If Hanoi is mentioned, almost everyone will think of the ancient beauty of the Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, and other popular cultural and historical sites. However, Hanoi is also known as the second fastest-developing city in Vietnam, only after Ho Chi Minh City. With high levels of migrants making up a significant proportion of the population, Hanoi has many different areas which are famous for their distinct features. If you are staying in Hanoi for a long time, you should definitely visit these areas to experience different facets of the capital city.
The Old Quarter – Cultural and Historic Hub
The Old Quarter has been the busiest commercial area in Hanoi since the Ly dynasty. Under the French, the architecture of the houses changed. The houses soon had facades convenient for business. The Old Quarter is comprised of 36 streets, and every street sells a particular product, which is reflected in the name of the street. All of these special features make the Old Quarter a cultural symbol in Hanoi.
In the Old Quarter, O Quan Chuong, Bach Ma temple, Le King temple, Hoan Kiem lake, and Dong Xuan market are famous sites that you should not miss. Not only that, the Old Quarter is also known as the backpacker area in Hanoi. Multitudes of hotels, restaurants, and bars are located in this area or very close to it. At night, numerous local people and foreigners gather on Ta Hien street to drink Hanoi beer, eat street food, and hang out with friends. Stools and small tables crowd the sidewalk as it gets dark which is characteristic of Vietnam.
The Walking Street officially operates from 6 PM to 11 PM from Friday to Sunday around Hoan Kiem Lake and some streets in the Old Quarter. The night market has the same operation time and is situated on Hang Dao, Hang Ngang, and Hang Duong street. You can find nice and cheap souvenirs in this market. Don’t forget to bargain! Moreover, folk games, traditional music, street art music, and portraits are interesting activities to take part in and observe around the walking street. And the most convenient part is, free wifi is available to everyone in this area.
Tay Ho – New Urban Areas for Westerners
Tay Ho District is well known for the biggest freshwater lake in Hanoi, called West Lake. Luxury hotels, high-class restaurants, and beautiful coffee shops are located along the shoreline. Historic and cultural sites such as Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Taoist Temple, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and Vietnam National Museum of Nature are within reach. In addition, Nhat Tan flower garden and Hong River Rocks (Bai da Song Hong) are beautiful spots that you shouldn’t miss. With all the interesting places above, spending time in Tay Ho is pleasant and relaxing.
Tay Ho is a great choice if you intend to find a long term stay in Hanoi. Big communities of Western expats live in Tay Ho. More modern urban areas have been built such as Ciputra and Tay Ho Tay, which have luxury apartments and villas. In these urban areas, some of the most prestigious international schools in Hanoi are located, alongside golf courses, spas, restaurants, coffee shops, banks, and more. You can find the most comfortable life here.
Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh – Korean Small City
Just seven kilometers away from the Old Quarter, Trung Hoa is a ward in Cau Giay District and is in close proximity to Nhan Chinh in Thanh Xuan District. An urban city was established in these two areas, called Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh. This area is famous for its Korean community. Many Korean restaurants, bars, and supermarkets are within reach. It is no exaggeration to say that Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh looks like a small Korean city in Hanoi. Most Koreans choose this area for a long-term stay.
Chua Boc – The Student Area
Chua Boc is five kilometers away from the Old Quarter and situated in Dong Da District. It is considered to be the student area because it contains two famous universities: Banking Academy and Thuy Loi University. Dozens of food carts set up along the sidewalks on Chua Boc street to sell delicious street foods. Because their main customers are students, the price is very cheap but the food is delicious. If you continue going straight ahead, you will see Thai Ha street. Thai Ha and Chua Boc street have many local restaurants with good food quality. The price is reasonable because this is the local area.
Moreover, there are many large fashion shops along Chua Boc street. The price varies from shop to shop. You can find both high-quality clothes with high prices and ordinary clothes with low prices. It suits everyone’s needs! At the end of the year, these shops have a big sale which attracts hundreds of local people to this area. What a bustling scene!
Thai Ha and Thai Thinh – Mobile Phone and Computer Repair Services
Next to Chua Boc street, Thai Ha and Thai Thinh street are famous for mobile phone and computer repair services. Repair shops are close to each other and stretch along these two streets. Most of them are small and medium-sized shops. Big and well-decorated exteriors and uniformed staff are good signs for a trustworthy shop.
If you need to repair your phone or laptop, the staff usually notes all the accessories (batteries and chargers) so you have a record. It usually takes one day to repair but the time can extend depending on the damage. Before leaving the shop, make sure you check your devices carefully and are given a warranty paper.
Pho Hue and Ba Trieu – Stylish Fashion Streets
1.5 kilometers away from the Old Quarter, Pho Hue and Ba Trieu are two parallel streets in Hai Ba Trung District. This area is famous for their numerous fashion shops. The stylish decoration and layout of the shops attract many fashion lovers. The good quality clothes and accessories in this area are mainly for the young people. The price is reasonable but a little more expensive than Chua Boc. Not too far from the Old Quarter, you should visit this area at least once to find your favorite clothes.
Royal City and Times City – The Modern Shopping and Entertainment Complexes
Royal City and Times City are the most modern shopping and entertainment complexes in Hanoi. Located on 72A Nguyen Trai street, Thuong Dinh ward, Thanh Xuan District, Royal City is stunning with European architecture in the middle of Hanoi. It is a paradise of underground amusement with a contemporary art center, an ice skating rink, and game center. Bowling, virtual reality games, and KizCiti vocational school for children are the highlights in the game center. In addition, a luxury shopping mall, big restaurants, and cinema are located in this complex. Royal City is open from 9:30 AM to 10 PM.
The next shopping and entertainment complex is Times City on 458 Minh Khai street, Hai Ba Trung District. Similar to Royal City, Times City is an underground complex with a shopping mall, restaurants, and an entertainment area. Vinpearl Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Vietnam, is located in Time City. Moreover, you can enjoy the spectacular performance of water, light, and music along the 400 meters of artificial river in Times City Square. Time City has the same hours of operation as Royal City.
You don’t need to buy a ticket when entering these complexes. If you play games or participate in entertainment activities, you will pay the ticket price. It would be great to enjoy a fun day here, especially if you go with your family and children. Besides, Royal City and Times City are located in the middle of new urban areas which have the same name as the complexes. These are also great places for a long-term stay in Hanoi.
Now you know Hanoi like the local people. Hanoi is actually a great city suitable for anybody looking to move to Vietnam. Make your trip to Hanoi, stay here like a local, and gradually explore other potential beauties of this capital city. Keep reading other articles on our blog for more information on your next journey in Hanoi.
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s blog!