. It has a fantastic version of Bun Cha, recently made famous when visited by President Obama. The dish is made in a traditional style. The pork is covered in guise leaves, clipped ơn bamboo flat sticks and grilled over charcoal. In addition, it is served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a lightly sour dipping source. The price for each bowl is only~VND30,000 to35,000. What an unforgettable experience!
Located in the “culinary paradise” of Dong Xuan market, Pho restaurants have been open for about 40 years and are always crowded with diners. A full bowl of pho includes pho, thinly sliced char siu, dry onions, crushed roasted peanuts and herbs. However, five types of sauces with new heirloom recipes are the highlight of this dish. After mixing well, visitors can add chilli and garlic vinegar to enjoy. Pho has a harmonious taste of sour, spicy, salty and sweet with a little fat. A bowl costs VND25,000, or just a little more than $1.
Nộm bò khô (dried beef salad) is one of the popular dishes in Dong Xuan Market. Savouring the utter spiciness of chilli, the spicy-sweet of dried beef, the crispiness of julienned green papaya, the pungent flavour of herbs and the nutty taste of roasted peanut, you are bound to enjoy how diverse the dishes. The most crucial ingredient, indeed, is dried beef. It is cut into big thin slices, soaked with seasoning including salt, sugar, garlic, oil, ginger, chilli for about one night, then dried off by putting it into the oven. Green papaya and carrot are pickled, sliced into julienned strips and drained off, then blended with coarsely chopped herbs. The sweet and sour sauce is indispensable. A colourful dish with beautiful taste and aroma satisfies all gourmets. A VND35,000 portion will make you ask for more.
Wet Market – Chau Long Market
For Vietnamese, the local markets are also where they can exchange news; where vendors know their customers so well, they can share everything with each other or pass the time of day. Traditionally, Vietnamese people purchase fresh groceries a few times per day, which is so different from other nations where people go to the supermarket maybe once or twice per week. Therefore, wet markets are also more convenient because people do not have to park their bikes to buy food. Local markets in Hanoi, typically, Chau Long market is known as a wet market at the heart of the capital. It has become one of those shiny shopping centers. Chau Long Market is a typical sample of an everyday wet market in Hanoi. You should come early for the full experience, or a little later in the morning for a more relaxed experience. It is located towards the north of Hanoi Old Quarter, at Chau Long Street (Ba Dinh District), near Truc Bach Lake. Local Hanoi people visit their market in the early morning and late afternoon to prepare meals, most of them are older women as they have plenty of time. Traditional Vietnamese cooking meals are made from very fresh ingredients, so we visit the market quite often (once or twice a day).
Thus, in the morning, you will find many retired women visit the local market to buy food. In the afternoon, there will be more office women visiting the market on the way back home. The market supplies food for thousands of locals living around. The space is dark and wet, and you will need to keep your eyes peeled to dodge the motorbikes zipping along the narrow aisles. Still, it’s atmospheric, eye-opening, and educational. You will discover many food merchants selling fresh chicken, ducks, an array of seafood, fishes, and all kinds of meat cuts along with many other colourful fruit and veggies. In another corner, there is some local shop for noodles, rice, oils, and fish sauces. Each corner of the market has a kind of unique smell that you will never find in a supermarket or modern shop.
Visiting Hanoi, many people are told about Dong Xuan Market as Hanoi’s largest covered market. Dong Xuan market is a wholesale Market offering a wide range of goods as souvenirs, accessories, clothes, household appliances, and so on while Chau Long market is a smaller one and known as a wet market, a very traditional market that suites local needs with food ingredients, some footwear shops, and dry foods. Thus, Chau Long market is a more local place for you to discover a part of Hanoi’s life.
Hanoi Weekend night market – A special highlight of Hanoi
When in Hanoi, you should not miss one of the liveliest areas – Hanoi Local Market such as the Night Market. It is particular to note that the market is only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. The length of the market area is around 3 kilometres from Hang Dao Street to Hang Giay Street. Coming to the night market, visitors will be immersed in a dynamic and great atmosphere. On important holidays such as Mid-Autumn, Tet Holiday or Christmas, there are many things to be purchased, and visitors usually stop to see. You will feel overwhelmed by a vibrant and appalling dining paradise. You can freely choose a variety of Vietnamese dishes, from famous Hanoi food to Korean dishes or Asian European style dishes. The dishes that the young people love are fried spring rolls, grilled skewers, snails, rice cakes, Korean rice rolls, Tokbokki, tea, and smoothies. The price of food is quite reasonable, so it attracts lots of young people as well as tourists to gather and chat with friends.
For Vietnamese, local markets are not only a place to exchange goods but also an important part of local culture. Visiting the three markets highlighted above will enrich your experience in Hanoi and create unforgettable memories.