The vibrant and bustling city of Hanoi has found its future by appreciating its thousand years of history, we can see that all in its Old Quarter. Located in the northern part of the city center, the Old Quarter, or the 36-old-streets, is a traditional craft area where each street was named after the product it sells such as the silk street, bamboo street, noodle street and many other household-product streets.


The history of the street names date back to 13th century, when artisans from different villages came to the city to help the King build his palace. They formed a busy area between the Red River and the Palace, where people making the same product live together to form artisan guilds. Those artisan guilds later became craft streets, where people make and sell the same things.



Back then, houses were taxed according to the width of the storefronts. So to pay less tax, people build narrow houses that we commonly called “tube houses”.  In those tube houses, the living room is either behind or above the shop, and then there is one or two bed rooms on each floor.


Each house there is owned by one family, starting from the bottom – children on the first floor, parents on the 2nd floor, then grandparents and grand grant parents stay on the top of the houses.


One more thing about the area, houses that you can see from the street only shows 20% of all the houses in the old quarter, the other 80% of the houses are located behind. So between nice shops, there is always a sharing-small and dark lane leading to a living area of up to 10 different families. That’s explains why many of them earn living by selling drinks or foods on the sidewalk.


Today the Old Quarter is home of Hanoi’s best street food and traditional restaurants, many of them have been operating by families that focus on serving only one dishes such as Pho (beef noodle soup) Gia Truyen at 49 Bat Dan Street, Pho Ly Quoc Su at 10 Ly Quoc Su Street or Cha Ca La Vong (serving fish and dill on hot pan) at 14 Cha Ca street.


There are so many boutique hotels in Hanoi, which offer family atmosphere and the convenience staying right at the center of the city. Good boutique hotels include the Essence Hanoi, Silk Path Hotel or Hanoi La Siesta Hotel and Spa. If you want a five-star hotel, the Apricot and the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi are among the best candidates, both are within ten minute-walk to the old quarter.



All Incense Travel’s luxury tours include Hanoi and its Old Quarter. To enhance your Hanoi experience, we also customize many cultural activities such as Hanoi street food tour, dinner with a musician family, visit a home based water puppet performance and private cooking class at a local chef’s home


It is possible to include Hanoi and other famous attractions including Halong Bay, Hoi An, Saigon and Con Dao Islands in a complete Indochina package tour. Contact us to start customizing your upcoming luxury journeys to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.



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