The Old Quarter contains many historic sights, such as temples, pagodas, and assembly halls (wiki, map). Another common name referring to approximately the same area is the 36 streets. The most famous trait of the Old Quarter are its areas dedicated to one specific trade or guild. Craftsmen from villages around the city used to gather in one area of their guild to sell their wares to merchants.
A night market (near *Đồng Xuân Market, map) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
Hanoi was the capital and the administrative center for French Indochina for most of the colonial period (from 1902 to 1945). The French Colonial architecture style became dominant, and many examples remain today: tree-lined boulevards (such as Phan Dinh Phung street (map), Hoang Dieu street and Tran Phu street) and many villas, mansions, and government buildings.
Many of the colonial structures are an eclectic mixture of French and traditional Vietnamese architectural styles, such as the National Museum of Vietnamese History (map), the *Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts (map) and the old *Indochina Medical College (map).
French Colonial buildings in Hanoi are mostly in Ba Đình District and the south of Hoàn Kiếm District, the two French Quarters of the city.
Hanoi Train Street (map). Trains pass through the narrow passage very close to the cafes. Because of stupid tourists posing for selfies in front of oncoming trains, there are now police posted at the entrance to order people away.
There is no such thing as one-directional traffic in Vietnam. When you leave the curb, look not only left and right, but to the front and back. Even up and down would not be amiss. Don’t rush. Do not make any erratic movements.
Summer, from May to August, is characterized by hot and humid weather with abundant rainfall. Winter, from December to January, is dry and cool by national standards.
! You’ve read warnings about pick pockets a hundred times, but in all of Asia, it’s rarely as true as for Hanoi’s busy and narrow Old Quarter or the Dong Xuan Night Market.