Hang Gai / Hang Bong / Hang Trong
Start at the fountain on the northern tip of Hoan Kiem Lake, and with your back to the lake, turn left into Hang Gai – aka ‘silk street’ – home to a plethora of family-run textile shops. First, get energised for your spree with a java jolt at #11 Ca Phe Pho Co / 3928 8153 / reached via a narrow in-shop staircase and home to a scrummy iced cap. Ready? First up, on your left at #39 is Green Palm Gallery for a vast array of original paintings, followed by Hanoi Studio at #45, and nifty gallery Thanh Mai Gallery / #64 / 3828 7304 / (see Art for all three) across the road. Next door is Tan My / #66 / 3825 1579 / which has great embroidered linens, silks, cottons, beaut kiddy togs and blissful air con, and over the road at #61 is styley sister Tan My Design (see Standout Stores) for hip fashion and lifestyle plus café bites and joe. Chi Vang (see Adv. Shopping) has threads with edge at #63, then totter on to #79 M Collection / 3938 1898 / for a small but well-chosen bunch of lacquer, jewellery and collectibles. Mosey on to ArtCen at #80 / 825 6154 / which manages to cram a startling number of repellent items under one roof, but it does keep a good range of knick-knacks and flatware. Pop in next door for more Viet paintings at Ngan Pho Gallery / #82 / 828 9484 / nganphogallery.net, then scoot off to Hanoi Moment at #101 / 3928 7170 / hanoimoment.vn / for delicate ceramics. The ubiquitous Khaisilk shop is at #113 / 3928 9883 / khai silkcorp.com, but Kenly Silk at #108 / 3826 7236 / kenlysilk.com / is a good alternative. Now, take a deep breath and brave the crossroads onto Hang Bong. First up at #40b is the mother lode of Vietnamese art Apricot Gallery / 3828 8965 / apricotgallery.com.vn / with high prices but good selections. You can either zip on a bike up to the jewel Mai Gallery at #113 / 3938 0568 / maigallery-vietnam.com, or if you’ve been hit with art fatigue, double back to the crossroads and turn right into Hang Trong, in which case... Start on the corner of Hang Gai and Hang Trong at #6 Thuong Gia II / 3938 1268 / sister stores at #7 & #24 / for a huge range of lacquer, some of which are vulgar beyond words, but you can still find some smart dinner and flatware. Don’t faff too long though, because you’ll want to hotfoot it up to Marie Linh’s boutique at #38 / 938 0436 / marie-linh.com / good for classic linens, shift dresses, tailoring, ethnic jewellery and couture gowns. Her second boutique is just down the road at #74 / 3928 6309, but before you get there, Kana at #41 / 3928 6208 / kana.com.vn / has trad and Asian-y cotton and silk tops, frocks, bags and shoes, and The Warehouse / #59 / 3928 7666 / warehouse-asia.com / has some of the best wine selections in Hanoi, so why not pick up a bottle or two for later? Now, shoot back to #42 for a well-deserved pamper sesh at QT Anam Spa (see Spa) after which you’ll probably be hungry enough to eat your own children. Instead, why not walk along to the T-junction for the picturesque Nha Tho (see next itinerary), where you will find Moca #16 / 3825 6334 / for a caff break, or go ahead and swig sangrias at La Salsa (see Bars). Nice one, Nguyen!