Location of craftsman, artisans and manufacturers in Hanoi
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Self-Guided Tour of Hanoi’s Artisan Guild-Streets [MAP]

An alternative way to experience Hanoi is to visit its famous Guild streets. These streets used to be small neighbourhoods that were singularly dedicated to a traditional craft, such as wood-working, silk-making, painting, religious iconography, etc. Now, they have been absorbed into the Old Quarter’s matrix of streets.

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This is one of our favourite DIY-tours, but it is not for everyone. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, or if you are curious to see the real Vietnam according to its economic activity, these guild streets are super fascinating. Mix-in some breaks at local cafes, and you have a great self-guided tour of Hanoi.

Plus, you can find great bargains, or you can think of an inspiring drop-shipping idea.

Where are the Guild Streets in Hanoi? [MAP]

The streets are marked on the Google Map below — click on the Red Marker’s in the map. See also the descriptions below, with Google Map links.

NOTE: If you tour these places, there won’t be any tourist signs or guides to help you. Some of the places will be obvious and compactly clustered, while others will be more indistinct.

But, if you have an attitude of discovery, it is a pleasant excuse to get out and see the real Vietnam.


Fine Art Paintings & Sculptures in Hanoi

Where: Hàng Bông

There are numerous gallaries and “copy-artists” scattered all over Hanoi. But, for real original paintings and sculptures, go to Hàng Bông. You’ll need a discriminating eye to discern copy-artists from originals — sometimes copy-artists can be as good or better than the original artists.

Original paintings on  Hàng Bông street, Hanoi, Vietnam. Phuong Quoc Tri; Nghiem Xuan Hung; Hoang Hai Anh
Original art on Hàng Bông street. Left: Phuong Quoc Tri; Centre: Nghiem Xuan Hung; Right: Hoang Hai Anh

These galleries are great if you want to find new and upcoming Vietnamese artists whose pricetags haven’t yet breached the $6000 USD mark. You can also order custom portraits and series — if I were to decorate an office or hotel, I would order a series from these galleries.

RELATED: our favourite Dark Cityscape Paintings from Vietnam


Bamboo/Rattan Accessories

Where: Quang Trung (near Nguyễn Du lake)

Handmade wicker accessories made from bamboo, rattan, seagress and other natural fibres.

Rattan/Bamboo Accessories

Hand-made wicker products from the guild street on Quang Trung

Rattan purse

Hanoi’s wickers are a major supplier of natural-fibre fashion items

Bamboo purses exploded in popularity in 2016 — now they can be seen all over Hanoi. We love them: they’ve matured from simple round purses to a huge industry of natural-fibre accessories and furnishings, like mats, wall-hangings, wicker chairs, bowls, and of course many variety of fashionable women’s purse.

The workshops are technically located outside of Hanoi. But the showrooms near the old-quarter are still interesting to visiting. You can get in contact with the manufacturers to arrange custom designs and/or commercial orders. Some do drop-shipping as well.

At the very least, it is a great opportunity to load-up on gifts for your friends and family members.


Bàn thờ – Religious Alters & Ornaments

Where: Hàng Quạt

This is a lovely quiet street that makes religious shrines, alters, statues, ornate frames, tombstones, and even costumes for religious plays.

Vietnamese Alter

Handmade alter on Hang Quat street, Hanoi

Shrine Ornaments

Wooden lotus flowers for shrines

Shrine Ornaments

Handmade wooden fan for Vietnamese shrines

Be warned: these aren’t the boho faux-Buddhist stores for the spiritually-confused hippies of North America: these are austere, down-to-business places that furnish the alters of Vietnamese households, where family members have a duty to follow rituals and maintain the alters for their ancestors.


Wood & Metal Furnishings

Where Đê La Thành /Lê Thành

This street is buzzing with heavy economic activity. They make all sorts of furnishings, both domestic and industrial: cabinets, desks, shelves, iron-works, building ornaments, mounting racks, too much to list.

Vietnamese handmade wood and metal furnishings in Le Thanh street
Woodwork and iron-works on the industrial street of Le Thanh

Although not pretty looking, this is a fascinating street where furniture and metal-workers have their workshops and galleries mixed together on the street. Be careful not to trip over the power-tools and materials encroaching on the sidewalk.

These heavy-duty products are not attractive for baggage-limited tourists. But if you want to custom-order unique furniture, or find a new supplier for your e-commerce store, Le Thanh is the spot to visit.


