VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Ha Noi

History - Orientation - Information - Dangers Annoyances - Sights - Activities - Walking Tour - Courses - Ha Noi For Childern - Tour - Festivals Events - Sleeping - Eating - Drinking - Entertainment - Shopping - Getting There Away - Getting Around - Around Ha Noi - Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum - Perfume Pagoda - Handicraft Villages - Thay Tay Phuong Pagoadas - Ba Vi National Park - Co Loa Citadel - Tam Dao Hill Station.

SHOPPING

Designer Boutiques
Khai Silk (96 Pho Hang Gai) Almost a national institution these days, Khai Silk is the place to find funky, fash¬ionable silk clothing, as well as more austere classical creations.
Hadong Silk ( tell: 928 5056; 102 Pho Hang Gai) One of the biggest silk shops on (appropriately enough) silk street. Hilary Clinton shopped here during her visit with Bill in 2000.
Pearl Ha ( 40 Pho Hang Bong;) Home to an eclectic collection of cool clothing, designer jewellery' and other titbits, designer Ha Linh Thu has outlets in major hotels including the Hilton and the Melia.
Ipa-Nima ( 34 Pho Han Thuyen) This boutique promises 'smart humour, bright colours, subtle satire' and it delivers. Designer clothing, bags and jewellery for those in the market for something original.
Things of Substance ( tell: 828 6965; 5 Pho Nha Tho) A popular clothes shop on Nha Tho, this offers tailored fashions at affordable prices - a thing of substance indeed.
Chi Vang ( tell: 824 0933; 17 Pho Trang Tien) Anyone who has been to Ball and browsed the beautiful Ulu Watu lace shops will know the script here. Exquisite lace creations, including clothing and homewares.
Dome (tell: 843 6036; 71 Pho Hang Trong) One of the best shops for home accessories. Unique designs and the best of Vietnamese materials make the perfect keepsake. There are several beautiful furnishings shops on Pho Nha Tho if you are in the mood for .shipping stuff back home or planning to set up house.
Galleries
Aspiring young artists display their works in Hanoi's private art galleries in the hope of attracting a buyer. The highest concentration of upmarket galleries is on Pho Trang Tien, between Hoan Kiem Lake and the Opera House just stroll down the strip. Most art galleries have some English-speaking staff,and are open daily until 8pm or 9pm. Prices range from a few dollars to a few thousand and polite bargaining is the norm.
Viet Art Centre (42 Pho Yet Kieu) This new art centre was just opening, its doors as we were in town, and promises cutting edge con-temporary art and classic paintings. Worth a browse plus there is an excellent little cafe to contemplate.
Hanoi Gallery (110 Pho Hang Bac) If you are in the market for propaganda posters from the old days, this place has a huge selection. It in cludes translations of the slogans and mailing tubes for easy carrying or posting.
Mai Gallery ( 183 Pho Hang Bong) Run by resident artist Mai, this is a good place to learn ; more about Vietnamese art before making a purchase. In a cluster around the Old Quarter corner Pho Trang Tien and Pho Ngo Quyen Gallery Huong Xuyen , which also stocks some beautiful greetings cards.
A Gallery with both permanent and visiting exhibitions; and Hanoi Contemporary Art Gallery, with some ceramics as well as paintings.
Handicrafts & Antiques
There are quite a few shops in Hanoi offering new and antique Vietnamese handicrafts (lac-querware, mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, ceramics, sandalwood statuettes and so on), as well as watercolours, oil paintings, prints and assorted antiques (real and fake). Pho Hang Gai, Pho To Tich, Pho Hang Khai and Pho Cau Go are happy hunting grounds.
Viet Hien (tell:826 9769; 8B Pho Ta Hien) An enormous warehouse of antiques, paintings, furniture and handicraft, including rattan creations that are a hell og alot cheaper than at home.
Vietnamese House (tell: 826 2455; 92 Pho Hang Bac) A small but attractive shop dealing in a mix of old and new treasures. There is a strip of antique shops located on Le Duan, across from Hotel Nikko on Tran Nhan Tong, but most tend to be overpriced.
Markets
Dong Xuan Market is a three-storey market located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, 900m north of Hoan Kiem Lake. The market burned down in 1994, killing five people, all of whom had entered the building after (he fire started, to either rescue goods or steal them. It has now been rebuilt and is a tourist attraction in its own right. There arc hundreds of-stalls here, employing around 3000 people. Hang Da Market is a relatively small market, but it is good for imported foods, wine, beer and flowers. The 2nd floor is good for fabric and ready-made clothing. It is very close to the Protestant Church off Pho Hang Ga, 300m west of Hoan Kiem Lake-Hom Market, on the northeast corner of Pho Hue and Pho Tran Xuan Soars, is a good general-purpose market with lots of imported food items. It's a good place to buy fabric it you plan to have clothes made. Cua Nam Market is a few blocks north of the Hanoi train station. The market is itself of no great interest (except maybe for the flowers), but Ð Le Duan he tween the market and the train station is a treasure-trove of household goods, such as electronics and plasticware. Buoi Market is heated out in the far northwest. Notable for live animals(chickens, ducks, pigs and so on), it also fea-tures ornamental plants. For something completely different, there is now a night market (7pm-midnight) running through the heart of the Old Quarter. It starts near Dong Xuan Market on Pho Hang Giay and runs almost to Hoan Kiem Lake on Pho Hang Dao. It is little more than a spill- oves from the many shops that now dot the 0ld' Quarter, but at least the streets are closed to traffic and it's cooler to browse. Watch out tor pickpockets, as this has become the new Hanoi hotspot.

