Guidebook Shop and absorb history in the Old Quarter

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Shop and absorb history in the Old Quarter

“An intricate warren of streets laid out in a millennium-old plan, selling almost everything under the sun.” That’s how Michael Aquino at Tripsavvy describes Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where “narrow streets are packed with family-owned shops selling silks, stuffed toys, artwork, embroidery, food, coffee, watches, and silk ties.” It’s a reminder of Hanoi’s storied past -- “its history has long been tied to the ebb and flow of conquerors and traders over the past thousand years.”

When the Emperor moved his capital to Hanoi 1000 years ago, a “community of craftsmen followed,” explains Aquino. “The craftsmen were organised into guilds,” which led the streets of the Old Quarter to reflect the different guilds that called the area home: “each guild concentrated their business along an individual street, and the streets’ names reflected the business of the guilds that lived there.” The Old Quarter is also known as Ancient Quarter, “or just simply 36 Streets,” explains Vietnam Travel. The 36 streets that make up the Old Quarter are “all named for the type of good or serve they used to sell there … there are streets named for bamboo, silk, silver, medicine, shoes, fans, chickens, and even coffins.”    

Here are the some of the best places to buy clothes in the Old Quarter, according to Vietnam Online:   Ta Hien Street: “The upbeat and crowded Ta Hien street may draw much attention for its bustling bars and pubs scenes, it is also a great place to start shopping … there are numerous clothing shops that open 11 pm daily … they have basic clothing pieces that are a 100% knock-off of fast fashion brands.”  

Hang Da Street: “This street has a good mix of knock-offs, authentic and local brands … each shop has a different set of stock so if you want variety, this is the place for you.”  

Chan Cam Alley: “This little alley has a collection of small shops and boutiques that carry from cheap Chinese made clothing pieces to local designers … minimalism is a common theme in these boutiques … this is a popular shopping place for trendy Hanoians.”  

21B Phan Dinh Phung Street: “If you want a retail shopping experience, going to the M2 store at 21B Phan Dinh Phung street is a place for you … this is part of a chain of shops that stock a wide range of Made in Vietnam clothing that have a decent selection of style for everyone in the family.”

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