Hang Gai street, Hanoi

Hang Gai street, Hanoi

A Renowned Silk Street Hanoi, Vietnam

Rachel Tran Rachel Tran | Published Oct 09, 2019

Coming to Hanoi, not only do you admire both the ancient and modern beauty of many beautiful landscapes and valuable cultural and historical sites, but you also have experience in shopping activities here. 

Shopping in Hanoi is so bustling and busy, from traditional markets, boutiques in the Old Quarter to luxurious commercial centers. 

It is convenient and easy to buy local gifts or souvenirs for your family and friends. One of the most favorite items that tourists choose to buy as gifts is silk – a Vietnamese conventional handicraft product. And Hang Gai Street (also called Silk Street Hanoi) is an ideal and well-known place where you can find the best silk products ever. 

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What is Silk?

What is silk - Hang Gai Street
Silk has been integrated as a staple in Vietnamese culture

Silk is a kind of thin, sleek, and lustrous cloth woven by natural protein fibers. The best kind of silk is made from silkworms. People feed worms on mulberry leaves. When they mature, they spit out their cocoons, and people use those cocoons to spin into silk.

Silk is a luxurious and expensive material because its production cost is high, quality is good and appearance is elegant. Silk helps people absorb sweat from their body so this material keeps them cool in summer and warm in winter.

History of Hang Gai Street

Hanoi old quarter
Hang Gai Street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam

In Le’s Dynasty, Hang Gai street (or Street of Hemp) was the middle part of the road, which extends from Nhi Ha river shore to the Southern Gate of Thang Long imperial citadel. This street was located in Co Vu village, Tho Xuong district. 

Nowadays, it remains Co Vu communal house that is narrow and small on 85 Hang Gai street. There is an ancient banyan tree in front of the communal house covering shade the roadway. Inside the communal house, people worship Bach Ma and Linh Lang, who are the tutelary gods of many old villages in Thang Long.

In the past, Hang Gai mostly sold ropes and hemp hammocks. The word “Gai” originated from the name of hemp (in Vietnamese, it means “cây gai”) which was used to make the hammock. During French domination, Hang Gai’s name was “rue de chanvre.” In French, chanvre means the hemp.

At the end of the 19th century, the woodwork and flax rope and hammock production left their slots to the printing trade and silk business.

In the 20th century, printing trade was equipped with new technology. Hang Gai street became the cradle of many newspapers. After the August Revolution and French Resistance war, Hang Gai was destroyed insignificantly and still made a good trade.

In the early 21st century, Hang Gai became one of the most bustling commercial centers in Hanoi, mainly traded silk. Therefore, it was still called ” Silk Street”.

Over one thousand year went by. Today, Hang Gai Street has over one hundred stores, which primarily do business silk or goods and service related to silk.

Not only do shop owners trade in ready-to-wear silk products but they also design and create their products. Cu Thanh specializes in cloth, Hoa silk specializes in silk scarf, Kelly Silk offers quick tailored product, Khai Silk is always attractive by Europe design in the foundation of Orient material. While De Maison with sail symbol often gives tourists surprising and impressive gifts.

Highlights of Hang Gai Street

Hang Gai silk street
Tan My Design – one of the popular shops on Hang Gai silk street in Hanoi

Hang Gai is one of “36 streets” of the Old Quarter, which remains many precious cultural sites and helps us find out different sides about daily life and the notion of old Thang Long people to choose, inherit and build Old Quarter area in Hanoi city center.

One of the most special features of Hang Gai street is a harmonious combination between houses’ design, stores’ architecture, and religious places. All of them create a unique beauty, not only traditional but also modern.

Most houses are built based on traditional architectural styles. In front of the house, the width is quite short, about 2 to 4 meters but the length is from 20 to 60 meters. 

Today, the houses and stores are renovated so that they are suitable for contemporary life. One more highlight is almost households here trade in silk as well as services about silk. This also reflects a specific business activity of each street in “36 streets” in Hanoi.

Silk at Hang Gai street
Hang Gai street – perfect to indulge in a retail theory and shop your heart out

So why is Hang Gai Street One of the Busiest Shopping Revenue in Hanoi?

Hang Gai street is one of the most lively shopping areas in Hanoi. Although it only lengthens 250 meters, both sides of the street are flooded with stores, tailor’s shops, buyers and sellers,… Besides the tailor’s shops, there are some souvenir shops and colorful art galleries. Thanks to high-quality silk products, Hang Gai street charms tourists and locals, creating a crowded shopping scene.

What to Do at Hang Gai street?

1. Buying Silk and Souvenirs

Beautiful lacquer paintings at Hang Gai street
A great Vietnamese lacquer at Hang Gai

Buying silk and souvenirs is the main activity in Hang Gai street. 

Silk is supplied by Van Phuc famous silk village so its quality is guaranteed, the design is diversified, the color is eye-catching which meets various demands and tastes. You can also choose and buy some nice souvenirs for your family and friends.

Besides that, there are available tailor shops where you can suits or outfits with good quality only within 24 hours. However, if you want your suit more perfect, give them more time.

2. Wandering Around and Taking Photos

Take photos at Hanoi old quarter
Wander around to unlock the hidden secrets of the Old Quarter 

In addition, the street is not long so you can go for a walk along the road, see the architectural style, unique decoration of shops, the old houses or feel the beautiful moment in the daily life of locals. If you are interested in taking a photo, you can photograph some memorable pictures on this street.

Best Time to Visit 

The boutiques on Hang Gai street open from 8 am to 9 pm; therefore, you can get there during this time. However, you are advised to go and buy goods in the afternoon because you can bargain for a better price.

How to Get there

To get to Hang Gai, you can walk from Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, cross Hang Hom, Hang Trong or from Hang Bong, and then you go across Luong Van Can Street. Some means of transportation you can choose are bus, taxi, motorbike, pedicab,…

If you go there by bus, you can choose the bus routes number 01, 02, 08, 09, 14, 31, 36 then you walk to Hang Gai.

Generally, Hang Gai silk street is so narrow and complicated. If you want to go the street on foot, you had better bring your cell phone stalled Google Map or a map to avoid losing the way. If not, you can get there by taxi or pedicab which is so convenient and the price is not too expensive.

Tips on Visiting Hang Gai Street

  • Always bargain for a good price: The price that shop owners say is always higher than the real price. Therefore, you should begin at 50% off the price that the buyer asked and you shouldn’t pay an extra 70%.
  • Be careful that you might be cheated when buying silk: because it’s not authentic Vietnamese traditional silk with high quality, but can be imported from China that is shoddy, fake Vietnamese origin labels or even without clear origin. That’s why you should choose to buy silk-made products in a prestigious boutique.

With traditional and modern beauty and famous silk products, Hang Gai becomes one of the most lively shopping areas where you must visit when you travel to Hanoi. Not only is it a wonderful shopping paradise, but it also bears the hallmark of old Thang Long in the center of Hanoi- an active and developing city.

Hang Gai is a favorite and must-see destination for tourists, especially shopping-lovers when they visit and explore Hanoi Old Quarter. If you have a chance to come to Hanoi, don’t miss this attractive place. Don’t hesitate to comment below and share your emotions and truthful experience after visiting.


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