Travelers must experience these traditional customs when visiting Hanoi
Hanoi is well-known for its perfect combination of modernism and tradition, contemporary and classicism. Any travelers who stroll around the streets of the centuries-old capital will inescapably get fastinated by its quintessential culture and idiocrasies which are embedded deeply in the locals’ daily life. The following are top traditional customs that travelers cannot miss if you want to experience Hanoi as a true Hanoian.
Traditional markets are the essential part of Vietnamese people’s daily life. It’s not only a place for the locals to trade commodities and buy necessities but also reflects a long-standing traditional custom for so many years. The old-centuries capital used to have a wide network of markets interwoven between the streets. Many of them still remain until now but they have been restructured architecturally to adapt to a more open and developed economy and evolved to sell more various products instead of only some signature ones as before. The hustle and bustle of these markets is an irresistible appeal for many tourists visiting Hanoi.
- Đồng Xuân Market
One of the oldest markets that have been existing is Dong Xuan market. In the French colonial era, Dong Xuan market was just a small trading area consolidated with bricks and steel frames and used to sell many types of flowers and birds. Nowadays, although the outside appearance is almost the same, the interior architecture has been modified modernly with two main areas and three floors. The merchants display their products in different booths sitting close to each other.
Open time: Weekdays: 8h00 – 18h00; Weekends: 8h00 – 22h30
Address: Dong Xuan St., Hoan Kiem Dist., Hanoi
Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 6 min by car, 15 min on foot
- Hôm Market
Hom Market located in Hai Ba Trung district has marked an important historical event in 1946 as it witnessed a fierce battle of Vietnamese soldiers defending against the attack of the French expeditionary force. The market gathers a vast variety of commodities provided by over 500 merchants and is famous for selling fresh food and vegetables.
Open time: 6h00 – 18h00
Address: 79 Pho Hue, Hai Ba Trung St., Hanoi
Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 8 min by car, 19 min on foot
- Bưởi Market
Bưởi Market is one of the oldest markets in Hanoi that still maintain the tradition of periodical market gathering. The merchants gather at the market monthly on the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 29th of the lunar calendar, display and sell typical products like plants, flowers, seeds, planting tools, pets, etc. The market has a signature ancient tree at the intersection corner between Thuy Khue and Lac Long Quan St., which has been living for so many years. This tree had been used to tie horses and cows in the biggest cattle market at the end of the year so that people could choose and buy their favorite ones to get some luck. Travelers can visit the market and immerse in its unique atmosphere and the daily life of the locals.
Open time: 6h00 – 2h00
Address: Lac Long Quan St., Tay Ho Dist., Hanoi
Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 23 min by car, 50 min by bus
Traditional Tet Holiday
Tet is the most important traditional event in Vietnam. There is no exact date for Tet in the regular Gregorian calendar. It follows the lunar calendar and usually falls from the end of January to the middle of February. Vietnamese consider this as a ritual occasion to pay tribute to the ancestors and celebrate the arrival of spring, renewal and rejuvenation. During Tet Holiday, you will find most of the restaurants, bars, stores, tourist attractions, etc. closed as people are enjoying the holiday with their families. However, one or two weeks before the holiday, you can literally feel Tet spirit at every corner of the streets due to the hustle and bustle of people going out, shopping and preparing for Tet. If you are lucky to stay in Hanoi those days, don’t miss the opportunity to join the following local activities:
- Blend in with the locals at Hang Ma Street
Hang Ma St. is well-known for selling sparkling ornaments, red lanterns and signature decorations for Tet. During Tet Holiday, Hang Ma is one of the iconic places people gather to enjoy the radiant colorful, busy atmosphere of the holiday, take photos and save beautiful moments with friends and families.
Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 19 min on foot
- Visit Tet’s flower paradise: Nhat Tan Flower Garden and Quang An Flower Garden
Nhat Tan flower garden was once a peach blossom garden, but now it has been transformed into a multi-flower paradise. Walking in the breezy charm of Hanoi’s late winter between the radiant trees planted neatly in line and immersing in the beauty of flowers are definitely the best places to experience during Tet.
Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 18 min by car, 40 min by bus
If you want a more hectic and unique experience, you can visit Quang An flower market on the edge of West Lake at around 2 a.m. This night market is filled with piles of various species of flowers and normally lasts until sunrise. To catch the market in its full bustle, you need to go early in the morning, around 5:00 a.m. – this is when florists flood into the market to select the best flowers they need for the day.
Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 14 min by car, 30 min by bus
- Watch the spectacle of fireworks
Watching fireworks at the moment of transition into New Year is like a tradition of Hanoi people. Some locations for the best sight-seeing of the fireworks are Hoan Kiem Lake, Thong Nhat Park, Lac Long Quan flower garden, Van Quan Lake, and My Dinh National Stadium.
