Hanoi, like any capital city, has a multitude of shops, restaurants, cafes as well as galleries, museums, theatres, and cinemas. Alongside more high-end establishments, Hanoi has a healthy and thriving street-side culture. The bustling streets are a business space for many Hanoi locals, even hairdressers!
Male barbers will style your hair out on the street for less than USD 2
Included in this blog, you will learn more about the street traders, including:
Hanoi Bia Hoi Bars
Bia Hoi is locally brewed beer and is sold all around Vietnam, but Hanoi is where the craft beers characteristics the most significant. Many bars sell Vietnamese craft beers, but it is the street-side bars that will serve the best Bia Hoi. For the most popular Bia Hoi, visit Beer Street in the Old Quarter, or if you are looking for something more quiet and casual, there are many Bia Hoi bars/shops throughout the whole city.
Bia hoi is served in many street-side bars throughout Hanoi
Some of the most popular food in Vietnam is the street-food, which tends to be authentic and traditional Vietnamese staples. You are unlikely to find a burger van here, but there are many locals making banh mi, pho, and Vietnamese pancakes. The street food is always very affordable and easy to come by, especially in the busier areas of town.
Delicious food is cooked around the clock on the street-food stalls
Alongside healthy and savory meals, you can find food vendors selling desserts such as ice cream, rice puddings, and baked goods.
Many residential and tourist areas will have daily markets selling fruits, vegetables, and meats for cooking at home.
Street-side shops include butchers for locals to buy fresh meat
Street-side markets are set up each day to sell fresh fruit
Explore more Hanoi Food Streets
The pavements and sidewalks influence Hanoi’s street-side culture and entice passers-by to stop and admire their goods or step inside an open-front store.
Many shops will spill out onto the pavement for you to browse their different products on your way past
Many shops, restaurants, and cafes spill onto the pavements, and you can relax here when the weather is right, enjoying local food and drinks outside with people passing by.
Many locals will enjoy each meal at a street-side restaurant or bar
Many street-side sellers will set up in the morning and afternoon to sell postcards and souvenirs for the tourists attracted here all year round. The Old Quarter is the best place to find these fun gifts, and you will find them in stores which encroach on the sidewalks, or from independent sellers who set up a stall each day. The Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular place for sellers to pitch a spot selling souvenirs and cards for people to post home.
See Hanoi's Souvenirs for your friends and family
Hand-made cards are for sale in busy tourist areas for you to send home
As mentioned earlier, there are many daily street-side markets selling fruits, vegetables, and meats. As well as food, you are likely to find flowers, clothing, electronics, accessories, and many other typical market products. You will have to bargain for the price you are happy to pay, but this can add to the fun of your street-side experience. The Dong Xuan market is a great place to experience Hanoi’s street-side culture since the indoor market is surrounded by traders selling similar goods. In the evening, when the market is closed down, you will find many stalls open up on the streets for a night-time market experience.
The Dong Xuan market opens in the evening to sell designer goods
It is impossible not to see local women carrying heavily-laden baskets while staying in Hanoi, especially if you are staying in a central part of the city. The wicker baskets are often loaded with mostly fruit such as mangoes, lychee, and small oranges, sometimes flowers or deep-fried cakes. These baskets will be carried throughout the day, selling to anyone who is passing by. The baskets look incredibly heavy, and the women look incredibly strong carrying them as they make their way along Hanoi’s streets.
Ladies carrying heavy baskets laden with fruit will bargain with you for a fair price
Different styles of baskets can be seen throughout the city
Note that if you have not mastered the art of haggling for price in Vietnam, you either have to pay a higher price, or these ladies will get quite irritated thinking you are giving them a hard time.
A large part of Hanoi’s street-side culture is the many forms of transport available throughout the city, and a rickshaw will give you memorable experiences traveling around Hanoi. Rickshaws are small tricycle carriages carrying one to two passengers, which are peddled by someone else on the back. This used to be a conventional means of transport during the colonial period; now they are used primarily for tourism purposes. Head to the Old Quarter’s market spaces or near the Opera House in Hoan Kiem District to find a rickshaw rider to show you around Hanoi’s fascinating street-side culture.
A ride will cost around VND 150,000 - 200,000/person, and the drivers speak very little English.
Many rickshaw drivers will pedal you through the city and nearby attractions
In many of the public parks and open spaces, you will find group activities such as dancing, yoga, or even meditation. Hoan Kiem Lake is popular for yoga and dancing, while the near-by park behind the golden statue of Ho Chi Minh holds dance classes and meditation groups. Group leaders will play music as participants dance in an open space, and yoga practitioners will also guide their members through a yoga class in the outdoors. You can see the freedom that Hanoi’s street-side culture has to offer as residents are not confined to indoor spaces to enjoy their daily exercises and interests.
Lots of activities take place each day on the streets and in the parks including meditation, dancing, and yoga
Hanoi’s street-side culture has much excitement and fun to offer to travelers and locals. Have fun exploring Hanoi’s busy streets, and please be respectful of the local culture – the makeshift street-side businesses are main income sources to some people, and they are such integral part of what makes Hanoi's culture so diverse and vibrant.
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© Written by Lucy for itourvn.com