What to see with half day free in Hanoi? If you give this question to all visitors who has been to Hanoi, they will say Hanoi Old Quarter. Hanoi would not be Hanoi if there is no Old Quarter. These amazing streets date back to the 13th century when the Ly dysnaty set up the commercial centre for Dai Viet. The name of each street was based on the ware and products being sold here. The difference of the Old Quarter at old time and its present-day Old Quarter is the honking of passing motobikes, cylos and hawkers carrying local products by a long pole on their shoulders.
Geographily, to the South of the Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem lake. To the east of Hanoi Old Quarter is the Red River. To the North, Hang Dau tower stands and to the West is the Old Citadel. The Old Quarter started with 36 commercial streets. These were 36 important kinds of wares being made and traded here. It is an important econemic centre at that time. Nowadays, wandering around here is like "getting lost in the maze". It is one of the biggest joys on Hanoi vacation.
In term of architecture, each street in this area comprises a lot of tube houses. The house is long with a good looking shop in front. The locals live at the back and on the second floor. The house waspermited with 3 floors because it could not be taller than the royal palace. Why is the house so narrow and long like this? - It is the tax put on the width of the shop at that time. The land price in the bustling streets has always been expensive(Nowadays, its price is more expensive than any city in the West). This style has influnced Vietnamese architecture. Along the way from North to South, you will see many houses in this style because the front where business offices, shops or any kinds are conducted. We love the house which has a street in the front.
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