3 Most Peaceful Old Quarters in Vietnam That You Shouldn’t Miss

Jane Pham
Jane Pham | Published: March 3, 2020

Antique beauty can still be found even in the biggest and modern cities in Vietnam like Hanoi. Walking in the old quarters, visitors will realize the ancient features in every corner of the streets. So, if you have chance to travel in Vietnam, don’t miss the 3 most peaceful old quarters in Vietnam namely Hanoi Old Quarter (phố cổ Hà Nội), Dong Van Old Quarter (phố cổ Đồng Văn), and Hoi An Old Quarter (phố cổ Hội An). Those places will surely satisfy visitors, especially fans of the old towns. So why are these places must-visits in Vietnam? Let’s discover the reasons with us.

1. Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi old quarter

Highlights:

Your trip to Vietnam might not be complete without visiting Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. And when you ask a local people about the spiritual symbol of Hanoi, the answer you will get would surely be the Old Quarter, one of the most renowned attractions in Hanoi. In this place, you can see the great combination between the modern life and the fusion of the past as well as the long history and unique culture of this capital. The old quarter dates back to the 11th century – the time when King Ly moved Vietnamese capital from Ninh Binh to Hanoi. So many craftsmen decided to gather around the palace to sell their products. Therefore, many surrounding villages are established by groups of skillful craftsmen. 

Years went by, these villages turned into different streets that visitors can see in present day. There are a total of 36 old streets with the word “Hang” in its name. For example, Hang Khay, Hang Dieu, Hang Cot, Hang Ngang, Hang Muoi, Hang Bong,…Though many streets no longer sell the products that they were named after, some streets still do. And, Hanoi Old Quarter is still well known for its unique classical features. It is also the inspiration for many writers, painters, and poets, as well as attracts many tourists come here and admire its romantic beauty.

Things to do:

There are plenty of things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter, including:

  • Enjoying sidewalk cafes to taste the very own Vietnamese coffee culture and get a sense of being a part of Hanoi daily life.
  • Shopping at Dong Xuan Market – the shopping paradise of Hanoians and tourists.
  • Visiting Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple – the classic bits of Hanoi tourism.
  • Going to Hanoi Old Quarter Market to buy the great souvenirs for your friends and family.
  • Trying numerous delicacies in this area like Bat Dan noodle, Turmeric fish with dill, beef noodle, drifting cake,…

2. Dong Van Old Quarter

Dong Van Old Quarter

Highlights:

Famous ancient architecture and a less touristy place, you can find these characteristics in Dong Van Old Quarter. Located in the heart of Ha Giang province, the old quarter is more than 100 years old and it still keeps intact contour. Vietnam has up to 54 different minorities and Dong Van is definitely a good place to see the diversity in daily life and lifestyle of various ethnic people including Kinh, Mong, Tay, Hoa,… Located in the middle of valleys, Dong Van Town looks like an impressive picture blended by two main colors. It is the gray of ancient houses and the bright yellow of the sunshine. 

Dong Van Old Quarter was established in the early 20th century with a few families of the Chinese, Tay and Hmong. Gradually, there are more and more local residents find and live in this place. Its architecture stands out in Chinese style with two storey houses having red lanterns and yin and yang roofs. On 14th, 15th, and 16th lunar month, there will be 3 “Ancient City Night”. During this time, the households look more outstanding with decorative items. Besides, many activities take place these days like selling brocade ethnic products, drinking wine and playing folk games. 

Things to do:

  • Learning about the lifestyles and cultures of local ethnic minorities like Hmong, Dao, Tay, and Nung. 
  • Exploring the hidden beauty of Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang
  • Admiring the unique location and grandeur beauty of Ban Gioc Waterfall
  • Visiting Dong Van Market, the place where many young Hmong, Pu Peo, and Lo Lo women in their traditional costumes come to exchange the goods, shop, and make friends.
  • Tasting specialties of Ha Giang province such as “thắng cố”, “âu tấu”, and the corn wine. 
  • Conquering the rugged slopes and passes

3. Hoi An Old Quarter

Hoi An ancient town at night

Highlights:

Most visitors will be drawn to Hoi An Old Quarter by its great foods, traditional handicrafts, fun shopping, cozy atmosphere, and friendly people. Coming here, you will surely be amazed by these characteristics. Once a major Southeast Asian trading port, it is like a living museum where you can enjoy the old-town architecture. The amazing style can be seen everywhere in this ancient town, from the Chinese-style pagodas and temples, wooden shop-houses, old canals, to Japanese-designed bridge, to French-colonial. Especially, the ancient town has retained its traditional wooden architecture and unique features of the townscape like timber frame buildings with wooden and brick walls.

Besides, the traces of time can be found not only in the architecture of each building but also the pictures carved with strange animals, the old walls, and yin-yang rooftops. Hoi An old quarter looks truly beautiful and atmospheric at night when the whole town is lit by colorful and quaint lanterns. The beauty cannot be found in other regions of Vietnam and has been well preserved for so many years. It reflects a great blend of indigenous and foreign cultures (including Chinese, Japanese, and later European influences). In December 1999, the ancient town was also declared to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

Things to do:

If you are wondering what to do in this wonderful destination, let’s check out list:

  • Getting a tailored-made suit in Hoi An (because the place is so famous across Vietnam as well as many other countries for its textile industry)
  • Wandering around the old town to immerse in the peaceful atmosphere and escape from the busy daily life.
  • Registering a Vietnamese cooking class where  you can get stuck in and know how to make some amazing local dishes.
  • Admiring the Japanese Covered Bridge which is well known as the symbol of the ancient town.
  • Taking a tour in Hoi An Silk Village to check out every step of ancient weaving techniques 
  • Sampling the local specialties such as “cao lầu” (Pork rice noodle), “cơm gà Hội An” (Hoi An chicken rice), “mì Quảng” (Quang seafood noodle),…

The above 3 most peaceful Old Quarters in Vietnam will definitely spark off your journey in Vietnam. These will bring you back to hundreds of years ago in Vietnam. You will have a chance to not only immerse yourself in the untouched beauty but also enjoy the hidden and timeless charm in this beautiful country. There are no reasons to miss these beautiful old quarters in Vietnam.

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