Take a look into the city of Hanoi, you will easily see buying and selling activities everywhere. In every alley, a noodle shop, in every corner, a grocery stall that sells foodstuffs or household appliances. The folk name of Hanoi is Ke Cho, or “the market” – that name still lingers to the present as Hanoi is still the trading center of Northern Vietnam. If you want to shop and at the same time peeping into the corridors of Vietnamese culture and Hanoi local life in particular, then you there is something you can’t miss – spending some time at the market.
Like any other big city, the market is like blood to this 7.6-million-resident city. From the wholesale markets – distribution hub of innumerable goods and foodstuff to those specialized in one type of goods, from daily markets to fair ones, this city has it all. Though each of these markets has its own interesting characters, all have some features in common: they will give you a true taste of local life, being far less touristy than other destinations, and most open really early in the morning.
Below are most atmospheric markets recommended by Eviva Tour Vietnam, let’s find out and choose the markets of your interest, or choose them all, market lovers!
Long Bien Market – the most interesting wet market.
This is Hanoi’s biggest central food distribution market. Goods come from almost every place in the whole country, and even from neighboring nations. The time the city falls into sleep is when Long Bien market wakes up, lively and teeming with stallholders from local wet markets, restaurants and other businesses, and their delivery vehicles. The huge quantity of fresh produce, herbs, vegetables and tropical fruits in this vendor-frenzy, noisy and vibrant marketplace would be such a scene to remember.
Opening hour: 1am – 6am
Address: 189 Hong Ha, Phuc Xa, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, next to Long Bien bridge
- Come to visit the market really early in the morning. From 5:00 onwards, the market will gradually grind to a halt.
- This market is not for everyone. The sheer mass of activity leaves this wet market quite grungy and gritty.
- Be cautious of traffic in and out of the market. You can stand out of the way on the side near market entrance, or walk around the stall inside.
Quang Ba Flower market – an atmospheric flower garden
As a wholesale market, Quang Ba flower market is also bustling with sellers and customers from the very early hour of the morning. Here, there is only 1 type of good: flower and other flower-related stuff. This is an assembly point for flowers from Hanoi’s famous flower villages as Tay Tuu, Tu Liem, Me Linh or southern places like Da Lat in central highlands, or even exotic lands like Holland, from here fresh flowers will be distributed to the whole city of Hanoi and adjacent provinces.
Ambling through hundreds of colorful stalls, inhaling in the fragrance of fresh flowers is definitely worth an early morning. Compared to Long Bien, Quang Ba’s atmosphere is a bit calmer and cozier.
Opening hours: 2am – 10am
Address: Au Co, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho, Hanoi
As the sun goes up, this market comes to a grind and the colors in this market spread through the city in on vendors’ bikes, as you normally spot on the streets of Hanoi.
- Quang Ba market is divided into two shifts. Shift I from 2-4am is wholesales selling, shift II from 4am to daylight morning for flower-dealers. If you want to get a full glimpse of Vietnamese daily life, then the first shift is more recommended. The latter one is more well-lit and eye-pleasing, hence better for photographing.
- If you are not a morning person, a trip to Quang Ba market during the morning is still refreshing as vendors and stallholders still sell flowers until noon.
- Around Tet, Quang Ba market opens all day, and become extremely bustling and vibrant. A feast for the eyes and nose.
Dong Xuan Market – the largest wholesale local market
Dong Xuan Market, known as Hanoi’s biggest cover market, is a non-touristy market located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, only 900m north of Hoan Kiem Lake. For over 100 years, this market has been a trading hub of Ha Noi. A wide range of products at a wholesale price can be found here, categorized into sessions, from the bustling wet market of fresh vegetable and fruits, the noisy back session for animals and plants on the ground floor, to endless stands of fabrics, clothing, and shoes on the second floor.
Compared to Ben Thanh market, Dong Xuan market is much less touristy. This market is mostly for locals, hence the price is really good. Either looking for knock-offs of reasonable quality, or just emerging yourself in this boisterous atmosphere of a Hanoian market, Dong Xuan is a totally must-see spot when coming to Hanoi.
