Going with the traffic Quan Thanh street runs from the top of Hanoi’s old quarter all the way across to the south of West Lake. It takes its name from the famous Quan Thanh temple but originally this street was established by the French colonial forces and was known as Route du Grand Bouddha (Great Buddha street). Once a t
ram ran down the street transporting passengers from Hoan Kiem Lake or Dong Xuan Market all the way to Buoi Market on the southwest of West Lake.
Today the street is a typically busy thoroughfare where both the modern and the ancient rub shoulders – you’ll see temples and French villas next to office blocks and high-end fashion shops. You will also find our office as Vietnam Investment Review – Dau Tu recently relocated from 175 Nguyen Thai Hoc to 47 Quan Thanh and yes, we’re very proud of our new prestigious address!
Every temple (den) in Vietnam is dedicated to a particular saint, deity or Vietnamese hero. The aforementioned Quan Thanh temple honours one of the four guardian saints of Hanoi (or Thang Long as the capital was originally known), Tran Vu, so the temple is sometimes also referred to as Den Tran Vu.
Tran Vu is a legendary or semi-mythical figure. According to legend he was a saint who assisted An Duong Vuong, who ruled over Au Lac from 257 to 207BC after defeating the state of Van Lang and uniting the two tribes Au Viet and Lac Viet. Tran Vu helped the king by banishing a ghostly spirit during the construction of Co Loa Citadel. Tran Vu also surfaces in Chinese legends as a saint who helped safeguard the northern border.
Quan Thanh temple was built during the reign of King Ly Thai To (1010-1028). The temple has a majestic three-door entrance and a large bell tower. In the 18th century, the temple was renovated and the statue of Tran Vu was cast in bronze. The four-tonne statue is considered a masterpiece of bronze casting and is well worth checking out.
Like so many other relics and sacred sites in the capital city the temple is currently being restored in time for the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long- Hanoi.
The house of literature
The tile-roofed villa at 80 Quan Thanh street was once the official base of the writer’s group called Tu luc van doan, which literally translates as the “Self-Reliance Literary Group”. Established by the Vietnamese writer Nhat Linh with some fellow authors in 1933 this literature group pretty much invented modern Vietnamese literature.
The group disbanded in 1942 and today you won’t find a museum or even a plaque outside denoting the villa’s proud literary past. The house has been surrounded by a number of cheap modern structures. Inside the villa has been divided up and is home to a number of families – close to 50 people live inside.
Although there’s nothing to see from time to time literary students or overseas Vietnamese come to have a look at the old villa. Sadly, they can do little but stand outside and imagine what might have passed indoors during a glorious period of Vietnamese literature.
Quan Thanh street is now home to a host of fashion shops. Lare Boss Fashion at 138 Quan Thanh is well known for stocking Men’s fashion with brands such as Pabini from Italy. You will also find a number of stylish accessories such as sunglasses or belts as well as perfumes and aftershave. At 118 Quan Thanh street, Alcado stocks excellent Italian style office wear for women. Alcado is well regarded for their emphasis on smart and charming designs.
Other recommended shops include Legend Boutique at 64, Jojo Max at 112 and Phan Nguyen Collection at 70, where you can find ZARA designs for both men and women. Quan Thanh park
On the east side of Quan Thanh street you will find Quan Thanh Park, one of the few open spaces in this part of town. The park is a nice shaded spot to take a load off while walking or driving around. There are also a number of decent cafes opposite the west side of the park where you can recharge the batteries with a “ca phe sua” (coffee with sweet milk).
Located in a French-designed villa at 95 Quan Thanh street, Seasons of Hanoi Restaurant was established back in 1995. The interior is a charming blend of classical and modern designs with Vietnamese antiques, stylish furnishings and Bat Trang ceramics. The cuisine is Vietnamese with classics such as spring rolls and pho noodle soup done exquisitely well. Recommended by Qantas, Thai Airways and many more famous travel companies, Seasons of Hanoi does a roaring trade with tourists as well as locals looking for great local food in an atmospheric setting.
Cau do Restaurant at 168 Quan Thanh street is also in an old French style villa. With green areca-nut trees and lacquer vases the restaurant is an invitation into the heart and soul of Vietnam. Its splendid interior, great food and wonderful service make this a highly relaxing and enjoyable spot for dinner.
If you’re staying in the neighbourhood, or looking to recommend a hotel for a business client or family friend, you could try the Star View Hotel at 120 Quan Thanh. Recently refurbished and renamed (formerly it was Sunny Hotel Hanoi), the three-star Star View Hotel offers highly professional service in a central location. There are 52 well-appointed rooms equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, internet access, refrigerator and a private bathroom.
Zen Hotel at 43 Quan Thanh is also a good choice with a stylish and modern interior in a classic tube style house. The combination of French colonial period and Asian designs works wonderfully well and certainly evokes Hanoi’s long history. The hotel offers well-decorated and high
standard rooms with a choice of VIP, Deluxe or Standard rooms.