Exploring Hanoi on Foot: A Guided Walking Tour

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Hanoi, Ha Noi
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7 months ago

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     The Old Quarter of Hanoi, established in the 11th century, has a rich history spanning over a millennium. It used to be a bustling trading center, home to skilled craftsmen and businessmen who traded their goods in closely packed shops along the narrow streets. Each street specialized in selling specific goods, and they were named accordingly for the convenience of both sellers and buyers.

     The Old Quarter Hanoi is also known by various names, including the trading quarter and the 36-streets, though the most commonly used term remains the Old Quarter.

     Today, some streets in the 36-street quarter still retain their traditional identities, reflecting the goods they sell. For example, Bat Su Street is known for china bowls, Cha Ca Street for roasted fish, Hang Bac for jewelry, Hang Dau for shoes and sandals, Hang Gai for silks, Hang Luoc for combs, Hang Duong for candies and dried fruits, and Hang Buom for bamboo products.

     To explore this historic Old Quarter, you now have options like cyclo trips or electric buggies, but the best way to truly experience its charm is on foot. Wander through the bustling neighborhood, meander along winding lanes, and take in the vibrant atmosphere. Feel free to stop by local cafes for a cup of coffee or indulge in some delicious street food. Don't hesitate to strike up a conversation with friendly locals if you get the chance.

     For your walking tour, you can plan your route using the suggestions below. If your hotel is nearby, you can start directly from the Old Quarter. However, if you're staying far away, it's recommended to begin your journey from the Temple of Literature, allowing you to extend your tour to cover both the temple and the Old Quarter.

     The estimated walking time may vary depending on your pace and interest in exploring the details, but generally, you should allocate a few hours. It's advisable to discreetly study the map and plan your turns ahead of time when approaching intersections. The early morning or late afternoon are the best times to capture the dynamic colors of the Old Quarter's architecture and vibrant produce in the markets.

     Keep in mind the weather conditions during your visit. Bring a hat or umbrella to prepare for the rainy season or high temperatures in the summer.

     Below are the key stops on the walking tour:

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  1. Temple of Literature: Established in 1070, this Confucian temple is home to Vietnam's first national university, the Imperial Academy. It is dedicated to Confucius, sages, and scholars.

  2. Vietnam Fine Art Museum: Showcasing Vietnam's fine arts from various historical periods, this museum features 20th-century art portraying the nation's defense, patriotism, and overcoming adversity.

  3. Hanoi Flag Tower: An architectural gem within the Hanoi Citadel, it serves as a historic symbol of the city.

  4. Saint Joseph's Cathedral: This Roman Catholic cathedral, built in Gothic style, is over 120 years old and continues to hold religious activities.

  5. Ly Quoc Su Street: Lined with clothes shops and featuring the Ly Quoc Su Temple, an ancient architectural marvel erected during the Ly Dynasty.

  6. Hang Gai Street: Once a hemp outlet, it now boasts boutique shops, galleries, and silk tailors.

  7. Hang Quat Street: Known for shops selling Buddha statues and fans, with an atmospheric charm.

  8. Hang Can - Cha Ca Street: Named after the famous dish "Cha Ca," this street is a must-visit for gastronomy enthusiasts.

  9. Lan Ong Street: A fascinating part of the Old Quarter, known for its ethnic Chinese enclave selling herbs and medicines from centuries-old storefronts.

  10. Hang Duong Street: A street lined with traditional constructions, featuring a stunning communal house and bustling markets on weekends.

  11. Dong Xuan Market: Hanoi's largest wholesale market, offering diverse goods and street-food stalls.

  12. Old East Gate (O Quang Chuong): The only surviving gate of the Thang Long citadel, representing Hanoi's ancient history.

  13. Hang Buom Street: Once a docking area for local merchant vessels, it now features colonial buildings and the Bach Ma Temple.

  14. Ma May Street: Located in the bustling budget tourist area, it showcases traditional and colonial buildings, including the Huong Tuong Communal House and Heritage House Hanoi.

  15. Luong Ngoc Quyen: A venue for snack food stalls, where you can enjoy traditional cakes and join locals for a beer.

  16. Hang Bac Street: Known as the "Silver Street," this area houses silver and gold jewelry makers and sellers, along with various goods and services.

  17. Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple: Take a leisurely tour around the lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple, ending your walking tour on a delightful note. Relax at a lakeside cafe, savor an ice cream, or enjoy a water puppet show.

     While some old streets like Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, or Hang Ma have not been covered in this tour, you can save them for a night trip when the streets come alive with street-food stalls and souvenir shops, adorned with twinkling red lanterns on Hang Ma Street.

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