Vendor carrying his Yoke, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

Have you been to a place where if you want to purchase a certain item, say shoes, all you have to do is go to Shoe Street and you will find an array of shops selling only shoes?  Sounds convenient,  isn’t it.  We found such a place in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

The Old Quarter is the historic soul of Hanoi and is defined by fascinating labyrinth of ancient streets buzzing with commerce. The street names literally translate into the name of trade it specializes in such as Silk Street, Herbal Medicine Street, Blacksmith Street, Bamboo Street, Sugar Street, Dried Fish Street, etc. These streets have long history.


In the 13th century, the skilled craftsmen who migrated to Hanoi from outlying villages formed cooperatives or guilds among artisans specializing in the same trade.  Each of the guild had a designated street in the Old Quarter where its members could live, build workshops and sell their trades.  Today, the original layout of the streets still exists.  Many of them still specialized in the original crafts they were named after and some now specialized in more modern merchandise.


Sandals spilling on the sidewalk of the shoe lane.

Herbal store, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam Follow your nose and you will find your way to Lang Ong, the herbal street where the exotic aroma emanating from the herbal products will delight your senses.

Vermicelli Vendor, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam   A vendor on Pho Hang Bun, the vermicelli street.

Fruit vendor, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam  A fruit vendor at a local street market.

Fruit Vendor on a Bike, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam The streets of Old Quarter are also filled with roaming vendors like this fruit vendor who ply her trade by bike.

Flower Vendor, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam  A vendor in Pho Cau Go, the colorful flower street.

Rope store, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam One of the stores that lined the street specializing in ropes and straw mats. It must be a slow day.

Sleeping girl, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam At one of the stores on the aluminum street, we found the adorable daughter of the shopowner peacefully sleeping on a cashier’s desk.

Hang Thiec Street, the Tinbox Makers Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

A man working on his craft on Pho Hang Thiec, the tin-maker street.

Tinboxes for sale in Pho Hang Thiec Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam Finished tin products for sale at one of the stores on the tin-maker street.

Lo Ren, the Blacksmith Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamWe found Lo Ren, the blacksmith street, the noisiest street in the quarter.

Paper Product Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam Hang Ma street specializes in paper products used for wedding celebration.

Silk stores in Hang Gai Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam The most popular street in Old Quarter for tourist is Hang Gai, the silk street, where one can buy ready-made or tailored silk clothing, beddings, scarfs, etc.  The street is lined by tiny storefronts to large high-end silk shops.

Buddhist Altar store, Pho Hang Quat, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam This is one of the shops in Pho Hang Quat, the feather fan street. However, feather fans are no longer made and sold here. The street now specializes in religious altars and statues.

Buddhist statues store, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam These are the classic examples of “tubular houses” in the Old Quarter. They are long and very narrow. The front of the house normally functions as a shop and the family lives in the back portion of the house.  They were designed as such because the properties in the Old Quarter were and still are taxed based on the width of the frontage.

20_House 102 Temple, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam When the craftsmen from the villages moved to the area, they brought with them their religious practices, hence, the Old Quarter is steeped with rich religious heritage.  Each guild built a temple or two on their designated street.

19_Old temple, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

 Some of the temples have been converted into living quarters or shops but their exteriors  still look like a religious structure.

Market Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam The Market Sreet.

Crabs for Sale in Dong Xuan Market Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam Live crabs for sale on Market Street.

Street Food, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam Locals come to the Old Quarter not only to shop but also to eat!

 Street Food Stall, Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamIn the Old Quarter, the street is your restaurant.

Street cafe, Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamA cafe spills on a pavement.

Food stall, Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamEven pets love to dine on the streets of Old Quarter, literally.

Street food in Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamWe joked that if you give locals a portable stove and few plastic chairs, they can create an eatery out of any space. Locals love their food and they’ll have it anywhere.

Pho Ta Hien, Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamIf you’re not into street food, you can head to Po Tha Hien, a street lined with restaurants popular with tourist. It is also popular for after-dark bars and lounges.

Bikes and Tuktuk in Old Quarter, Hanoi, VietnamYes, the streets of Old Quarter are tight and congested but the more you explore them more you find their charm.

St. Joseph Cathedral, Old Quarter, HanoiWe ended our exploration of the Old Quarter on the quiet street in front of St. Joseph Cathedral, one of the landmarks in the Old Quarter and the oldest Roman Catholic church in Hanoi. We were overwhelmed by the streets of the Old Quarter but we were charmed as well. Yes, it’s commercialized, touristy in many parts, but it’s still very exotic for a city and somehow endearing.


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Travel Notes:
  • We followed the walking tour in Lonely Planet Vietnam with modifications.
  • We stayed at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and we highly recommend it. It is located in beautiful, peaceful, and convenient area. The rooms are beautiful and spacious and the level of service is topnotch.


Linking to Travel Photo Thursday and The Tablescaper.

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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

37 responses to “The Streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jan, we were amazed that after all the centuries and with advent of tourism in the area, the streets manage to retain its old world charm and exotic characters.

  1. KIira

    Hi guys, interesting info and shots about the streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. I had not idea how it was like. Thanks for taking m there.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Kira, glad you enjoyed exploring the Old Quarter with us.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Johanna, it is so colorful indeed. It was interesting to browse through the merchadise, especially those that are not so ordinary for us.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Mary, thanks! The silk street is definitely one to avoid if you don’t have any self-control:) So many beautiful things in there that are to resist.

  2. Leigh

    When I was in Hanoi it was cold and miserable so we didn’t walk the city the way I normally would. I’m so sorry to have missed the vermicelli street and the herbal street. We did eat at local hole in the walls and loved watching the world pass us by. Truly lovely photos.
    Leigh recently posted..Hiking in Colombia: A Big Valley & Strange VegetationMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Leigh, oh that’s too bad about the rain. I hope you get to return and be able to walk around the Old Quarter. It truly is fascinating. At least you got to enjoy the local food. Aren’t they glorious?

    • Traveling Solemates

      HI Jenny, if you love market you will definitely enjoy the labyrinth streets of the Old Quarter. You’ll be fascinated with fusion of its modern and medieval atmosphere.

  3. So very exotic!

    Great to have you at “Oh, the PLACES I’ve been!”

    – The Tablescaper

  4. Lulu

    I was recently in Hanoi and visited some of these same places. I would have loved to have had more time there. You got some great street shots.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thanks Lulu.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thanks Robin.

  5. your shots are exquisite, and you captured so many incredible images, the daughter sleeping is my favorite. what a delight to travel with you, you have and excellent eye for photography~

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. Hey Marisol – any tips for us in terms of dealing with the locals? I’ve heard some crazy stories about the hassle and rips offs and scams that happen in Hanoi and although we’re pretty experienced travelers, any information would be helpful! We’re used to dealing with touts, having been to Morocco and Egypt, but apparently it’s a whole new different level of hassle in Vietnam!
    Taking to the Open Road recently posted..4 Days in Madrid and SurroundsMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Peggy, i’ve been to Vietnam twice and I didn’t have any negative experience dealing with the locals. We didn’t encounter any touts like in Morocco. We found them nice and gentle people. But of course, like anywhere, you have to use your common sense and instinct while on the road.

  7. It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of information.
    I’m satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing. recently posted..kreidlauretta.soup.ioMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Graham, thanks! Glad you enjoyed the photos. It truly is a fantastic city. We also miss the food and the atmosphere.

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