While the streets around the edges of Old Quarter tend to be oriented towards local life, Hang Buom smoothly makes the transition into tourist-land.
Hang Buom originally sold sails. There’s little demand for these anymore and at the western end of the street what you will instead find are many stores selling confectionery. It’s been particularly busy and lively recently, in the run up to the Tet holidays, but at any time of year its a colourful street, proudly displaying a wide array of packaged goodies as well as dried fruits, nuts and seeds. If you’re more a savoury person, look out for the cooked meat store at No. 108.
Midway along the street, at the junction of Hang Giay, is the temple for which Hang Buom is best known: Bach Ma Temple. One of the main temples in Hanoi, Bach Ma honours a white horse which appeared to Ly Thai To, the founder of Hanoi, and directed him to the appropriate place to build the Citadel.
It’s after the temple that the tourist-orientated bars and restaurants start appearing. Arriba, a Mexican place, is at No. 48, Ladybird and Blue Butterfly are on the right a bit further down, and late night bars Temple and Dragonfly are at the eastern end.
Then it’s onto Ma May. Ma May, meaning rattan or cane, is a combination of Hang Ma and Hang May — the latter two streets were at the beginning and end of Ma May street. Ma May could now be translated as hotel street, or grilled beef street, or travel agent street. Take your pick as you’ll find them all along here.
Places in particular to watch out for along Ma May include: Hanoi Backpackers’ huge new hostel, right next to mid-range Medallion Hotel; Papaya T-shirt’s store, with pricier but better quality Ts than your average tourist ones; grilled beef stalls; and a fruit shop, which serves up tasty and fresh smoothies and juices.
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