Sunday 27 April 2014

Hanoi Travel Part 9: Exploring The Streets Of Old Quarter

I stayed in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and every other day, I was walking on streets bearing cute names like Sugar Street, Paper Street, Silver Street, Coffin Street, Chicken Street, Fish Street, etc. This prompted me to learn a little more about the history of Old Quarter which dated back to the 11th century. 
Old Quarter, also known as "36 Old Streets" is Vietnam's version of the guild system of Medieval Europe. In the past, as artisans moved to the capital city, they stayed closed to each other and formed guilds to protect their livelihood. Soon streets came into existence and were named after the products sold or the crafts specialised by the guild members. Pho Hang Bac (silver), Pho Hang Chieu (mats), Pho Hang Ma (paper products) are examples of streets carrying the name of the products sold till this day.
Below are some of the thousand years old streets I trod while staying in Hanoi.

Hang Bac Street (Silver Street)
Hang Bac Street specialises in jewelries and accessories made of silver.

Hang Chieu Street (Mat Street)
 Hang Chieu Street sells mostly mats.
Hang Chiew Street has diversified to include the sales of all types all of tapes.

Hang Duong Street (Sugar Street)

Not sugar per se but a lot of sweet things like candies and dried fruits are sold here.
Communal houses (small temples) were set up by the guilds in each area to honour a local god. (Pic above: Communal House in Hang Duong Street)

Hang Dong Street (Copper)

Hang Ma Street (Paper products)
Joss paper, paper lanterns, etc are sold here. This is a colorful street.

Ma May Street (Rattan Street)
As time evolves, many streets no longer sell or specialise in the products they were originally named after.
Ma May Street is now a street with many travel agents, internet cafes and tourist restaurants. 
The popular Backpackers Hotel is located at Ma May Street.

Hang Be Street (Rafts)

No rafts seen but there is a mix of other products. Many shops sell paintings. 

Hang Vai Street (Textiles)
Hang Vai is one of the quieter streets in Old Quarter. It no longer sells textiles though.
There are lots of bamboo products seen here, especially ladders and tobacco pipes.
A man smoking a long bamboo pipe.

A street barber at Hang Vai St
Will this trade still exist 10 years from now, I wonder.
Modern hair saloons have sprung up everywhere.
It is common to see street butchers selling pork on pavements by the roadside.

Dong Xuan Street
This is where the largest wholesale market in Hanoi is located. 
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, a very long stretch of 5 roads are closed to traffic to make way for the weekend night market. One of the roads is Dong Xuan St. [Pic above: Dong Xuan Market]

Hoan Kiem Street
This is the shortest street in Hanoi. Barely 50 metres long, this street is more like a connecting lane between two streets.
There are interesting shops an this short street.

Hang Gai Street (Hemp Street)
A lot of tourists are seen along this street as it is very near to Hoan Kiem Lake. No hemp seen here but lots of nice souvenirs, silk, and apparels.

Luong Van Can 
Most of the streets in Old Quarter are short stretches that merge with others before you even realise it.

Lan Ong Street

The aroma of herbs filled the air as we walked along the second half of Lan Ong Street. The specialty here?  Traditional herbs.

Hang Ngang Street (Transversal)

Weekend night market at Hang Ngang St.

Luong Ngoc Quyen Street
The real Sinh Cafe ( travel agent) is located at Luong Ngoc Quyen Street. There are many other Sinh Cafes in Old Quarter but all are fakes.

Thuoc Bac Street (Herbal Medicine)
Thuoc Bac Street is now filled with shops selling hardware products.

Hang Giay Street (Shoe Street)

Hang Dau Street (Beans) & Cau Go Street (Wooden Bridge)
Hang Dau now sells shoes and sandals while Cau Go has women accessories a little of everything.

Lo Su Street (Coffin Street)
There are but not many mortuary shops in Lo Su Street. This is a tube hotel on Lo Su Street.

Hang Tre Street (Bamboo Street)

Hang Thung Street (Barrel Street)

Hang Dao Street
Weekend night market at Hand Dao Street.

Even though Old Quarter is known as "36 Streets", there are in fact about 70 of them.

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