Photo: Flag shop on the streets of Hanoi.

Au Trieu

3.5 1

Despite not being one of Hanoi's so-called 36 streets, Au Trieu is still worth browsing to enjoy a classic experience of shopping and eating.

Leafy and - relatively - peaceful.

Leafy and — relatively — peaceful.

Au Trieu was the nickname of Le Thi Dan, a female revolutionary of the early 20th century. Her nickname, meaning little Trieu in Han language, comes from “Lady Trieu”, a female warrior in third century Vietnam. Au Trieu was a member of two organisations — the Association for Modernization and Vietnamese for Eastern Study — and died a martyr after being detained by the French.

Bigger than an espresso.

Bigger than an espresso.

The eastern end of the street meets with Ly Quoc Su, near the junction of Nha Tho — itself home to many boutique shops and Western restaurants, Mediterranean and La Salsa. The section overlooking the cathedral courtyard is home to two excellent spots to enjoy a coffee or beer overlooking St Joseph’s: La Place has been around for years and still stands firm despite the change going on in the city around it and newcomer Marilyn’s brings a fresh alternative.

A girl's best friend.

A girl’s best friend.

Marilyn’s is a great concept: bringing together a cute clothes and home decor shop with a cafe/restaurant/bar. The food at Marilyn’s is average and drinks aren’t cheap, but breakfast is good and the balcony is a pleasant spot to sip a coffee and update your blog — even if the cathedral view is blocked by trees — and in the evening it’s a classy alternative to an Old Quarter bar.

Oh so pretty.

Oh so pretty.

Further along are a few so-so foot massage places and the well-rated Indigenous, great for a coffee break or to buy some interesting souvenirs. Then the road closes in and shops and restaurants appear on the left. The first is Le Petit Bruxelles, a Belgian restaurant with another branch on Xuan Dieu. With its large windows opening onto the street, it’s a relaxed and pleasant environment in which to enjoy the well-cooked European food and Belgian beers.

A touch of Northern Europe in Hanoi.

A touch of northern Europe in Hanoi.

Almost opposite is A Top Spot, a salon offering a range of beauty treatments. It’s the thinnest shop I’ve been in, so prepare to have to squeeze past the hordes of women having a mani-pedi and don’t come expecting much privacy. But the waxing is excellent and all treatments are good value.

The rest of the street is primarily a combination of hotels — including Impressive Hotel and First Choice Hotel — and independent clothes and decor stores. The shops are very enticing, with excellently considered window displays and signage and offer some good clothing and classy souvenir options.

For those moments when you really need a hair band...followed by a foot massage.

For those moments when you really need a hair band… followed by a foot massage.

As well as the interesting mix of shops and restaurants, and its proximity to St Josephs, Au Trieu has two other redeeming features: firstly, it’s quiet, and secondly, the back streets running to the north are wonderful places to wander. Don’t miss The Cart, my favourite place for a delivery sandwich, but also a tucked away corner to while away a few peaceful hours.

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