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Aug 15, 2016 / 16:55

Hanoi to pedestrianise more streets around Hoan Kiem Lake

The Hoan Kiem District’s People Committee has launched more walking streets to serve tourists’ exploration of Hanoi Old Quarter at weekends` nights since October, 2016.

A walking street in Hanoi Old Quarter
A walking street in Hanoi Old Quarter

This was announced at a recent meeting of the municipal People’s Committee. The streets include Dinh Tien Hoang, Le Lai, Le Thach, Dinh Le, Nguyen Xi, Trang Tien (from Ngo Quyen to Dinh Tien Hoang), Hang Khay, Le Thai To, Hang Trong (from St. Joseph’s Cathedral to Le Thai To), Nha Tho and the Cathedral square. 

The streets, which run around Hoan Kiem Lake, will be closed to traffic from 19:00 - 2:00 am in summer and 18:00 to 2:00 am in winter from Friday to Sunday and on some holidays. The inauguration ceremony is set to be held on October 7 as part of activities to mark the 62nd anniversary of the capital's Liberation Day (October 10, 1954). 

The streets would open for pedestrians from 6am on Saturday to 10pm on Sunday. The same schedule would apply on national holidays. The project is expected to help preserve the capital's culture and boost tourism and trade. 


The walking street area is famous for many historical relics dating back to the 18th -19th century such as the temples of Bach Ma, Quan De and Huong Tuong together with houses of old architecture typical of Hanoi. Along the streets, performances of traditional music “hat xam” (minstrel songs), “chau van” (spiritual singing), and “ca tru” (ceremonial singing) as well as jazz will be organised. 

Hanoi Old Quarter was listed among the best 95 attractions in the Capital in 2014 by the US’s premier travel website TripAdvisor. Hanoi will create extra walking streets for pedestrians to enjoy the Old Quarter while promoting culture and culinary delights of the 1,000-year-old city. 
Playing badminton on a walking street when there is no vehicle
Playing badminton on a walking street when there is no vehicle

Kim Eun-hee, a visitor from the Republic of Korea said visiting Hanoi and discovering the Old Quarter and its eating-places was a dream come true for her and her friends. Kim said she had wanted to visit the Old Quarter for a long time and finally got the chance when she was invited to a wedding in Hanoi . 

Cha Ca La Vong restaurant is one of her picks to visit, though it was famous for just one dish. "After reading the contents of a little book on the plane, I decided that Cha Ca La Vong would have to be one of my first destinations upon arriving in Hanoi," Kim said. "Cha Ca La Vong turned out to be a veritable Hanoi institution," she said, adding that it was a must-visit place if you enjoy different tastes on your travels. Kim said she added everything to the fish, scallion and dill mixture – lots of peanuts, a few sprigs of coriander, and a large spoonful of the mam tom – stirred it all together and took a bite. 

"It was piping hot and I had to wait until my mouth cooled down in order to appreciate the delicate balance of the flavours," Kim said. "The flaky white fish was perfectly seasoned with what one diner thought must be turmeric or saffron; the fresh dill and coriander gave it an earthy taste while the crunchy peanuts gave it texture. "After we finished our second pan of fish and polished off all of the trimmings, we sat back completely satisfied." 

The shop owners said of the ingredients: two drops of an essence extracted from the scent gland of the ca cuong (beetle) which has made the Doan family's cha ca recipe such a success for more than a century. "The dish was so tasty and delicious I will tell my family members and friends to come here to enjoy it. It was unforgettable," said Kim. 

Belgian businessman, Daniel Vanhoute who has visited Vietnam many times, said he never missed a trip to Hanoi 's Old Quarter to enjoy the small streets, tube houses and bustling business. "I become a pho addict whenever I am in Hanoi ," said Vanhoute, adding that Vietnamese pho is a "world phenomenon". 
Playing the guitar and some instrument at the crossroads of a walking street in Hanoi
Playing the guitar and some instrument at the crossroads of a walking street in Hanoi

"I often eat pho from a vendor near my house for its taste and convenience." Pho is one of Hanoi 's iconic dishes. Few people in the capital haven't sat down to a bowl of the steaming noodle soup, with beef, chicken or tripe chunks floating in it – perfect to ward away the winter chills. 

Meanwhile, Frank Muller from Germany , who has been working in Vietnam for years, welcomed the opening of more streets for pedestrians only, saying he liked going to the night market with his Vietnamese girlfriend. 

"We come to the market not for buying things but to discover the quarter by night and enjoy the fine art and handicrafts performances, particularly traditional arts such as cheo (traditional opera) and ca tru (ceremonial singing)," Muller said. He said the Old Quarter is very special: not magnificent but very attractive. 

"Very few countries in the world have a 1,000-year- old area like Hanoi . What I most remember about it is the small streets with bustling souvenir shops and special dishes," he said. The 3km market is located along the centre of the Old Quarter stretching past ancient houses and dead end streets from Hang Dao to Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square. 

A group of travellers from the US came to visit his stall. The group's leader, James Rhode, who has been in Hanoi many times, said his friends had asked him to guide them on a tour of the capital. "The Old Quarter is one of our must-see destinations. Its culture, history and food are very attractive," said Rhode. 

"Apart from cultural and historical sites in the Old Quarter, we also wish to visit the ruins of the Thang Long royal capital city and pagodas and temples such as Tran Quoc Pagoda to understand more about Hanoi ," said Rhode. 

The parking lots will also be used for public vehicles. Neighbouring streets will also be used as parking places on holidays. The piloted period will run until the Lunar New Year (Tet) Holiday 2017.