I was lucky I had lived in Hanoi's Old Quarter for 16 years, until my father decided to move to another place near Hanoi's railway station. The 1,000 year old quarter is located right at Hanoi's center and very famous for its history and charm. It was formed in the 11th century, when King Lý Thái Tổ decided Hanoi became Vietnam's capital in 1010 and at that time Hanoi was called "Thăng Long" (Soaring Dragon). Although the Old Quarter is often called "the 36 old streets", there may have actually been more streets (see my list below). Most of the street names start with "Hàng", which means "shop", and the next word after "Hàng" would be a name of some product for sale. For example, "Hàng Bạc" (a street where silver products were sold), "Hàng Bông" (cotton products) etc.
At present, the land in Hanoi's Old Quarter is the most expensive land in Vietnam. Any front side shops on such major streets like Hàng Đào or Hàng Gai can offer an unimaginable price. There are some old houses which were built in the late 19th century, are still preserved until today. You can see in this blog some photos that.
were taken at House No. 87 on Mã Mây street. Some generations had lived at that house, then the owner decided to donate the house, so that it could be a museum. The house was restored and open in October 1999 thanks to the French assistance.
One of the gates into the old citadel, which still remains up to now, is the "Ô Quan Chưởng" gate. It was built in 1744 and located at the end of Hàng Chiếu street. It's also the first image in this blog.
Hanoi's Old Quarter is challenged by rapid changes. There are many travel agencies and new hotels as well as restaurants for tourists on some streets of the Old Quarter. Night markets are open at every weekend along Hàng Đào street to Đồng Xuân market. I wish, someday in the future, only bicycles would be allowed to go inside the Old Quarter. Then it would be fun walking down the narrow and winding streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter and thinking about how Hanoi was like in the old days.
Below is the meaning of the streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter which was published in the Timeout Guide of Vietnam Investment.
There's an old caligraphy artist at House No. 87 on Mã Mây street. His presence and painting work at that house are to introduce Vietnamese culture to the visitors.
Review. Some streets have changed their names or products for sale:
Bát Đàn (wooden bowls), Bát Sứ (china bowls), Chả Cá (roasted fish), Chân Cầm (string instruments), Chợ Gạo (rice market), Gia Ngư (fisherman), Hài Tượng (sandals), Hàng Bạc (silversmiths), Hàng Bè (rafts), Hàng Bồ (baskets), Hàng Bông (cottons), Hàng Buồm (sails), Hàng Bút (brushes), Hàng Cá (fish), Hàng Cân (scales), Hàng Chai (bottles), Hàng Chỉ (threads), Hàng Chiếu (mats), Hàng Chĩnh (jars), Hàng Cót (bamboo latices), Hàng Da (leather), Hàng Đào (silk dyes), Hàng Đậu (beans), Hàng Dầu (oil), Hàng Điếu (pipes), Hàng Đồng (copper), Hàng Đường (sugar), Hàng Gà (chicken), Hàng Gai (hemp), Hàng Giấy (paper), Hàng Giầy (shoes), Hàng Hành (onions), Hàng Hòm (cases), Hàng Hương (incense), Hàng Khay (trays), Hàng Khoai (sweet potato), Hàng Lược (comb), Hàng Mã (votive papers), Hàng Mắm (pickled fish), Hàng Mành (bamboo screens), Hàng Muối (salt), Hàng Ngang (transversal street), Hàng Nón (hats), Hàng Phèn (alums), Hàng Quạt (fans), Hàng Rươi (clam worms), Hàng Than (charcoal), Hàng Thiếc (tin), Hàng Thùng (barrels), Hàng Tre (bamboo), Hàng Trống (drums), Hàng Vải (cloths), Lò Rèn (blacksmiths), Lò Sũ (coffins), Mã Mây (rattans), Ngõ Gạch (bricks), Thuốc Bắc (herbal medicines).