Hanoi’s Old Quarter – Vietnam

A Street for Every Ware

Located between the green oasis of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Red River, the mazelike Old Quarter of Hanoi has been a shopping venue since the 15th century. Nearly forty of its narrow, crowded streets are named after the goods once sold along them: Rice Street, Silk Street, Pots and Pans Street, Gold Street – there’s even a Gravestone Street.

It remains to be seen if names like Pirate Video Street or T-shirt Street will follow. Open dilapidated storefronts give new meaning to “window shop­ping.” These cubbyholes are sometimes just large enough to hold a wizened old merchant amid goods stacked to the ceiling.

After de­cades of suppressions, every square inch of the Old Quarter is once again alive with capital­istic fervor. Noodles, flowers, antiques, and handicrafts are yours for the bargaining.

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