Hanoi markets guide Vietnam

Bustling night markets in the Old Quarter

Bustling night markets in the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s markets, known as ‘cho’ in Vietnamese, mostly sell food and household goods, so are not the place to go looking for souvenirs. However, they are well worth visiting to get a feel for local life and to puzzle over foodstuffs on display that you’ve never seen before.

Several of them also sell fabrics in case you are looking for an attractive cotton or silk pattern to take to a tailor to have a shirt or dress made. Don’t forget to take your camera along as the colourful displays and smiling vendors make for great shots. Also be on your guard in crowded areas for pickpockets.

If you are interested in making a purchase, check out prices at a few different stalls selling the item you want (they’ll probably show you on a calculator), and if you’re still interested make an offer. The vendor will probably drop the price and eventually you’ll agree on a figure.

Bargaining is always done in good spirits and can even lead to new friendships. The trick is to be courteous yet indifferent to the purchase. Let the stallholder know you like the item but are not willing to part with too much money to get it.

Recommended Hanoi markets

Cho Hang Da: located to the west of Hoan Kiem Lake off Hang Ga, this smallish market is also worth taking a look at. It features imported alcohol, ceramics, textiles and ready-made clothes and is often crowded with local shoppers.

Cho Hom: just outside the city centre at the junction of Hue and Tran Xuan Soan Roads, this market specializes in fabrics, though it also sells a dizzying variety of foodstuff and offerings for temples.

Cho Dong Xuan: this is the city’s biggest market and also one of the most convenient to visit as it is located in the Old Quarter, on Dong Xuan. Sprawling over two blocks, it is packed with every type of food you can imagine, but also sells some souvenirs such as conical hats. If you’re looking for fabrics, don’t miss the stalls upstairs where you’ll find an endless range of colours and patterns.

Cho Cua Nam: this place sees few tourists, being located some blocks north of the city’s train station. Yet if you’re in this part of town, it’s worth wandering through to see the bright, scented, tropical flowers on display.

19-12: named after the date of a key battle with the French in 1946, this small market occupies a couple of alleys that connect Hai Ba Trung and Ly Thuong Kiet. It’s limited to fruit and vegetables but is still worth visiting for the lively atmosphere and colourful scenes.

Flower market: located at the junction of Nghi Tam and Yen Phu Roads to the north of the city centre, this wholesale market specializes in flowers of all kinds. However, you’ll need to be a flower fanatic to make the most of it, as it’s at its busiest around 02:00-05:00, long before dawn.

Night market: another convenient market is on Hang Giay in the Old Quarter, where the street is closed to traffic in the evenings. Most stalls sell souvenirs for tourists, though what’s on display is very similar to the stock in local shops.

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