Hanoi, founded over 1,000 years ago inside a crook of the tea-coloured Red river, was the seat of Vietnam’s imperial power until the late 18th century. Its Old Quarter is the immersion point for most travellers, with its labyrinth of ancient streets, which were once inhabited by traders serving the nearby imperial citadel.

The best way to explore the “36 streets” of the Old Quarter is to weave through Medicine, Headstone, Tin and Silk Street on foot. It’s noisy, busy, entangled in power cables and motorbike-clogged, but it’s quintessential Hanoi. Wander on your own, or take a guided walking tour with Hidden Hanoi (two hours, minimum two people £16pp).

Take a break with Hanoians on low-slung plastic stools on the pavement at a tea stall watching the daily maelstrom, or head to “Coffee Street” for classic ca phe sua da (iced coffee with milk) at Cong Caphe, a multi-storey cafe clad in communist memorabilia. Silk Street (Hang Gai), and the lanes around St Joseph’s Cathedral, provide rich pickings for shoppers. Browse at boutique METISEKO for ethereal silk prints, Hanoi Moment (No 101) for lacquer and delicate ceramics, and concept store Tan My  for designer fashions (including those by the popular Minh Hanh) and irresistible homeware such as Catherine Denoual’s exquisitely embroidered silks…”


Article written by Claire Boobbyer, January, 22nd, 2015

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