The Old Quarter, a triangular area surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake, has been the cultural heart of Hanoi for nearly 2,000 years. Daily routine starts early and builds to a friendly bustle in this ancient neighborhood, where streets have distinct character and are named after the crafts once made there, such as silver, silk, and paper.
A visit to Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Old Quarter. Here you can admire the neo-Gothic St. Joseph’s Cathedral, tour the Huyen Thien Pagoda, explore Ngoc Son Temple, and pass through the Old City Gate—one of four original entrances to the heart of the Royal City.
Guided tour options through this bustling part of town abound. Sightsee on a traditional cyclo tour through the ancient streets, sample some of the neighborhood’s best Vietnamese bites on a food-centric walking tour, or explore the Old Quarter’s numerous shops and markets on a guided shopping excursion. A variety of half-day walking tours cover the area’s top highlights, while full-day Hanoi city tours often include a visit to the Old Quarter.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Old Quarter is a must-see for first-time visitors to Hanoi.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Come hungry—the Old Quarter is packed with cafés, bars, bakeries, and restaurants.
- Shops and restaurants in Hanoi’s Old Quarter often accept both US dollars and Vietnamese dong; be sure to ask which price is being quoted.
How to Get There
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is located on the west bank of the Red River, roughly 45 minutes by road from Noi Bai International Airport. The most convenient way to get there is by taxi, cyclo, or a ride-sharing service. If you opt for a taxi or cyclo, it’s a good idea to negotiate the fare in advance.
When to Get There
The Hanoi Old Quarter is lively throughout the day, but things tend to quiet down around 8pm when restaurants stop serving. Autumn and spring bring mild temperatures and light rainfall, ideal for walking around and enjoying the sights.
What to Eat in the Hanoi Old Quarter
Due to limited space in the old buildings, street food is especially popular in the Old Quarter. Don’t miss out on some of the neighborhood’s most famous dishes, like bat su (China bowls), cha ca (roasted fish), pho bo (Vietnamese beef soup), and egg coffee.