If you want to avoid the crowds, settle early into a nearby sky bar with a beautiful view for the fireworks performance. One of the most ideal spots is Terraco Sky Bar located on the rooftop floor of La Sinfonia del Rey Hotel & Spa that offers a panoramic view over Hoan Kiem Lake. Besides, Terraco Sky Bar has an annual countdown party with live music and mini games. If you have a chance to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Hanoi, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Terraco Sky Bar to join this special event. (More information about Terraco Sky Bar)
- Huong Pagoda Festival
Vietnamese people have a spiritual tradition of visiting pagodas to wish for luck in the upcoming year. Huong Pagoda Festival is one of the most famous festivals during Tet, especially amongst people from the northern provinces of the country. The locals visit Huong Pagoda in the most beautiful time of the year in order to not only pay respect to the Buddha but also enjoy the dreamy, tranquil landscape of Yen wharf and other sacred places of the complex. The festival includes a variety of cultural rituals and traditions such as boat cruise, trekking, hiking, folk music performances, etc. The festival attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Huong Tich cave and the other temples.
Location: Huong Son, My Duc, Hanoi
Time: From 6th January to the end of March (lunar calendar)
- Dong Da Festival
Dong Da Festival is held annually to celebrate and commemorate the glorious historical victory of Emperor Quang Trung, who defeated the Qin troops at Dong Da Hill on the 5th of Tet Ky Dau (in the first lunar month of 1789). King Quang Trung was the second emperor of the Tay Son dynasty and one of the most military commanders in Vietnam’s history. The festival features various physical games, activities, competitions, marital art which represent the power and intelligence of the country. Its most special party is the fire dragon which is decorated with straw, cataphyll, and coarse paper. The “Thang Long Fire Dragon” is the most unique and iconic highlight of the festival and has become a symbol of victory of the nation.
Location: Dong Da Mound, Dong Da District, Hanoi
Time: The 5th day of the first lunar month
Traditional Craft Villages
- Bat Trang Ceramic Village
Located on the banks of the Red River and about 14km from the centre of Hanoi, Bat Trang Ceramic Village is certainly an ideal choice for a short day trip on weekends. “Bat Trang” means “a large ground” in Vietnamese and was the place where five renowned families had maintained their own lines of handicraft ceramic products for many years. Nowadays, the tradition of producing high-quality handmade ceramic items still lives on in Bat Trang village ranging from household ceramics, worship items to fine pottery art, building ceramics and decorative ceramics. Not only are the products reputed amongst the locals but they are also regarded as a national iconic brand contributing to preserving the cultural values of the country.
There are many activities that you can enjoy at Bat Trang village including visiting the ancient house of Van Van (which displays wonderful architectural work from before the 15th century), joining festivals and cultural events in Bat Trang Ceramic Village Communal House, experiencing pottery making on the ceramic clay yard, etc. With only VND 40,000 – 60,000, you will be guided from start to finish to create your own ceramic products from clay and turntables. This is a must-have experience once you visit the village so make sure to spend some time to enjoy it.
Location: Bat Trang, Gia Lam
Best time to visit: Any time of the year
How to get there: Bus, taxi, motorbike
- “Vong” Green Sticky Rice Village
“Com” (green sticky rice) is a delicacy that is made only in autumn and cherished by all Vietnamese. For Hanoians, nothing evokes autumn like the taste of young rice from Vong village, the grain so sweetly scented that they left a lasting impression. Visitors to Hanoi during the com making season are invited to go to Vong Village where they will have a chance to listen to the special rhythmic pounding of wooden pestles against mortars filled with young rice and see women shifting and winnowing the pounded young rice. Coming to Vong Village, you can indulge yourself in the taste of various types of green sticky rice and even participate in some stages of the making process of “com”, which is definitely a must-try interesting experience.
Location: Dich Vong Hau, Cau Giay, Hanoi
Best time to visit: Autumn (August to October)
How to get there: Bus, taxi, motorbike
- Van Phuc Silk Village
Van Phuc Silk Village is located in Van Phuc Ward, Ha Dong District and 8km southwest of Hanoi. For centuries, silk has always been considered an extreme luxury, on par with rhinoceros horn, ivory and precious handworks in Vietnam. It has long been a universal by word of luxury, often worn by the richest, most powerful citizens. Most visitors somehow have heard about the significant role of this kind of material in Vietnam, yet might wonder where the cradle of Viet silk is. The mentioned Van Phuc Silk Village is proud to be the origin of best silk and silk-making industry of Vietnam, which is attached to a long-lasting history of more than two thousand years. Though passing by lots of ups and downs, during the recent years, the village’s craft has enjoyed revival due to a surging demand for silk in both the domestic and foreign markets.
Like other visitors to the village, you will be surprised at this colourful, glistening “silk shop town”, where almost all houses along the paths have been turned into shops selling silk products. You are offered a good chance to immerse in the mythological atmosphere and explore the Vietnamese traditional industry of silk-making. If you are going to buy something from Vietnam as gifts for those at home, silk and clothes made of silk are available around in the village for your choice. Though the days when Vietnam’s silk was reserved for nobility are long gone, what would never change is the sense of romance and luxury imparted by silk, a luminous cloth type.
Location: Van Phuc Ward, Ha Dong
Best time to visit: Any time of the year
How to get there: Bus, taxi, motorbike