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.


If the Old Quarter is the heart of Hanoi, there is no better way to check its beat than pounding the narrow streets on foot. Start by paying your respects at the Ngoc Son Temple at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake. Cross back over bright-red Hue Bridge , stop for a quick look at the Martyrs'Monument . Follow the lake around on Pho Dinh Tien Hoang and pick up some tickets for an evening performance at the Water Puppet Theatre on So Lau. Head north on Pho Hang Dau and you’ll soon be swimming in shoe shops selling every shape, size and style - demonstrating how serious Hanoians are about their footwear. Cross over Pho Cau Go to Pho Hang Be, and browse the colourful market, which occupies the narrow eastern terminus of Pho Gia Ngu. Back on Pho Hang Be, continue north to the T-Junction with Pho Hang Bac. Near here arc several shops where artisans hand-carve intricate gravestones, most bearing an image of the deceased. A short detour north on Pho Ma May leads you to the Memorial House at No 87, an exquisite Chinese merchant's home that has been restored as a museum. Return to Pho Hang Bac and head west past a strip of snazzy jewellery shops. Don't miss the small entry to house 102, which includes a fully functioning temple where most people would have a lounge room, Exit and turn right onto Pho Hang Ngang past a row of clothing shops , and right again on to Pho Hang Buom. This will take you past the small Bach Ma Temple. As you pass the pagoda, with its red funeral palanquin, look for its white bearded guards, who spend their days sipping tea. Legend has it that Ly Thai To used the pagoda to pray for assistance in building the city walls because they persistently collapsed, no matter how many times he rebuilt them. His prayers were finally answered when a white horse appeared out of the temple and guided him to the site where he could safely build his walls. Evidence of his success is still visible at Cua O Quan Chuong , the quarter's well-preserved Old East Gate at the eastern end of Pho Hang Chieu, near the intersection with Pho Tran Nhat Duat. Continue north along the narrow Pho Thanh Ha. which has a traditional street market , with squirming fish, chunky frogs and heaped produce. Follow this round to the left and emerge near DongXuan Market, one of the most important in the city. Venture in, but bookmark any serious shopping for later as there is still plenty to experience. Backtrack south on Nguyen Thien Thuat and turn right on to Pho Hang Chieu, past a handful of shops selling straw mats and rope. This becomes one of Hanoi's most interesting streets, Pho Hang Ma the name translates as Counterfeit Street - where imitation 'ghost money" is sold for burning in Bud dhist ceremonies - there are even US$5000 bills! Loop around and follow your cars to the sounds of blacksmiths pounding away on metal on the corner of Pho Lo Ren and Pho Thuoc Bac. Moving south on Pho Thuoc Bac, turn onto Pho Lan Ong, where a fantastic row of herb sellers fills the street with pun-gent aromas. Continue to the end and take a breather at the Baguette et Chocolat , a cafe with cold drinks and exquisite pastries. Double back to Pho Thuoc Bac and head south past the tin-box makers , opposite the mirror shops on Pho Hang Thiec, then turn left towards the interesting shops selling Buddhist altars and statues along Pho Hang Quat. From here, head south on Pho Luong Van Can past all the toy shops, which could save the day if you are following this walk with flagging children. Then wander west along. Pho Hang Gai, window shopping as you pass the elegant designer silk shops. Head south on Pho Ly Quoc Su to the superb neo-Gothic St Joseph Cathedral. If the exercise is taking its toll on a hot day, just a few steps from the church, along Pho Nha Tho, there's a cluster of stylish restaurants and cafes. If you're looking for something a bit more local in flavour, turn left at the end of Pho Nha Tho onto Pho Hang Trong, right onto Pho Bao Khanh and left at Pho Hang Hanh. This street is chock-a-block with Vietnamese cafes and bars and is a good place to stop, rest your weary legs and watch the world go by.
Distance 3.5km
Duration Minimum two hours; more with sights and stops
Start Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake
Finish Pho Bao Khanh bar strip