What to see in Hanoi Old Quarter?

Peaceful Hanoi Old Quarter stays in the heart of the bustling capital, this place owns an ancient beauty that lasts forever with years, making it difficult for lots of tourists to forget.

This area where the Hanoian has lived and sold a lot of products, the quarter’s also called 36 Pho Phuong – 36 towns and districts. Typically, each street here or each town sells one type of specific products.

hanoi old quarter
A beautiful corner in the old town. Photo: Huy Phan/pexels

Come with us to start exploring this town!

1. General information

The limited scope of the old town is defined as follows: to the east are Tran Nhat Duat and Tran Quang Khai streets, to the west is Phung Hung street, to the south are Hang Thung – Hang Gai, Hang Bong, and Cau Go roads, and to the North is Hang Dau.

Typically, every street in the ancient area has different old craft streets such as Hang Bong Street specializing in cotton blankets, Hang Ma selling votive products, and Hang Quat specializing in traditional costumes and performing tools,…

Hanoi Old Quarter has an area of ​​only about 100ha with 10 wards and 76 streets. Just coming here, you will feel like you are back in the previous centuries of an ancient lifestyle. So, the old town has become a valuable property preserved by the local government.

During the Ly – Tran dynasties in the 11th century, this quarter used to be the neighborhood where trade activities of the ancient capital Thang Long took place. The houses here were built in the classical architectural style and shared the same style with slanted tile roofs, small tube houses, and popular yellow paint.

2. Attractions to visit in the old quarter

Becoming the most visited tourist attraction in the capital, Hanoi Old Quarter possesses a typical beauty that is rarely found anywhere else. To start visiting this area, you can start from Hoan Kiem Lake, then enter the old streets.

2.1 Dong Xuan market

dong xuan market
In front of the market. @simon_0208

When mentioning the markets in Hanoi, many people will immediately think of the Dong Xuan market. This shopping area was originally built in 1804 on the south side of the To Lich river, but in 1889 the market was cleared by the French colonialists, and moved all the markets in Dong Xuan ward, from which the name Dong Xuan market formed.

In 1995, after suffering a big fire, the market was remodeled with a total area of ​​up to 14,000m2 and 2,000 different stalls. To this day, Dong Xuan market is still the largest one in Hanoi and is also a popular shopping destination for most tourists visiting the capital.

2.2 O Quan Chuong

o quan chuong gate
An old gate in Hanoi. @chriswood8713

O Quan Chuong, also called Hanoi Old Gate, is located at the intersection of Hang Chieu and Dao Duy Tu streets. This gate is one of the long-standing symbols of witnessing the heroic years of the nation. O Quan Chuong was built in 1749, about 80m from the Red River, where trade activities between large and small markets take place.

This old gate has two storeys with a height of about 3m and 3 doors (1 main door in the middle and two side doors on both sides). The bricks used to build this construction have many similarities with the bricks used to erect the Temple of Literature. These bricks have large sizes combined with stone, so they are extremely durable; perhaps this reason can help O Quan Chuong sustainable to this day.

>>> Please see a nearby attraction: Hoa Lo prision.

2.3 Bach Ma Temple

bach ma temple hanoi
The holy temple in Hanoi. @lulaleung12

Bach Ma Temple is located at 76 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, which is the oldest temple in this city, dating from the last years of the 9th century. This place worships the gods Long Do, Bach Ma Dai Vuong, and Thang Long Thanh Hoang.

Hundreds of years ago, Bach Ma Temple was famous, so many kings often visited on each Lunar New Year occasion to pray for national peace, prosperity, and happiness. Today, this holy site is still a spiritual fulcrum that the Hanoian people come to worship every year.

2.4 Ngoc Son Temple

ngoc son temple
The gate to enter Ngoc Son Temple. @kenumi1218

Built in 1841 of the 19th century, Ngoc Son Temple worships Van De Quan (the god of good fortune and fame), Hung Dao Dai Vuong Tran Quoc Tuan (the great national hero), the Buddhas, and the Holy Mother Tam Hoa.

Coming here, you will admire the typical architecture including 8 square roofs, 2 floors, 8 supporting columns, and 3 main houses connected together, which shows the style of architecture in the Northern region.

