Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital lies in the North of the country and is one of the country’s top tourist hot spots. It offers French-colonial architecture, a rich food culture and a long history (the city celebrated its millennium in 2010.) The most well known and important districts in Hanoi are Ba Dinh District (aka the French Quarter) where the government offices are located and Hoan Kiem District (aka the Old Quarter) which is considered the city’s business hub and main tourist destination.
One of Hanoi’s most common sights is that of streets packed with scooters, bicycles and cars swarming around pedestrians like a school of fish. Then there are the many sidewalk vendors and people simply out for a stroll and the popular Old Quarter is no exception so walking around this district is distinct from a leisurely stroll in the park. Visitors have no choice but to face the traffic in the local style but the experience of exploring the historical area is a must-do and truly well worth it.
Old Quarter Attractions
Many of Hanoi’s major attractions are within or nearby the Old Quarter, including Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Opera House, National Museum of Vietnamese History, Ba Dinh Square, a former Governor-General of French Indochina’s mansion, the One Pillar Pagoda, Bach Ma Temple, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Dong Xuan, Hanoi’s largest market.
Old Quarter Nightlife
Other parts of Hanoi might quiet down at night but the Old Quarter is where night owls head to. Live music, discos, clubs and bars as well as decent karaoke joints are the norm here.
Though the numbers might be limited compared to other large Asian cities, what’s on offer here is well enough to keep people from all walks of life happy and university students, office staff and expats are among the friendly crowds.
Old Quarter Activities
Must-do number one in the Old Quarter is to have a look around this, the oldest neighborhood in the city. With a history dating back to about the 13th century, the vibe and energy here is definitely unique. Must-do number two is to stop by at any local tea and coffee café that provides chairs to sit outdoors (many times ‘outdoors’ here means sitting right on the sidewalk.) This is considered the best place to observe the world go by in the Old Quarter.
For those who love cooking and Vietnamese food, combine them together and learn from the professionals at one of the many culinary classes around.