Photo by Fabio Nodari/age fotostock
Hanoi Old Quarter
Also known as the 36 Streets (though it's made up of more than 36 streets), this neighborhood is a warren of alleys and lanes that was, according to some legends, home to 36 artisans’ guilds; streets here were named after the artisan items that were once sold on them (Hang Bo was the location for bamboo products; Hang Ma was where paper objects were sold). Each road today still specializes in a particular category, with some still related to the traditional item. Streets especially popular with tourists shopping for souvenirs, as well as those in search of photo opportunities, are Hang Bac (silver goods, now also filled with gift shops), Hang Ma (religious paper wares, then and now), and Hang Dau (oil products, though currently a center for shoe vendors). Among these timeworn businesses, visitors will also encounter outlet stores selling Gap, Banana Republic, and North Face clothing—some authentic and some fake. The quarter is also packed with hotels, hostels, restaurants, and bars, making it a busy destination at all hours.
By Sanjay Surana, AFAR Contributor
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14 Yên Thái, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam