Like the well-known backpacker area in the southern city of Saigon’s downtown, the first reason many foreign backpackers favor the area is that the northern street offers typical tourism services including hotels, restaurants, CD shops, Internet cafes, souvenirs shops and tourist centers at reasonable prices.
Moreover, since most people in the area speak English, even local residents who run tourism services, the area is crowded with foreigners, no matter if the day is sunny or rainy.
Many tourists agree that Ta Hien is the first area they want to see in Vietnam, and also the last they visit before leaving the country.
Fresh beer – a specialty
While the HCMC backpacker area’s taverns and pubs attract tourists with many kinds of drinks, Hanoi’s area has a different item to fascinate visitors from other countries – fresh beer.
Along narrow Ta Hien, there are numerous street restaurants selling fresh beer – a kind of beverage which has been favored in the area for years.
“I meet many people from other countries in a very friendly and open atmostphere here.
We drink together, we talk together and even sing together,” Joseph, a tourist, shared.
Besides the cheap beer, which costs less than VND10,000 a glass, the area also arttracts customers with a diversity of food, ranging from foreign dishes to local street food.
The area isn’t only about food and drink though, as the street has also charmed passersby with the beauty of its ancient houses.
Food is sometimes simple like this
According to Luc, a local beer shop owner, the “beer culture” in the area was born around 1990 when some simpe shops were opened on the sidewalk, serving only fresh beer.
“We didn’t think that foreigners were going to love that style,” he said.
Gary, a German man who has lived in Vietnam for more than six years, said that he and an Egyptian friend go to the Old Quarter every night .
“We are not addicted to the beer, we are addicted to the atmosphere here.
Most customers are foreigners, and we feel like we’re home,” he shared.
“Besides, drinking beer here is interesting too, and we can enjoy the beauty of the street at night.”
Not only expats living in Hanoi, but passersby are also in love with the area.
“I love drinking beer here, not because it tastes good here, but because the atmostphere is really impressive.
This street is not large, but it is crowded, like a small Hanoi,” Mattali from Switzerland said.
“Most importantly, I can meet many international friends here.
Each one has their own life story, and we share in a common space, everybody feels relaxed,” she added.
Be careful or you shall be next!
However, the fact that a lot of people flock to the small area has recently caused a problem, as many tourists have complained of being ripped off by street vendors.
Do Quan, a tour guide, said he always tells his customers to be careful and walk in groups, as well as to avoid buying goods from street vendors, otherwise they will be ripped off or bring home poor-quality goods.
“However, many tourists have been victims of vendors’ tricks.
A hat sometimes even costs over ten dollars.
Travelers’ wallets and passports have gone missing, especially with tourists who travel alone,” Quan said.
Besides thieves, beggars also contribute to worsening the beauty of the tourism area in visitors’ eyes.
An army of beggars aged from 12 to 80, some of whom even pretend to be disabled, are ready to chase tourists wherever they go.
Earlier this month, Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District Police sanctioned more than 40 street sellers who used tricks to force tourists to buy their goods.
A street vendor tries to ask two tourists to by her goods