Dong Xuan Market – a Busy Trade Center in Hanoi

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: February 12, 2020

The renowned Dong Xuan Market in downtown Hanoi has long been a favorite, a busy trade center that attracted buyers from many other places …

Dong Xuan Market, or Cho Dong Xuan, is the oldest and largest market in Hanoi. It is located at Dong Xuan Street, at the end of Hang Dao Street, on the northern part of the Old Quarters. The original building was constructed in 1889, on the site of one of Hanoi’s lakes. It is a street market spreading over a surface of 600 square meters, occupying half of the street. Approximately fifty businesses are operating the forty stands selling food, artifacts, souvenirs and tour packages among others.

If you want to shop and at the same time peeping into the corridors of history, then Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi is the place for you. This large multi- storied market sells anything and everything. From fresh foods to home appliances, you will have it all here. But, what is more fascinating about this market is its historical significance which you still can experience if you visit this place. It witnessed fierce battle between the Vietnamese resistance units and the French. Dong Xuan Market is also a historical place where there was a combat of soldiers of “Quyết tử quân” (“Deciding to die”) against the French attack to the heroic zone I, in February 1947. Being the biggest market and locating in the downtown, Dong Xuan Market is a crowded and bustling exchanging, tracsaction, business place of the capital.

It was built in 1889, in the basis of combination and removal of two markets, Cau Dong and Bach Ma on the shore of To River. It was positioned in area of Dong Xuan Ward with 5 vault-like roofs, steel frames; each frame is 52m long, 19m high supplying area for hundreds of goods.

Highlights of Dong Xuan Market

Unlike other Hanoi night markets selling agricultural products in Long Bien and Quang Ba flower market, Dong Xuan Market has been mainly created for tourists. With its eleven stalls, the brightly-lit food zone is the most animated, serving late night guests until early morning. There are numerous kinds of goods and products selling in the market. The crowded and dense situation of Dong Xuan Market was highly praised in many old folk song of Hanoi.

History of Dong Xuan Market

This large three-story market to the north of Hanoi’s Old Quarter offers a varied cornucopia of goods of all sorts. Hundreds of stalls, with thousands of workers, trade extremely fresh produce, dried foods, household goods, appliances and more. The market has an interesting history. It saw fierce fighting between Vietnamese resistance units and the French. Later, in 1994, the market was destroyed in a fire that resulted in the death of five people and the loss of an estimated USD4.5 million in stock.

River networks formed the economic hub of Hanoi by providing a system of waterways which fed the city and markets. Located at the confluence of the To Lich and Red Rivers, the Dong Xuan Market was once one of the busiest urban areas in Southeast Asia.

You might have your curiosity and appetite titillated as you try to choose from a wide selection of exotic Hanoi dishes: fried frog or fish meat pastes, rice and duck meat soup, fried rice, tiet canh (duck blood uncooked, only if you have a brave heart and strong stomach!), rice vermicelli and beef cooked in the south Vietnamese style and even just beefsteak and bread. Here you can find real Hanoi food, as favored by true-blue Hanoians. The dishes might cost a little more than elsewhere but, you have to taste it to believe it, they are truly delicious, such as a steamy hot dish of pho cuon  (beef wrapped in long wispy strips of rice vermicelli, served with aromatic herbs and spicy sweet-sour fish sauce).

In artifact shops on Dong Xuan Street you will find traditional Dong Ho paintings, Bat Trang ceramics. Binh Da embroideries and laces, and sand paintings, the new craze of Hanoi’s young people. For a modest sum, you can choose one of those ‘raw’ pictures with different designs and patterns.

The Trend in Dong Xuan Market

Like other markets such as Sapa’s Cho Tinh, Nam Dinh’s Vieng market, Lang Son’s Ky Lua market and Can Tho’s Tay Do market, Dong Xuan Market has been set up to meet the needs of locals and tourists.

With the advantage of having long history of culture, traditions and being located in the community of ancient quarter of Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market is one of attractive tourist destinations of the capital and is the only one of Hanoi’ s many efforts to develop tourism and attract international visitors.

To advertise the image of Dong Xuan Market, creating favorable conditions for citizens to sell and buy products (consumer products and handicrafts), Dong Xuan JSC is now organizing to exploit tours at the market. Currently, Dong Xuan travel is now establishing tours to exploit potentials of tourism of the market to develop the tourism of culture, research for development of tourist products. From 2010 on wards, the company will build up Dong Xuan Market to archive the standards of tourist destination of the city; research development of services and accommodations of visitors.

How to Get to Dong Xuan Market?

From the north bank of the Hoan Kiem lake, take Hang Dao Street. Along the way, it changes name to Hang Ngang Steet and then Hang Duong Street. Eventually it becomes Dong Xuan Street. You will see Dong Xuan Market on the right side of the road. The distance is about 400 meters.

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