You don’t have to look further if you’re looking for local scenes and ambiance while staying in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. While the Old Quarter may not represent as the most typical of Hanoian lifestyle because it is so dominantly tourist-friendly and focused, there are many hints and cues that demonstrate the local way of life.
A fantastic way to have a sneak peek of lives of local Vietnamese people is to visit a local market where they buy their groceries and other essential goods. And there’s one right behind the famous Dong Xuan market in the ancient town.
The indoor Dong Xuan market has some range of goods from clothes to food. But the real deal is outside and surrounding streets of the building. The streets you must check out for street vendors selling all kinds of food items, spices, fruits and many more are:
Nguyễn Thiện Thuật street
Thanh Hà street
Cao Thắng street
Cầu Đông street
Nguyễn Thiện Thuật street can be considered as the main street behind Dong Xuan market and there are tens of different sellers along the street. You’ll be able to spot butchers, vegetables and fruits sellers and so on. It gets super crowded around 4 or 5pm with Vietnamese men and women shopping for groceries for dinner. And it’s so much fun being part of it!
Don’t forget to check out Thanh Hà street for a greater and different range of products such as chả rươi (worm pancake), roasted fish, frogs etc. There’s a secondary school located in the middle of this street and when it’s around time the school finishes, this street gets super packed with students, their parents who’re there to pick them up as well as other shoppers.
Cao Thắng street is a street full of spices and is the perfect place to wonder and explore what spices are commonly used in Vietnam and what they look like in raw forms.
I believe a visit to local markets is more than the experience, but it’s also a great opportunity to try local treats such as exotic fruits and street food. So take your time to wander around these streets, observe the locals, capture them in your camera and embrace the moments!