Hanoi is halfway between its complicated past and a promising future of small shops with the latest fashion and beautiful handicrafts. These tiny shops in the Old Quarter make shopping in Hanoi a delight.
The city is like an outlet mall, where you can shop for treasures made in dozens of small craft villages around it in ways that stretch back over a thousand years.
Great streets are everywhere, and your hotel front desk can point you in the right direction. If you're staying in the Old Quarter, you can walk around. Don't Miss Phang.
Shopping in the Old Quarter of Hanoi
In the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, you discover shopping as part of daily life. Before Amazon, before big bucks stores, before the days of suburbs and mega mall parking lots, there was a time when shopping was much more than buying.
Seeing your friends in the streets, squatting on plastic stools for an al fresco Pho, poking at silk dresses and stainless steel lunch buckets and plastic stars from last Christmas.
Shopping in the Old Quarter can be a challenge. Locals practice shopping from their bikes, so they get closer to the road's edge to look at the items for sale. Then, the sellers bring it to them, and if they like it, they close the transaction right there.
You have to be super attentive when you walk through the streets. The sidewalks are often full of motorbikes, tables, and chairs for people to eat or people working that your choice is really to walk on the road.
With heavy traffic of cars and motorbikes, you can be tested your talent in avoiding any of these hittings. However, I haven't yet seen anyone hit, so take courage and enjoy the myriad of things offered.
The Old Quarter still retains its old division into artisan alleys such as silversmiths, paper and printing, silk making, sewing, embroidery, et al. Exploring these streets is so much fun.
Here are some of the exciting shopping streets in the Old Quarter:
1. Dong Xuan Market
Still in the Old Quarter is Dong Xuan, the biggest covered market in Hanoi. This market offers items shoppers look for, from food to clothing, shoes, hats, toys, beads, and fabrics.
On the weekends, the streets outside become a bustling night market. Sometimes, musicians play some traditional music. This place is worth checking out just for the fun of it.
2. Hang Dao Street
Walking through this street from Hoan Kiem Lake, you will go through store after store of fashion, from tops to dresses to t-shirts and accessories.
Check out the tiny alleys branching from the street. They are just as exciting and fun.
3. Hang Bo Street
If you love to sew, this is the street for you. You can find anything you need for sewing. There are all kinds of buttons and accessories, threads, needles, lining, etc.
4. Hang Gai Street
Hang Gai is one of my favorite streets in the Old Quarter. I always love to visit my favorite shop in Hang Gai, Tan My Design, at 61/66 Hang Gai.
Here you can look at well-designed clothing and accessories, finely embroidered table cloth and napkins, bed linen, beautifully crafted home decor, and some of the finest and thoughtfully designed lacquerware.
For your home, you can get top-quality accessories and artwork. Our favorites are copper sculptured ants, the four-faced Buddha, and the lacquer paintings.
Even better in Tan My is the Cafe where Grumpy husbands and boyfriends can settle down, relax and enjoy an espresso or get online with the free Wi-Fi while you go up to the other floors and want more shopping.
Staff is always there to help you with things you want to fit and bring your purchases to the counter. She keeps her distance until you need her, so you are free to roam around the store. No shopping experience could be better than this.
I was there shopping one day, and I had lotus tea afterward. It was very refreshing and calming.
Just across Tan My is Hannah, Memory of Hanoi. That's Hannah in the picture and her store carries the most beautiful scarves and ceramics I have seen in Hanoi. They are of excellent quality as well and the designs you'll find there you can't find in the streets.
And below, have a peek of some of the scarves in Hannah.
5. Church or Cathedral Street
Around the Roman Catholic Cathedral are boutiques that sell and make apparel, souvenirs, crafts, and other items.
Three of the stores I like to check out are Song, L'Atelier and Bambou. I also like to go and buy at Nagu coffee and souvenir items beautifully embroidered in Vietnam. Cotton apparel for kids and adults are also sold in this store.
There is also Ajisa which offers quality handmade products from Vietnam. The latest I checked out in May, and I got the most fabulous bag for socks. As these three are all in a cluster on Nha To Street, you can enjoy all the browsing you want.
For beautiful embroidery, this is the place to go: Duc Thanh, 1 Trang Thi St. Here, you can find the famous embroidery pieces of the master, Le Van Kinh.
Hanoi Shopping Beyond the Old Quarter
There are other shops beyond the Old Quarter that are worth exploring. Here's a list:
1. Cho Hom Market
Another destination fabrics lovers need to check out is Cho Hom. It is also the local food market, so fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, seafood, meat and other groceries, shoes, apparel, and homeware.
Its main draw is the second floor, wholly devoted to selling fabrics. Any fabric you like is available there, from cotton to linen to wool, synthetics, and other unrecognizable ones.
What I appreciate is when I bring the design, the sellers usually know how much of the cloth you need to have done. Taxi drivers know this place well, so it is easy to go there. Watch this video of the market:
2. Thai Tuan Silk Store
Just across from Cho Hom is Thai Tuan, where you can buy manufactured silk fabrics. This store is the showroom of the fabric manufacturer, Thai Tuan, so there are many choices. Besides, they also custom make ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress.
