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[Self Guided] Walking Tour Hanoi Old Quarter: List 10+ must-try activities

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When taking a walking tour Hanoi Old Quarter, you’ll have the opportunity to discover a place where history whispers through ancient streets, and excitement beckons from every corner. This district is a treasure trove of experiences, offering a delightful blend of tradition and modernity. As you stroll through its vibrant lanes, you’ll uncover a world of captivating activities. This article will guide you through an array of top 10+ captivating activities during your walking tour of Hanoi Old Quarter.

Cruising through the overview of Hanoi’s Old Quarter

When you think of Hanoi, two phrases immediately come to mind: “36 Street Hanoi” and “Hanoi Old Quarter.” These historic streets have a rich past and attract tourists worldwide.

The Hanoi Old Quarter, nestled to the West and North of the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake, comprises 36 charming streets. From Hang Dau Street in the north to Phung Hung Street in the west, and bustling thoroughfares like Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Cau Go, and Hang Thung in the south, to Tran Quang Khai and Tran Nhat Duat in the east.

Its history dates back to the 17th century when King Ly Thai To chose Hanoi as the capital. Skilled artisans gathered here, forming guilds and cooperatives from the 13th century onwards. By the 15th century, 36 trade guilds thrived, each giving its name to a street based on its primary trade.

The Old Quarter of Hanoi exudes a profound sense of tranquility.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi exudes a profound sense of tranquility.

In the 1950s, French colonial influence led to a shift towards Western architectural styles, reshaping the Old Quarter’s landscape. Today, it boasts a charming blend of architectural influences, preserving the legacy of French design while reflecting its rich history.

10+ things to do for an ultimate walking tour Hanoi Old Quarter

Enjoying traditional performances at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

  • Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Ward, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Price: from $4 per ticket
  • Show schedule: shows start at 3:00 pm, 04:10 pm, 05:20 pm, 06:30 pm, and 08:00 pm.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater stands as a cultural gem and a spiritual journey for visitors seeking a quintessential Vietnamese experience. Over the years, the theater has undergone significant enhancements and now boasts modern facilities capable of accommodating up to 300 guests per show.

Operating year-round, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater consistently draws in numerous tourists eager to explore the essence of Vietnamese culture. It offers an immersive and entertaining insight into the nation’s rich traditions, making it an unmissable attraction for visitors of all backgrounds.

The outstanding water puppetry performance is filled with Vietnamese cultural essence.
The outstanding water puppetry performance is filled with Vietnamese cultural essence.

Explore 36 streets of Hanoi

Woven intricately into the tapestry of Hanoi’s Old Quarter are the treasures of traditional craft villages. As you meander through the charming streets, such as Hang Ma, Hang Thiec, Thuoc Bac, and Hang Tre, you’ll discover a living heritage that has been meticulously preserved for generations.

These streets serve as windows into the past, offering a glimpse of the artisans and their time-honored trades. Beyond merely shopping, visitors are encouraged to engage with local artisans, delving into the history and evolution of these streets.

Here, the sellers themselves become storytellers, narrating the tales of these streets’ origins and their enduring journey through time. It’s a chance to not only acquire unique handcrafted goods but also to forge a deeper connection with the cultural heritage of Hanoi.

Take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake

On weekends, the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake are closed to traffic to create a walking street. This is an activity that is enjoyed by many locals and tourists. Here are some of the cultural, artistic, and entertainment activities that regularly take place at Hoan Kiem Walking Street:

  • Performances of traditional Vietnamese music and dance
  • Traditional Vietnamese games
  • Concerts and artistic performances are usually held in the area of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square.
  • Street food: Hanoi Walking Street is home to many delicious and attractive street food. Visitors can find food from all over Vietnam, such as pho, bun cha, nem chua ran, kem Trang Tien,…
The beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake at night.
The beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake at night.

Visiting The Memorial House of Ho Chi Minh

  • Address: 48 Ward Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Entrance fee: free

This was once the residence and workplace of President Ho Chi Minh and key Party officials. It’s where he wrote the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945, giving birth to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The Art Deco architecture is also a highlight. Plus, it offers a peaceful escape from the bustling streets, and there’s no admission fee. Don’t miss this piece of history!