Opening Hours: 6am – 7pm
Address: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Outside the market, you can find Dong Xuan alley connecting Cau Dong and Hang Chieu is a haven for budget eateries, while to the north, you will find a few open-air restaurants.
Hanoi Night Market – a leisure stroll
Apart from the daytime market, on weekend nights from Friday to Sunday, the area around Dong Xuan market becomes an extension of Hanoi Night Market. This market stretches from Hoan Kiem Lake, through Hang Dao – Dong Xuan walking street to the gate of Dong Xuan. More than just the souvenirs, local snacks, and inexpensive clothes, the night market also gives you a chance to experience a bustling Hanoi at night.
Street performances as folklore activities or local rock band can add to the sentiment. Walking around the old quarter, particularly the night market and drink streetside beer is a great way to spend the weekend in Hanoi.
However, the street food is not a plus point of this night market. Most of them are grilled sausages and meat skewers. So I would suggest tastier local choices in case you need to warm up your belly before going back to your hotel.
- “Bun thang” – 48 Cau Go
- Dried beef salad – 23 Ho Hoan Kiem
- Huyen Anh rib porridge – Dong Xuan market
Location: Hang Dao Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi
Opening hours: Fri – Sun 18:00 – 23:00
- The variety of clothes and trinkets sold here are quite cheap, but you can still do a lot of bargain
- Watch out for pickpockets as the market is crowded
Hom Market – the fabrics market of Hanoi
If you are a stitcher, a sewing lover or just a tourist who wants to buy some good-quality fabrics at a bargain, Hom market would be the place to go. In Hanoi, this market is noted for its most extensive collection of fabrics, which are sold on the second floor. You might not find any souvenirs here as this is definitely a local market where local tailors and tourists looking to purchase materials for their own custom-made clothing. The sheer quantity of fabrics, from rayon, silk, chiffon, linen, cotton, stretch wool, laces to tweed, nylon, brocade, etc… would make your heart – skip a beat. The prices are also negotiable where you can get up to 50% off the retail prices.
Opening Hours: Daily 06:00 -17:00
Address: Gate 1 – No. 293 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Gate 2: No.79 Hue Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
You can also take a nice stroll around the local market on the ground floor, where fresh vegetables and fruits, seafood are supplied daily. Within this indoor market, and the surrounding areas, there are also myriads of local eateries, from street vendors selling fruits and delicacies, pho and bun, to more modern cafe shops.
- Cho Hom can be pronounced like “Church Holmes” without their ending sounds, in case you find it hard to find this market
- As Hom Market is a truly local one, you should be prepared that not many locals can speak English. Come here with a local at best, bring a calculator with you for better communication, and try to bargain a price down to a half at first. And of course, use cash only.
- You should come here late morning onwards in order not to be the first customer of the shop (In Vietnamese sellers’ belief, the first customer who does not buy often bring misfortune)
Is this a pet market?
Yes, Buoi market is among the oldest ones in Hanoi that offer pets, ornamental plants, and flowers. Located along Hoang Hoa Tham Street, this fair market is held on auspicious days of every lunar month, namely the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th, and 29th. On these days, the normally lively street of Hoang Hoa Tham will be tenfold that of regular days, with myriads of seedlings, flowers and several types of pets from neighboring areas.
Opening hours: the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th and 29th every lunar month
Location: Hoang Hoa Tham Street
This is also the market that I mention in the last article about Markets in Vietnam, where cozy atmosphere is the anchor in the memory of local people about markets: “Previously, as the 15th of December came, I would then sell “dong” leaves and some ginger here. These days, I am too old to sell anything, yet when Tet comes near, I still come here to breathe in this atmosphere.” In fact, for several days before Tet, Buoi market is a favorite destination for flower and pet lovers. Full array of numerous flowers, like peach blossom, violet, orchid or kumquat trees, together with market-goers, turn this market into a hub of blooming goodness.
In these days where convenience stores and supermarkets are springing up like mushrooms, Hanoians still love going to the market. Carried with this habit are timeless cultural and social values of the Trang An people. To discover more about what is the essence of these traditional markets and Hanoi in general, choose to travel with us by our travel consultants at [email protected].