If you are not into ao dai, you can bring your cloth to one of the shops in the Old Quarter that sews. There are a few around the Roman Catholic Cathedral as well.
Prices in Thai Tuan are fixed and displayed in bold print, so there is no need to haggle. There's always a staff member who speaks English to help you with your order. They'll know exactly how much fabric you need if you show them the style.
Here's the showroom address: 71 Pho Hue St., Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi.
Tel.: (04) 3943 9097
3. Kana Fashion
41 and 56 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem and 220 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh
Since the time I found this store, it has become a favorite. I just revisited this store the other day, and I was impressed. I got several clothes from their new arrivals and their winter clothing sale.
Their staff is always patient when they help you try on the clothes. The designs are beautiful, and the prices are excellent, not as expensive as the other stores.
Check out their store in Kim Ma, as the street offers many other clothing stores. You can spend time there just going from one store to the other.
4. Atelier Pascale
For those who love to buy lacquerware, this is the place to go. This place also sells other craft items like scarves and those made from horn and what is interesting is you can watch how these items are made in their workshops right there in the complex.
Ai Mo Street - Bo De Ward
Long Bien District, Hanoi, Vietnam
5. Mekong Quilts
13 Hang Bac St., Hoan Kiem
(In the Old Quarter)
Working with women in Vietnam and Cambodia, this NGO sells some of the most beautiful and intricate quilts.
You can also order and have it mailed to your place. The staff here speak English and are always happy to help.
I bought a baby quilt two weeks ago, and they also mailed it for me to Australia.
47 Hang Gai St. and
33A Van Mieu, Hanoi
(where Temple of Literature is)
Fair Trade and organic store dedicated to saving traditional handicraft.
Indigo has a workshop on top of the shop at Van Mieu staffed by the deaf and mute. You can see how they tie dye cloth, embroider accessories into some of the finest woven cloth.
Right beside the Temple of Literature, this store offers topnotch design and quality in natural fabrics.
There are also unique home and personal accessories such as scarves, bags and fashion jewelry in ethnic design as well as organic soap and teas from Vietnam.
My husband's shirts fitted him perfectly. I ordered an item there and the owner would not let me have it until he has perfected it so Indigo's commitment to quality is very high. For more on Indigo, check this out.
7. Made in Vietnam (MIV)
22 Dien Bien Phu or 21 B. Phan Dinh Phung St.
I had a short shopping spree in the United States last summer, just before leaving for Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi, I scrutinized the pants I bought and the light coat for my husband, which we chose carefully in one of the top-end stores.
When I looked carefully, I found out that they were from Vietnam. They were a good fit and of excellent quality. So, I started scouring the Made in Vietnam stores.
I am petite, so I can easily find my size, but many will have difficulty looking for their size. Your best bet is to have some custom-made clothes.
Vietnam has gone beyond the usual cheap clothing manufactured in their factories as young Vietnamese designers create a more sophisticated fashion industry.
One to watch is Eco Fashion designer, Than Vu of Kilomet 109, who not only creates unique designs but helps Vietnamese villagers improve their traditional fabric. For her work, she was recently the winner of the British Fashion Councils Young Creative Entrepe.
73 Trang Thi St. Hanoi
If you like uniquely crafted bags, this is the place to go. I got a bag from here, but my friend liked it when I arrived in New York, so I gave it to her.
43, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi
(Close to the Temple of Literature)
Supporting this store is investing in the livelihood of ethnic minorities—the well-crafted products from cotton and linen apparel to lacquerware, bamboo ware, ceramics, and other gift items. Our grandchildren love the embroidered wallets I bought from this store. They love to use these as pencil cases.
Last time, I bought our neighbor's kids (assorted teens and young adults) some of the leg bracelets. The design and colors are unique to Vietnam, but these kids love to wear these all the time and order more.
For fans of home accessories, check out UMA outlets. UMA is a Swedish manufacturer with several outlets in Hanoi. They have beautiful cushions and dining and kitchen items to fill your luggage.
More Shopping Tips in Hanoi:
Other than these, coffee is one of the best Vietnam buys. You can try whatever coffee that's unfamiliar to you. Many stores that sell this coffee always offer to make you a cup.
These stores are not hard to find as you walk along the streets in the Old Quarter. Try the Weasel Coffee, and you'll be surprised at how the weasels have added their terrific enhancement to an otherwise regular coffee.
If tea is your preferred drink, Thai Nguyen Tea is the best in Vietnam. My friends in Canada to whom I gifted this tea enjoyed it. Green tea is not bitter at all.
Go to Hang Da Market in the Old Quarter for quality local furniture. There are several floors of furniture, local and Western designs.
Hang Da Market Adress: Ngõ Trạm, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Here's my latest discovery, the Ivy Mode store in Pho Ba Trieu. On my morning walk, checking out streets close to us, I saw many people visiting this store. I saw on the window that they have a 50% sale.
In I went, and the store was jam-packed. I chose a few to try and went into the dressing room, and people were trying on clothes, three in a room.
I went in and had fun with everyone, trying their picks and commenting on what they had on. I decided to buy one dress, and paying is another hurdle, but get in line, and your time will come. It is, I found out, a trendy store for fashion-conscious men and women in Hanoi.
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