Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam

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.

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Down a side street.

A glimpse into someones living area courtyard.

Electrical grid.

I don’t know why the birdcage is there, but the electrical system is a nightmare.

48 Glorious Hours of Street Food in Hanoi, Vietnam

During the 45 minute or so cab ride from the airport to downtown Hanoi, I contemplated what the city might be like. I knew very little about Vietnam or what to expect from Hanoi other than what I had concocted in my head after obsessively watching Anthony Bourdain’s travels unfold on Netflix. As I gazed at the city’s “suburbs” passing by in a flurry of bright colors, mopeds and rice fields, my anticipation grew; I knew something good was to come. After getting dropped off at my hotel in the Old Quarter and taking a brief glance at the sights around me, I was overcome with the nervous excitement of a new love, and the object of my desire, Hanoi. In the next 48 hours I crammed every waking moment taking in the city, strategically weaving my way on foot through the chaos of oncoming motorbike traffic, shopping for handicrafts and artwork at the abundance of colorful shops, fending off highly motivated (may I say aggressive?) street vendors, people watching my way around Hoan Kiem Lake, sipping thick Vietnamese iced coffee sweet with condensed milk, downing $0.25 Bia Hoi beers at “Beer Corner” and my favorite, sampling as much street food as physically possible... To read the rest of my experience with photos, visit my blog article at: http://www.thebrazengourmand.com/48-glorious-hours-of-hanoi-street-food/

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