Hanoi’s Old Quarter has a history that reaches across some 2000 years, making historical sites in the US seem like babies. As the Old Quarter grew, different craft guilds inhabited different areas, and this continued until each street was known, and named, for the specific trade performed there. The names persist, although some of the shops on them now have a wide variety of things for sale (e.g. You might find tshirts for sale on the silver jewelry street).
Today the Old Quarter is a haven for tourists, where many (not all) of the people working there know at least a little English. The narrow streets are unable to inhibit taxis and tourist buses from crowding inVendors with their wares piled high and wide on old, barely visible bicycles make their rounds.
Women balance mounds of coconuts or neatly cut pineapples on flat woven baskets hanging from bamboo poles carried across their shoulders. Surrounding all of this are innumerable shops selling the widest variety of things; jewelry, flowers, clothes, produce, meat, fake ‘The North Face’ (among other brands) bags: plus hotels, restaurants, bars and more.
It is an incredible jumble of sights, colors, sounds, and smells. And tourists.
(The following are a selection of photos of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Click one to see a larger version, or click here to see the whole album.)