Hanoi is the center of Vietnam's art universe, and there are hundreds of local artists producing quality work.
Galleries fall into two major types, those offering "something for everyone," and those who view their collections from a curatorial perspective, carefully choosing what they sell.
The latter are the best, their owners knowledgeable.
In particular, we recommend having a look at Suzanne Lecht's Art Vietnam, Nguyen Hoang Lien's New Gallery, and Duong Thu Hang's Hanoi Studio galleries.
Hanoi has two areas with large concentrations of galleries: Trang Tien Street, west of the Opera House; and galleries near the intersection of Hang Gai Street and To Tich Streets, one block away from the northwest corner of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Suzanne Lecht's lifelong pilgrimage through the world of art and design finally brought her to Hanoi in 1992, and she began her gallery in November of 2002.
Many consider her the doyenne of Hanoi's gallery owners.
Some of the finest artists in Vietnam are shown in her gallery, located in a beautiful old house.
She specializes in traditional and emerging Vietnamese artists, working in both representational and abstract forms.
In 2005, she took a show to London, and now has a gallery in Austin Texas as well.
Their two nearby locations offer a smorgasbord of contemporary artists. Worth a look-see.
Other galleries in the Hang Gai Street area
Lots to choose from here.
In addition to those listed below, galleries are prominent on Hong Hom and Hang Trong streets as they cross Hang Gai Street, west of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Recommended: Hanoi Gallery
110 Hang Bac Street. Tel: (04) 926-1064.
GPS: N21°02.048' E105°51.077'
This shop specializes in original propaganda posters from the AmeriViet War to recent times.
They are wonderful examples of the poster art of Vietnam, and the shop owners have provided translations.
Highly recommended, even if only for a browse.
30 Hang Bong Street. Tel: (04) 826-1387.
Run by a Russian expat and her Vietnamese artist husband, this tiny gallery exhibits the work of Vu Tan Dan and his friends.
This extensive gallery occupies four floors of a nice old building.
Gallery staff is helpful without being overbearing, and the shop has a good selection of lacquer paintings by Bui Huu Hung and Dinh Quan, and other contemporary artists.
As you look out the front door of Thang Long Gallery, you'll see the entrance to To Tich Street.
Several meters down To Tich on the left, you'll see Dragon Gallery, owned by the Thang Long folks (who also own the well-known Apricot Gallery, in the same neighborhood), with other paintings by the same artists.
We found a lacquer painting by Trinh Quoc Chien, infused with eggshells, of a tribesman playing the musical instrument called the khaen, to be compelling.
The family owning the Thang Long and Dragon galleries also own the nearby Apricot and Green Palm galleries.
As you look out the front door of Thang Long Gallery, turn to your right, and continue around the block.
Immediately facing the water fountain, you'll find Long Van, a nice gallery that also sells decent fashions and housewares.
We were struck by the abstract lacquer paintings of Hoang Thanh Vinh Phong.
Manager Thu is friendly and non-invasive.
In the Museum district
Recommended: National Museum of Fine Arts, Art Sale Room
66 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. Tel: (04) 843-8505. Open 8:30 am - 5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
GPS: N21°01.816' E105°50.215'
Tucked away in the upper left corner of the museum, Vuong Hoa Ban has been selling fine arts from the museum shop since 1994.
Practically her whole family is engaged in the arts, and she speaks English well.
Ban sells everything from lacquer paintings, to woodcuts, to sculpture, and has some top quality pieces.