Street markets are one thing in Hanoi, the other thing are all the big markets that are dotted around the town. Dong Xuan market in the northern part of the Old Quarter is huge – it has at least three levels across three buildings (from what I could tell and explore).
At the bottom vendors are selling fruit, vegetables, dried produce, snacks, stationary, kitchen ware etc. and then on the following floors it is all about textiles.
Dong Xuan is clearly not a tourist market. If you’re looking for gifts to take home (i.e. silk cushion covers, chopsticks) you will need to go elsewhere. But if you are looking for interesting photo opportunities, people trading and haggling, then this is the place to go. The only problem is that the alleys next to the market stalls are small and you have to squeeze through them, you can’t carry anything big in your hands or on your back. Also, don’t forget, it is a market so people will be trading and they don’t want to be annoyed by a tourist or photographer blocking their way. You have to be mindful and let the people get on with their business.
Next up is the Chợ Hôm market – which is all about fabric. It’s in the southern part of Hanoi, at the corner of Tran Xuan Soan and Pho Hue. At the ground floor is the usual market with fruits and vegetables and a large corner dedicated to shoes, on the top floor (which would be a nice roof garden, if it were in use) is a fitness studio.
The fun part is in the middle, on the second floor of this building. The whole floor is divided into little stalls, each with a different proprietor, stacked floor to ceiling with fabric. The sellers sit on their fabrics, because there is no free space. All is packed and busy!