Souvenirs & Other Shops
Around Pho Hang Bong and Pho Hang Gai,just northwest of Hoan Kiem Lake, are plenty of souvenir shops selling T-shirts and ' Viet Cong; (VC) headgear. It might be noting, however, that neither Ho Chi Minh T-shirts nor VC headgear are very popular apparel with Vietnamese refugees a; -tain war veterans living in the West. Wearing such souvenirs while walking down a street in Los Angeles or Melbourne offend-someone and result in a costly to ihe dentist. Pho Hang Gai and its continuation,PhoHang Bong, are good places to look for em-broidered tablecloths, T-shirts and wall hang- ings, Pho Hang Gai is also a good place to have clothes custom made. Take a look along Pho Hang Dao, just north of Hoan Kiem Lake, for souvenir Russian-made watches. If you don't make it up to Sapa there is a wide selection of ethnic-minority garb and handicrafts available in Hanoi; a stroll along Pho Hang Bac or Pho To Tich will turn up close to a dozen places.
Craft Link ( tell: 843 7710; 43 Pho Van Mieu) is a not-for-profit organisation that buys good quality tribal handicrafts and weavings at fair-trade prices, and funds community development initiatives for the artisans. There is an outstanding shoe market ( Pho Hang Dau) at the northeast corner of Hoan Kiem Lake. For the best in CDs and DVDs, there are several shops along Pho Hang Bong and Pho Trang Tien. Be aware that they're bootleg, though, so not strictly legal. On Pho Trang Tien you'll also find many shops willing to make dirt-cheap eyeglasses in a mere 10 minutes, using decent imported lenses from France or Japan.
PUNCH & JUDY IN A POOL
The ancient art of water puppertry (roi nuoc) was virtually unknown outside of northern Vietnam untill the 1960s.It originated with rice farmers who worked the flooded fields of the Red River Delta. Some say they saw the potential of the water as a dynamic dtage, others say they adapted conventional pupetry during a massive flood. Whatever the real story, it is a least 1000 year old. The farmers carved the puppets from water–resistant fig–tree timber (sung) in froms modelled on the villagers themselves, animals from their daily lives and more fanciful mythical creatures such as the dragon,phoenix and unicorn. Performances were usually staged in ponds, take or flooded paddy fields. Conlemporary performances use a square tank of waist-deep water for the ‘stage’; the water is murky to conceal the mechanisms that operate the puppets.The wooden puppets can be up to 50cm long and weigh as much as 15kg,and are painted with a glossy vegetable based paint. Each lasts only about three to four months if used continually,so puppet production provides several villages outside Hanoi with a full-time livelihood. Eleven puppeteers, each one trained for a minimum of three year, are involved in each per- formace.The puppeteers stand in the water behind a bamhoo screen and have traditionally suffered from a host of water borme diseases–these days wear eaders to avoid this nasty occuoatioal hazard. Sone puppets are simply attached to a long pole, while others are set on a floating base, in turn attached to a pole. Most have ariticulated limbs and heads, some also have rudders to help guide them. In the darkened auditorium it looks as if they are literally walking on water. The considerable skiils required to operate the puppets were traditionally kept secret and passed only from father to son; never to daughters though fear that they would marry outside the village and take the decrets with them. The music, which is provided by a band,is as important as the action on stage.The band includes wooden flutes (sao) , gongs (cong), bamboo xylophones and the fascinating single- stringed zither (dan bau). The performance consists of number of vignettes depicting pastoral scenes and legends. One memorable scene tells of the battle between a fisherman and his prey, which is so electric it apperps as if a live fish is being used.There are also fire breathing dragons (complete with fireworks)and a flute-playing boy riding a buffalo. The performance is a lot of fun. The water puppets are both amusing and graceful, and the water greatly enhances the drama by allowing the puppets to appear and disappear as if by magis. Spectators in the front-row searts can expect a bit of a splash