If you are in the mood for a different stroll in Hanoi old quarter, you can go to walk on Đinh Lễ street, better known in Hanoi as the “book street”.
It is located south of the Hoàn Kiếm lake and is open all day from 8:30 in the morning until 6pm. Probably the best time to go would be at the end of the afternoon before twilight, when the light is golden and when passers-by are busy walking around the area and entering book shops. At that time, the activity in Đinh Lễ is in full swing and gives great opportunity to take pictures.
The first bookstore “Nhà sách Mão” (“Mão bookstore”) opened here in this street in early 1990’s. Located on the 2nd floor of the house #5 on the street, it is kind of hidden in a narrow alley. Mr Lê Luy is the owner and the shop is named after his wife’s name, Mrs Pham Thi Mão. They both worked in the publishing industry before and they opened their first shop when they got retired. The growing popularity of their shop soon attracted others to set up in the street and start selling books as well. Later in the early 2000’s, the street got known as the “book street” and became quite famous. Mr Lê Luy is now in his eighties and remains on his own as his wife Mão passed away last year. He still wants to keep his business in memory of her and as long as his health will allow him to do so.
Entering his shop makes you feel being in an “Ali Baba’s cave” with book shelves everywhere.
In the book stores, people of all ages walk around, families with children, students, couples, young adults as well as older people. They all have a look at the books, browsing them, sometimes sitting to read bits and pieces, finally buying them or not. It is quite a lively place.
The area is now closed to vehicles during the week-end so you should park your bike somewhere not far and come by foot to Đinh Lễ.
If you join our mystery adventure tour in Hanoi, you would visit “Mão bookstore” as it is on the itinerary of our scripted tour.