Walking Tour: Old Quarter

  • Start Ngoc Son Temple
  • End P Nha Tho
  • Length 3.5km; minimum two hours

Start at the Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake. Return over the red Huc Bridge, to the photogenic Martyrs’ Monument. Follow P Dinh Tien Hoang to the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre. Head north on P Hang Dau, but don't get too sucked in by all the cheap shoes in the shoe shops. Cross P Cau Go to P Hang Be for the local market on P Gia Ngu.

Back on P Hang Be, continue north to P Hang Bac: look out for artisans hand carving intricate gravestones. Next, head up to the Heritage House on P Ma May, the street to come to for nightlife.

Return to P Hang Bac, passing jewellery shops, to house 102, which includes a fully functioning temple. Retrace your steps and head up narrow P Ta Hien, popular for more after-dark bars. Turn left on P Hang Buom to the Bach Ma Temple, and continue to Cua O Quan Chuong, the well-preserved Old East Gate, for an obligatory photograph. Continue north to the street market on P Thanh Ha, then veer right to Dong Xuan Market.

Backtrack south on Nguyen Thien Thuat and turn right on to P Hang Chieu, past shops selling straw mats and rope. This becomes P Hang Ma where imitation ‘ghost money’ is sold for burning in Buddhist ceremonies. Follow your ears to the blacksmiths near the corner of P Lo Ren and P Thuoc Bac. Continue along Lan Ong to the pungent fragrances of herb merchants.

Double back to P Thuoc Bac and head south past the tin-box makers, opposite the mirror shops on P Hang Thiec. Continue left towards shops selling Buddhist altars and statues along P Hang Quat.

Head south past P Luong Van Can’s toy shops, and continue along P Hang Gai for elegant silk shops. Head south on P Ly Quoc Su to St Joseph Cathedral, and the cafes on P Nha Tho and P Au Trieu.