Having a bit of a take-me-back moment after flicking through some of the photos I took in Vietnam last July when I visited with my baby sister over the weekend, and talking food & travel at the Zomato blogger meet up last night (more on that later today!). It’s another world, and I mean that in the absolute best possible way… Anyway, I stopped on the page of the photo book from this particular night in Hanoi, and it made me smile 🙂 There’s not much I love more than a bat-sh#t crazy market in a foreign city, which doesn’t make much sense for an introvert like me. I don’t know, there’s just something about being able to get caught up in the mayhem and lost in the crowd and unfamiliar surroundings that gets me… Markets are the best places to be when you’re in a city you’ve never visited before, because that’s the place to see it at it’s most real.
The Dong Xuan Weekend Night Market in Hanoi is one of those perfect examples. It’s not set up for tourists, it’s set up for the locals. Haphazardly, at best; at the time we were told by our hotel receptionist that the market started, tables and clothing racks were still being casually walked up the main street for set up. It’ll be ready when it’s ready, no sooner. The signs, for the most part were in Vietnamese. Hardly any of the vendors spoke English. If you’re anything like me, good luck buying clothing – this stuff is made for the more slender builds of the Vietnamese, not “big” Western girls like myself; I was able (to my shock) to buy myself a tight fitting dress in America in a size small with still a little room to spare, but an XL shirt didn’t fit me in this Vietnamese market. Go figure…
When you’re in Hanoi, you want to be getting down to the west end of Hanoi’s old quarter – it’s bordered by Hang Khoai and Cau Dong Streets. Best way to get there is to ask the no doubt helpful and lovely staff at your hotel or hostel for directions, and put on comfy walking shoes! While it’s concentrated on one main street, you’ll also find “stalls” like the one below set up off side streets. We were looking for food, we found taffeta and sparkles. What’d we learn from that? Don’t bother looking down the side streets for food, eat at the street vendors dotted around the market! And remember to grab a fried donut on a stick – they’re amazing, and absolutely everywhere!
As for the shopping? Super, ridiculously cheap, as you’d expect. Prepare to barter, don’t expect it to be in English. You’ll be using either their calculator or the one on your phone; just establish first whether they’re giving you the price in Vietnamese dong or US dollars. Enjoy the shopping, eating, and generally chaotic market fun!