Hanoi Old Quarter

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Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter is the heart of Hanoi – the most popular place to explore when you’re in the capital city. But, even inside this well-known place, many things will surprise you! Let’s go with us to discover!


The Hanoi Old Quarter is a collective term for 76 streets in Hoan Kiem District, right beside Hoan Kiem Lake and overlooking the Red River. This area was then the residential and commercial center of Hanoi. However, it has a more beloved name called “36 phố phường” (“36 streets”). The name originates from the main 36 guild streets that the old quarter developed from.


If you ever have the chance to visit Hanoi, there is almost 100% percent that you will stay at a hotel inside the old quarter. Therefore, no worries because the place is just a few steps away!

But if you don’t, no problem! You can get there by any means of transport – the bus, car, taxi and motorbike. Every driver here knows the place!

A brief history

History - Hanoi Old Quarter

History – Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi old quarter’s history dates back to the 11th century. Merchants and craftsmen then follow boats along the Red River to the capital Thang Long (now Hanoi) to sell their products. They use the large area right on the Red River bank to make a center for commerce.

After settling down in one street, they started selling their unique products on that very street, gradually forming the main 36 streets of guild and more. This continued to the French colonization when the French began to shape the area closer into what it is today.

Now, there are not many ancient buildings remaining. Many of the streets don’t sell their original products from back then anymore either. However, the old quarter still carries on being the center and a place for visitors to learn the long history of the capital city Hanoi.


What to do

Wandering around the streets

When you arrive in Hanoi old quarter, of course, you’d want to step right into discovering the busiest area of Hanoi. You can either walk, take the cyclo (a tricycle “taxi”) tour, or take the electric bus tour. And while the cyclo and electric bus tour are both good choices, a walking tour by yourself – either guided or not – will give you more freedom. You can even reach the smallest alleys and find out an unexpectedly good coffee shop or restaurant at the corner of a lesser-known, distant street. 

Visiting the most famous tourist attractions

While taking a stroll down the streets, you will notice a lot of famous tourist attractions. Having survived many changes in history, each of these attractions is a historical, architectural and cultural symbol of Hanoi. From the closer Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, to the further Dong Xuan Market and Long Bien Bridge, etc.  – you can either visit some or all of them if you have time! Just remember to group them by location for more convenience when moving from place to place!


Shopping is like a “must” must-do in Hanoi old quarter – the biggest shopping heaven in the capital city. Clothes, accessories or souvenirs, fresh food or traditional herbs/spices, we have it all. Enjoy buying kinds of stuff from a variety of shops right on the main streets, and the food at the local market or food stalls! We even have the bustling night market on weekend nights for you, just right around Hoan Kiem Lake. And if you want the wholesale business, Dong Xuan Market is the place to go!

Enjoying the quintessential Vietnamese food and drinks

You can’t say that you’ve tried everything at the old quarter without mentioning the food and drinks. As the home to most of the best dishes in Hanoi, it offers you hundreds of kinds of different food. Do you want phở or bún chả, beer or coffee? No problem! Not only the most internationally known ones, here you also have the golden opportunity to taste the more domestic, authentic Vietnamese food and drinks. Phở on Ly Quoc Su Street and egg coffee on Nguyen Huu Huan Street are some good starts!


That’s pretty much all of the most interesting things about the Hanoi Old Quarter and what to do there! How are you feeling at the moment? Do you want to take a free, fun and fascinating tour with us to the area? Click here to book right now!