Hoan Kiem

The historic center of Hanoi, this maze of streets offers the city’s most traditional food, best souvenir shopping and lively nighttime entertainment.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a maze of traditional streets in the oldest part of the Vietnamese capital. The district is a unique mix of European and Asian architecture and culture, and is the most iconic neighborhood in Hanoi. You can visit the bustling hub any time of day, or base yourself in one of its many hotels. Find cultural venues, cafés, shops and typical Vietnamese restaurants all in the one place. Prior to French colonialism in Vietnam, the city of Hanoi contained only 36 streets. The city has since expanded dramatically; however, the original quarter remained the heart of Hanoi. Today, many of Hanoi’s major attractions can be found in the Old Quarter. These include the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Lake Hoan Kiem, with its temple and picturesque bridge.Listen to the calls of of hawkers, wearing conical hats made from leaves, balancing baskets on their shoulders. Breathe in the smell of exotic food and try the dishes and cooled drinks that hawkers sell on the road. Try Bia Hoi, Vietnam’s traditional home-made brew on Ta Hien, a street famous for beer venues and specialist craft shops. At night, visit the lively bars or enjoy traditional North Vietnamese food at one of the restaurants.Stay alert for passing traffic when you walk the crowded streets, as there don’t seem to be clear road rules here. Browse the Night Markets at weekend nights, or make your way into the Dong Xuan market hall during the week. For souvenirs, such as conical Vietnamese hats or personalised carved stamps, visit the craft shops that line the streets in the Old Quarter. Hanoi’s central Old Quarter is an excellent place to stay and there are many leading hotels and hostels, suiting all budgets.Hanoi’s Old Quarter is just north of Lake Hoan Kiem. The area is served by a number of bus lines, but the district is small enough to traverse on foot.

Explore the best attractions in Hoan Kiem

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At the heart of Hanoi stands a weathered neo-Gothic Roman Catholic church, a contrary sight in this predominantly Buddhist city.
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Wander around the banks of this peaceful lake and discover an historic temple, observe locals going about their daily life or enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade.
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This historic building is the centerpiece of Hanoi’s French Quarter and host to shows by many of Vietnam’s premier singers, dancers and musicians.
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See a stuffed turtle, take photographs of traditional Vietnamese architecture or enjoy a moment of quiet reflection in the tranquil surroundings of this temple.
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Discover one of the finest collections of historic artifacts in Vietnam housed in this stunning 20th-century school building.
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Browse hundreds of stalls in Hanoi’s biggest marketplace in the heart of the Old Quarter.
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The harsh difficulties of French colonization and the Vietnam War are somberly remembered in one of the most brutal prisons in Vietnam.
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Stories from local legends are told at this theater with hand-carved wooden dolls and colorful dragons that perform on a stage on the water.
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This boisterous street is renowned for silks, custom tailoring, colorful displays and hand-crafted souvenirs, all hanging from faded yellow façades.
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The attractive shape of the only city gate remaining in Hanoi harks back to a time when the city was under siege.