Dec 23 2011
I have a confession to make: it’s taken me nearly two years to get round to fully exploring Hanoi‘s Dong Xuan night market. I’ve wandered in half-heartedly before but never have I explored the depths of its wonder. But now all that has changed.
It’s crowded, noisy and brightly lit — a real assault on the sense, but I say that in a good way. A huge range of goods is available for haggling over — key rings, cuddly toys, handbags, clothes for starters — and there’s a good vibe. You won’t be jostled by motorbikes as the market is pedestrianised, but do keep a firm grip on your bag at all times.
I read somewhere that the market was for tourists, but one thing I didn’t see much in the way of was souvenirs, and I certainly wouldn’t say that the clothes and bags on sale were very tourist-orientated — although there were plenty of warm clothes for Hanoi’s winter. Shoppers were mainly young Vietnamese — it’s a social destination for hanging out as much as shopping, really — with a fair smattering of foreigners.
As for prices, I heard that tourists should aim for paying 70% of the item’s starting price, while locals can aim more optimistically for 50% or less. So try your luck.
As well as the market there are night food stalls. Running along the northern side of Dong Xuan market building you’ll find a row of restaurants primarily serving up hotpot, and mobile stands can be found throughout the market selling snack foods.
Browsing the market is an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so in the evening, and you might find something to your taste — even if it’s just the hotpot.
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