Street vendor in the old quarter, Hanoi. Jared Kelly / Creative Commons.
Viet Nam’s capital city of Hanoi never fails to charm. Amidst its vibrant atmosphere of a city on the move, it captivates with its grip on the past. From its colonial architecture to ancient temples and pagodas, Hanoi’s heritage is evident in its many neighbourhoods, particularly in the Old Quarter, where it’s easy to bring home something to remind you of the city.
Since the 13th century, the Old Quarter has been home to merchants and artisans selling their products in its maze of narrow, congested streets. Each street bears the name of the goods that was specifically sold there. Centuries later, the goods being sold in the shops have changed in most of the streets, but shopping is still part of the Old Quarter’s lure.
Find fantastic silk fabrics and made-to-order silk suits or shirts along Hang Gai Street, aromatic herbs and spices in Lang Ong Street, old propaganda art reproductions in Hang Bac Street, lacquer ware at Hang Hom, shoes at Hang Dau, traditional musical instruments at Hang Manh, books at the shops in Trang Tien Street, and decorative items and souvenirs at Nha Tho Street and the area surrounding nearby Hoan Kiem Lake.
You can also locate some of Hanoi’s designers who have set up their boutiques in the old shop houses of the Old Quarter. Except for silk, bargaining is acceptable for most items so be ready to negotiate before you part with your Vietnamese dong.
Traffic in the Old Quarter. Michelle Lee / Creative Commons.
Shop in the Old Quarter at Night. Chris Goldberg / Creative Commons.
Ladies in the Old Quarter. Michelle Lee / Creative Commons.
Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
Almost every Southeast Asia city has a shopping scene of its own – you can visit Bangkok, Thailand's markets; Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle and Chinatown; Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei; and Inle Lake in Myanmar.
You'll find especially good deals at duty-free shopping center Langkawi In Malaysia, and in the clothes overruns stores at Bandung (part of an overland tour from Jakarta to Bali).
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