July 4, 2020
LEY - Old Quarter

10 Things I Love About Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Probably one of the most exciting places in the whole of Ha Noi is the popular Old Quarter in the Hoan Kiem District. Featuring the chaotic but beautiful street life of Ha Noi, the Old Quarter is the city’s main business, tourist, and food hub. Some of the major characteristics of the famous Old Quarter include the cramped dining spots, the super busy night and shopping markets, the colorful rickshaws, the crowded streets, and the tons of people just walking around and doing their own thing. All these make the Old Quarter a must-visit spot in the Vietnamese capital. In fact, no trip to Ha Noi would ever be complete without a trip or two to this bustling but endearing local cultural gem.

With that said, lemme tell you ten great reasons why I always made it a point (when I was still living in Vietnam) to visit the Old Quarter every single week.

The Chaotic Stroll

I’m pretty sure a chaotic stroll isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But once you’re there, and you get to experience the excitement, the drama, and the total chaos, I’m sure that you will find that it is so worth it. I personally enjoy long strolls especially when I see fresh and new things along the way. And the Old Quarter is just perfect for that.

Early morning at the Old Quarter

Unlimited Shopping

If you can’t decide what to bring home to your family and friends, be sure to drop by the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is a treasure chest of gift ideas that are both nice and affordable. All the souvenirs that I brought home from Vietnam and gave out to family and friends were actually from the Old Quarter.

A backpack shop at the Old Quarter

It Has Everything You Could Ever Need

The Old Quarter is not just about souvenirs and gift items, however. The district basically has EVERYTHING that you could ever need. From food ingredients to hair clips and wigs, the Old Quarter is a perfect one-stop-shop. Aside from amazing souvenir items, I also usually visit the Old Quarter to buy clothes and shoes.

Things can be quite slow in the morning at the Old Quarter. The afternoon, however, is an entirely different story.

You Get to Meet People from All Walks of Life

The Old Quarter is basically Hanoi’s melting pot. As one of the Vietnamese capital’s most visited destinations, the Old Quarter is frequented by both locals and visitors alike. If you stroll around this district, you will surely meet people from all corners of the world. With that said, I’m pretty sure you’ll also meet Pinoys somewhere along the way.

This Amazing Food Alley

The Ngõ Đồng Xuân or Dong Xuan Alley is a small alley right next to the Cho Dong Xuan Market – Hanoi’s biggest covered market. Both visitors and locals visit this famous alley for its many amazing culinary offerings. When I was in Vietnam, I personally made it a point to visit this alley once a week for my most favorite Vietnamese dish.

My most favorite spot in the entire Old Quarter
Interesting dishes you can try at the Ngo Dong Xuan
This delicious dessert with mango and coconuts is also one of my most favorite snacks.

The Char Siu Pork

The Pho Tiu or the Char Siu Pork is one of the many items you will find at the Dong Xuan Food Alley. This dish is very similar (in terms of ingredients) to a lot of noodle dishes available in the area. The unique overall taste of the dish, however, makes it my most favorite Vietnamese dish of all time. Do not miss it!

Char siu pork noodle
Look for these ladies in pink. They’re the only ones selling the Char Siu Pork in the area.

These Colorful Rickshaws

If walking for miles isn’t your thing, you can always choose to explore the Old Quarter on a colorful rickshaw. For a couple of dollars, you get to ride on the rickshaw and experience the Old Quarter and enjoy its many exciting sights by just simply being seated.

Colorful rickshaws at the Old Quarter

It is a Cultural Trip

A trip to the Old Quarter is actually also a quick lesson on Vietnamese history and culture. If you’re a keen observer, you will easily notice the different elements and influences on Ha Noi’s architecture, lifestyle, and cuisine that make the city unique and truly a must-visit.

Hidden Dining Destinations

The structures at the Old Quarter are built so close to each other that a lot of them can be hidden from plain sight. And this is exactly what makes the Old Quarter even more interesting. It has tons of shopping and dining destinations that are hidden from plain view. But don’t worry, the locals are very friendly. Just ask for the nearest ‘egg coffee’ or ‘bun cha’ place and they’ll point you in the right direction.

A lot of restaurants are hidden from plain view at the Old Quarter

You Get More for Less!

As one of the biggest shopping districts in the country, the Old Quarter is swarming with both buyers and sellers. If you want more value for your money, be on the look out for these ladies selling their stuff on foot. Their products are usually not only fresh and delicious, but they are also a whole lot cheaper.

Vendors at the Old Quarter

Check out my other Vietnam stories below:

Walking Around Bac Ninh City in Northern Vietnam

A Look Inside the Vietnam Military History Museum

How I Found Hanoi’s One Pillar Pagoda by Chance

In Photos: The Cho Dong Xuan (Dong Xuan Market) in Hanoi, Vietnam

Exploring the Lý Bát Đế Temple in Bac Ninh, Vietnam

Hanoi on Foot: Journey Through the Streets of the Vietnamese Capital

A Closer Look at Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake

Welcoming the Lunar New Year in Lạng Sơn, Vietnam

A Memorable Journey to Đồng Đăng in Lạng Sơn, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Paying Respects to ‘Uncle Ho’

Phat Tich Pagoda: Vietnam’s Cultural Giant

The Super Cool Detour to Da Lat, Vietnam

Bút Tháp Temple: Vietnam’s Cultural Gem

Visiting the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long

Tay Ho: The Biggest Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoa Lo Prison: Vietnam’s “Hanoi Hilton”

My Memorable First Winter in Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake: The Heart of Hanoi, Vietnam

“Pot Sessions” at the Bat Trang Pottery Village

First Stop: Temple of Literature in Hanoi

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