Jewelry (Jade, Silver, Pearls)

Where: Hàng Bạc (for general jewelry and jade), or
Trần Nhân Tông (for gold specifically)

Pearls, jade, silver, and gold jewelry, or just artisanal handicrafts. Beware fakes and the old switcheroo trick.

Artisanal jewelry and jade on Hang Bac, Hanoi
Jewelry stores on Hang Bac street, Hanoi.

The gold businesses are particularly interesting because gold was an important vehicle of Vietnamese wealth-building during the bad times of cripplingly high-inflation. Trading gold used to be the hobby of household matriarchs. Because of this culture, you can still find gold-shops that cater to both traders and jewelry-lovers, with live ticker-prices displayed side-by-side vanity mirrors (e.g., PNJ shop).

For investors from the West, who are used to exorbitant fees to procure and secure physical gold, it could make financial sense to fly to Hanoi specifically to acquire high-purity physical gold.

Other metals, like silver, are important as an old medical treatment: it is thought to draw-out negative energy from a sick body. It is also used as a gift to mark the 1-month anniversary of newborn babies.


Tailoring

Where: Hàng Gai

Custom tailored suits in Hanoi, Vietnam
There is no reason not to get a custom tailored suit in Hanoi

Finding tailors for suits or dresses is not hard in Hanoi. Almost every neighbourhood has a tailor, and many cater to tourists and capital-ambassadors. Nonetheless, the street of Hàng Gai is a good place to start. There is no reason NOT to get a quality tailored garment in Hanoi.


Lanterns & Boutique Paper

Where: Hàng Mã

Where to buy lanterns in Hanoi's Old Quarter, on Hang Ma street
Lanterns and boutique paper-products in Hang Ma near the Old Quarter. Photo credit Will @ VietnamDaily.ca

Hàng Mã has fragile paper-based products, such as ceremonial lanterns. They also sell paper simulacra for ritualistic burning — a religious ritual to give gifts to spirit-ancestors.

The street also has a wide variety of holiday-themed cheap retail products.

Related: Burning Paper-Mache Iphones in Vietnam


Fabric

Where: Hôm market
See also Hàng Buồm for sewing accessories

The fabric market of Hom, beloved by Vietnamese artisans and foreigners alike
The fabric market of Hom, beloved by Vietnamese artisans and foreigners alike. Photo credit Lynn @ VietnamDaily.ca

The fabric products at the Hôm market are not so much about craftsmanship — instead, they are the wholesale life-blood of local seamstresses and tailors. Some of the fabrics are made within Vietnam, but most higher-end fabrics come from Japan, Italy and Australia.


Metal Workers (Tools, Kitchenware, and more)

Where Hàng Điếu / Hàng Thiếc and Lò Rèn

The sound of hammers and forges let you know you’re in the neighbourhood of the metal-workers.

The forges and iron-workers on the streets of Hanoi: Lo Ren and Hang Dieu
The Hanoi iron workers, present and past

This is where light-manufacturing occurs for metal items like food carts, racks, industrial kitchenware, knives and other metal-ware. For instance, this is where all the banh mi carts are made.

This is interesting because the manufacturing is dwindling year by year: it is becoming a rarer opportunity to witness these street-side craftsmen before they disappear completely.

These shops are mostly dedicated to B2B sales, but tourists may be intersted in buying some Vietnamese coffee filters or random hand-made kitchware.


Silk Fashion

Where: Hàng Gai

The silk garments on Hàng Gai aren’t so much a guild-street, but a notable place for tourists seeking high-end boutique fashion, especially for garments made from the silk of the nearby Silk Village of Vạn Phúc.

In particular, the famous “Tân Mỹ” store is a favourite of visiting diplomats and celebrities — its a three-storey labyrinth of fashion, with different nooks for different designers and artists. This place will appeal to most retail shoppers. It is worth a visit if you can’t actually visit the Vạn Phúc Silk Village.


Miscellaneous – Tile, Instruments, Horticulture, Picture Frames

The following streets aren’t too interesting unless you are planning to build and furnish a home in Vietnam. Nonetheless, we include them here for completion, in case anyone is interested in finding sources of, for example, ornate picture frames or bathroom tiles.

Some of these products (like the instruments) have nearby Guild-Towns that are definitely worth a visit, but they require a full-day trip.


RELATED: Interested in exploring more of Hanoi? See our comprehensive guide to the Neighbourhoods of Hanoi, with interactive map.

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