Unique Collectibles in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter for a street-level shopping experience. Streets like Hang Dau, Ly Quoc Su, Ta Hien, and Hang Da are filled with shops offering clothing, bags, shoes, and more for tourists. For curated finds, check out Vui Studio, boutiques on Chân Cầm street, and natural beauty shops on Hội Vũ street.

Textile lovers can visit Ha Dong Silk, Tan My Design for Vietnamese designer fabrics. Find unique souvenirs at Collective Memory and accessories at Craft House Cathedral. 

Silk products, rich in colors, represent the traditional beauty.
Silk products, rich in colors, represent the traditional beauty.

Cultural explore at the Hanoi Cultural Exchange Center 

In just a few minutes, you can delve into a slice of the Old Quarters’ history, available in both English and French. Learn about its creation, destruction, reconstruction, and future plans. You also can enjoy periodical exhibitions, participate in workshops, and exchange in art performances.

Enhance your Hanoi Train Street Experience with Coffee

At Hanoi Train Street, you’ll find yourself in close proximity to passing trains, creating a unique and exhilarating moment. These trains serve as vital links between two of Vietnam’s major cities, Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

While Hanoi Train Street offers a unique and memorable encounter with passing trains, you can elevate this experience by indulging in some of Vietnam’s finest coffee. Here are some delightful options to consider:

  • Railway Cafe – Barrier, 112, 5 Tran Phu Ward, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Hanoi 1990s – Lane 222 E. Le Duan, Kham Thien, Dong Da, Hanoi
  • Hanoi Train Street – 3 Ward Tran Phu, Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Travelers are eager to enjoy coffee and watch the trains pass by.
Travelers are eager to enjoy coffee and watch the trains pass by.

Take a cyclo around Hanoi Old Quarter

Cyclos are traditional Vietnamese rickshaws that are pulled by a bicycle. They are a great way to get around the city’s narrow streets, and they are a popular option for tourists who want to experience the city’s culture and history.

On a walking tour Hanoi Old Quarter, you can ride through the narrow streets, where you can see traditional Vietnamese shops and restaurants. You can also stop at a street market to sample some of the city’s delicious street food.

Enjoy spas and massages in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

In Hanoi’s Old Quarter, spas and massage parlors are plentiful, offering a wide range of services to suit every budget. You can enjoy a one-hour massage for as little as $5 or opt for a more luxurious experience that provides excellent value for your money. These establishments offer various massage styles, including traditional Vietnamese techniques, hot stone therapy, shiatsu, Swedish massages, aromatherapy, oil-based acupressure, and lymphatic drainage.

For a blend of traditional and modern treatments, consider visiting below suggestions:

  • JM Spa Hanoi – 16 Hang Da, Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi 
  • L’essence Spa – 36 Dinh Liet, Hang Đao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • La Spa Ma May – 94 P. Ma May, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Sen Spa Hanoi – 38 Hang Hanh, Hang Trong Hoan Kiem Hanoi 
Enjoy moments of relaxation and rejuvenation after a walking tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter.
Enjoy moments of relaxation and rejuvenation after a walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Checkin at Hang Dau Water Tank

  • Address: Hang Dau Booth, Quan Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam

Built in 1894, Hang Dau Water Tank is one of Hanoi’s oldest landmarks. Its European-style charm makes it a popular spot for photos and exploration. Located at the junction of several historic streets, this iconic structure is a symbol of the city’s rich history. During spring, the sight of blooming crimson sesame flowers adds to its allure, making it a must-visit in the heart of Hanoi.

Chill out at Hanoi old quarter’s vibrant nightlife with some cocktail

Have you ever wondered about the nightlife in Hanoi’s Old Quarter? This place is not only famous for its quaint ancient streets but also for its vibrant and diverse nightlife. The bars and pubs in Hanoi’s Old Quarter create incredibly interesting and unique atmospheres.

The atmosphere in these bars and pubs is often lively and welcoming. You will feel yourself immersed in light music, cheerful conversations with new friends, and a sense of freedom in these colorful spaces.

