Local markets offer the best produce in Hanoi, as well as the most concentrated experience of local life. Fruit, vegetable and meat stalls are just the beginning—farmers squat on the side of the road with vegetables in bamboo baskets, vendors push bicycles through the crowds, calling out their wares, and roasting meat sizzles over open flames. The meat stalls can be quite graphic, with animal heads, ears and feet for display, and the first time you see dog meat for sale may be shocking.
Foreigners are usually charged higher prices than locals. Bargaining is accepted practice, though produce is so cheap that you may find yourself haggling over a few cents—if you are good-natured about bargaining, no one will take offense.
These markets are open from early morning to midday, then go dormant for the afternoon. They come to life again in the late afternoon, but by 7 pm most stalls have started packing up for the night, though fruit stands generally stay open till 9 pm.
Your landlord or housing agent can tell you where to find the nearest open-air market—there’s one in every neighborhood. Here are some of the biggest ones in the city (“cho” means “market”):
Located at Hai Ba Trung and Ly Thuong Kiet, with an especially wide variety of fruits and vegetables; this market also sells western goods and crockery.
Located at the corner of Hoang Hoa Tham and Duong Buoi, this market sells plants and pets as well as local produce.
Cho Dong Xuan
The central market of the central market district, Cho Dong Xuan seems to have MORE than everything, including dried fruits, nuts, dried seafood, pulses, textiles, spices and grains, footwear, cushions, bedding, hats and shoes, and of course a vast selection of fruits and vegetables. Located on Dong Xuan street at the north end of the Old Quarter.