Ngoc Son Temple is most crowded on the first and full moon days of each month. And, don’t forget to look and get a few beautiful photos with The Huc Bridge, which stands out with its perennial red color. And, please note when entering the temple, it is better to use the two doors on both sides, do not take pictures inside or point at the statues.

2.5 Hang Ma street

hang ma street hanoi
Taking a nice picture in Hang Ma. @thaoo.pp

700m from Hoan Kiem Lake and about 1km from Dong Xuan Market, Hang Ma Street stays at the intersection with Hang Duong, Hang Chieu, Hang Ngang and Phung Hung streets. Hang Ma road has been famous for the production and trading of paper products such as votive papers, and decorations for major holidays.

This lovely street with its prime location has become a shopping and entertainment area for young Hanoians. Now, this road sells more items, if you want to find decorative things for your house for holidays, New Year, and birthday parties, you can go to Hang Ma Street.

Typically, on Tet holidays this street is changed into a new colorful shirt with lots of red lanterns, decorative lights, and peach blossoms. This area becomes a place for taking pictures for many Hanoians on major holidays in Vietnam.

2.6 Ma May ancient house

ma may ancient house

There are many old houses in the sections of the old quarter of Hanoi, but the most famous one is house number 87 Ma May, staying is the North of Hoan Kiem Lake. The house was built in the 19th century with an area of ​​about 150m2. After many years of existence, the old house was restored in 1998 and recognized as a national heritage in 2004.

This old house owns an ancient architectural style, imbued with the culture of the old Hanoi people. Now this place has become a famous place to visit for many tourists. In the evening, you can also enjoy the Ca Tru performances which becomes a traditional art in North Vietnam.

2.7 Ta Hien Beer Street

ta hien beer street
So fun in Ta Hien street. @hanhjuli

Ta Hien Beer Street is known as the area that never sleeps in the heart of Hanoi, with a length of nearly 270m. This place becomes the focal point of gathering for many tourists every night.

>> Please check more the beauty of Hanoi at night.

Today, Ta Hien Street attracts tourists because it possesses a modern beauty mixed with a bit of nostalgia for old Hanoi. Specifically, it is most beautiful in the evening with colorful lights and plenty of beer shops. Joining the bustling atmosphere is an exciting activity when you have a chance to visit Hanoi.

2.8 Hoan Kiem lake

daily life at hoan kiem lake
A lovely daily like around the lake. @found_vu

Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is a freshwater lake associated with the development of the Hanoi capital. Referring to Hanoi, people will immediately think of this lake become it becomes the symbol in the heart of most people here. At the weekends, the area around the lake becomes a walking space for lots of interesting activities.

This natural freshwater lake situates in a central location, at the intersection between Hang Dao, Hang Ngang and Luong Van Can Streets. Hoan Kiem Lake has an area of ​​about 12 hectares, with a depth of about 1-1.4m. The lake attracts attention by Turtle Island in the middle of the lake and the hundreds of years of ancient Turtle tower.

After visiting the lake, you can come to the Water Puppet theater which performs a typical art show in Vietnam. This art presents the agricultural culture of the Vietnamese. Most travelers are surprised by the talent of using puppets in the water. There are many shows per day for tourists to choose to enjoy the performance: 13:45 – 15:00 – 16:10 – 17:20 – 18:30 – 20:00 or 21h15 and Sunday morning: 9:30 AM.

water puppet show hanoi

>>> Visit another traditional place: Bat Trang pottery village.

With its location in the heart of the capital, you can move to Hanoi Old Quarter by most of the popular means such as motorbikes, cars, taxis, and buses if you stay at the hotels outside of this section. Besides, many hotels also locate in this old region for you to spend your overnight. La la la… as staying in this area, that is great to enjoy the ancient atmosphere.

For exploring the ancient quarter of Hanoi, it is better to walk or hire a motorbike with a driver. If you use a car, you can park somewhere near the lake, then walk into the old section. And, do not forget to taste many great local foods in Hanoi to enrich your time in this city.

Also, check more the beautiful attractions in Hanoi to continue your journeys here.

About the author


Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.