Here are some bars and pubs worth trying in Hanoi’s Old Quarter:

  • The Haflington – 94 Hang Ma, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • The Alchemist – 25 Bat Su, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Cloud Sky Bar Hanoi – 16 Hang Da, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Hanoi ơi Bar Bistro – 3 Ta Hien Street, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Experience unique drinks and ambiance at The Haflington Bar & Cocktail.
Experience unique drinks and ambiance at The Haflington Bar & Cocktail.

Do some shopping when take a walking tour Hanoi Old quarter

Exploring the Old Quarter of Hanoi isn’t just about soaking in its rich history and savoring delicious street food; it’s also a shopaholic’s paradise. The bustling streets and markets offer a treasure trove of items waiting to be discovered.

Tourists are in for a delightful shopping experience as they stroll through the narrow streets of the Old Quarter. Here are some fantastic shopping spots to explore:

  • Night Market: Open on weekends from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., this market offers trendy clothes, shoes, and souvenirs at budget-friendly prices.
  • Dong Xuan Market: Located in the heart of the Old Quarter, it’s perfect for clothes, shoes, and trinkets, open all day.
  • Specialty Streets: Explore Hang Bac, Hang Ngang, and Hang Dao for unique finds like silver jewelry and sweet dried fruits.

You should visit the markets and streets during the afternoon. This is the ideal time to explore and select your desired items with ease and without the hustle and bustle of evening crowds.

So, as you embark on your walking tour of Hanoi Old Quarter, set aside some time to indulge in retail therapy. Whether you’re hunting for stylish fashion, one-of-a-kind souvenirs, or delectable local treats, the Old Quarter has it all, just waiting for you to discover. Happy shopping!

Join a traditional Vietnamese cooking class

These classes offer hands-on experiences where you’ll learn to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes from skilled chefs, exploring the unique flavors and techniques that define Vietnamese cooking. Don’t miss the opportunity to unravel the secrets behind iconic dishes like pho, spring rolls, and banh mi while creating unforgettable memories in the heart of Hanoi.

You can enroll in these classes at the following address:

  • Blue Butterfly Restaurant & Cooking Class – 69 Ma May,Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Green Farm Restaurant & Cooking Class – 44 Ward Dao Duy Tu, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Hanoi Food Culture Restaurant & Cooking Class – 60 Phat Loc, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Diligent students meticulously prepare and cook traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Diligent students meticulously prepare and cook traditional Vietnamese dishes.

Tips for a Walking Tour Hanoi Old Quarter

Exploring Hanoi Old Quarter on foot is a delightful adventure, but it pays to be prepared. Here are some valuable tips to make the most of your journey:

  • Comfortable Footwear: Opt for comfortable walking shoes with good grip to navigate the cobblestone streets and uneven terrain effortlessly.
  • Stay Hydrated: Carry a reusable water bottle and stay hydrated, especially during the hot and humid months. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to refill it.
  • Local Currency: Ensure you have Vietnamese Dong in smaller denominations for street vendors and local shops. While many places accept cards, cash is preferred for small transactions.
  • Street Food Wisdom: Embrace the local cuisine but be selective about where you eat. Look for bustling stalls with locals, an indicator of good food quality and hygiene.
  • Traffic Awareness: Exercise caution when crossing the busy streets. Follow the locals’ lead, and remember that traffic tends to flow around you.
  • Learn Basic Phrases: Familiarize yourself with basic Vietnamese phrases like “Xin chào” (Hello) and “Cảm ơn” (Thank you). It shows respect for the local culture and can enhance your interactions.
  • Respect Local Customs: When visiting temples or pagodas, dress modestly with covered shoulders and knees. Remove your hat and shoes when required to show respect.

These tips will help you make the most of your walking tour Hanoi Old Quarter while ensuring your comfort, safety, and cultural sensitivity throughout your journey.

A walking tour Hanoi Old Quarter is a journey through history, culture, and culinary delights. From the majestic Temple of Literature to the mesmerizing performances at the Hanoi Opera House, this district offers an array of experiences for every traveler. Whether you’re sipping coffee at a corner café, exploring ancient temples, or savoring street food, the Old Quarter has something to offer everyone. Make sure to include a walking tour of the Old Quarter at the top of your Hanoi itinerary for an unforgettable adventure.

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