The most exciting Old Quater tours: Hanoi now and then

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“Hanoi 36 streets” is a commonplace to the Vietnamese and often used as another name for Hanoi Old Quarter. As various centuries passed, Thang Long citadel was changed into modern Hanoi. Although the capital of Vietnam is developing every day, the marks of a cultural center in the old times still exist in each ancient house.

Many people have heard of 36 streets in Hanoi while taking Old Quarter tours. However, very few of them know that each street and corner has its very own meaning. It is simple but extremely profound. It was not a coincidence that the streets were named Hang Muoi, Hang Non, or Hang Cot. They were named after the occupation of the locals living on the streets.

Therefore, every street has its exclusive story and you will be stunned when finding them out.

The old house on Cho Gao street

The old house on Cho Gao street in the past

The old house on Cho Gao street

The old house on Cho Gao street now

One of the streets that still kept its appearance was Cho Gao. Despite major improvements after being destroyed in Hanoi 60 days of the war, Cho Gao Street still has several ancient houses. In French domination, Cho Gao was the place where rice porters and rice husker women used to live. Perhaps, that was the reason for its name in French, Marché de la rue du Riz, which meant rice-street market.

Cho Gao today is a crowded spot, located near business streets, and there is no sign of rice porters or huskers on the street.

Hang Gai street

Hang Gai street in the past

Hang Gai street now

Hang Gai street now

Together with Cho Gao, Hang Gai is one of the oldest streets in Hanoi. It is very short, which is just like any other streets that you can find in the Old Quarter tours. But, it is more charming and lively than any historical spots in Hanoi.

Formerly, ropes, net hammocks, and silk were common commodities here. That is why calling it Hang Gai, meaning ramie in English, was the habit of many people. Although the street was mostly for business purpose, it silently preserved a traditional craft for so many years until Vietnam – France war broke out. A lot of shops and houses on Hang Gai were bombed and crashed during that time.  

Hang Bong Street

Hang Bong street in the past

Hang Bong Street now

At one end of Hang Gai Street, you will see Hang Bong Street. Having a length of only 1 kilometer, it is one of the shortest streets in Hanoi. Nevertheless, its abundance has always been the same. More than a century ago, Hang Bong was a bustling commercial street in Hanoi. People often came here to look for sandals and quilted blanket.

Although many years have gone by, Hang Bong possesses many impressions of an ancient Hanoi. Little house lying closely with one another, crammed markets on weekends, or old men playing chess and telling stories about the old Hanoi are familiar images that you can find on this street. Being a tiny street in the capital of Vietnam but the historical values of Hang Bong are not tiny at all.  

Another typical destination while taking a Hanoi day tour is Dong Xuan Market. Despite countless upheavals in the country, the market has stood still for over a hundred years.

It was built by the French in late 1800s, following French architecture with five domes. In around 1990, several years after the Democratic Republic of Vietnam took over Hanoi, the market was reconstructed. Two domes on two sides were demolished and two additional stories were built.

Nowadays, Dong Xuan Market has become a large wholesale center in North Vietnam. Nonetheless, it is still a historical site and visible evidence for Hanoi full of feat of arms.

One final point that makes the Old Quarter so famous is St. Joseph’s Cathedral. In fact, it can be the most impressive last tourist spot when you travel to Hanoi Vietnam. Comparing to that in the old days, the cathedral does not have many changes.

Despite the ravages of time, the church is still imposing and majestic. Of all the historical sites the government is trying to preserve,  St. Joseph’s Cathedral is probably the most untouched one. Its general structure follows European Gothic style. However, it still contains numerous combinations with Vietnamese architectural design.

You can easily see this in the style of the roofs and traditional furniture. Hence, the cathedral is a fantastic result of exchange relationships between Western and Eastern culture.

Many years have slipped by and Hanoi Old Quarter has got various differences from ancient times. Nevertheless, there is one thing that has never been changed about the Old Quarter now and then: It is always beautiful. We have introduced to you only some small corners of it. If you want to discover more, just book Old Quarter tours.

Author Since: Jan 16, 2019

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