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In search of an authentic aura, Julie Vola searched high and low for Hanoi’s fabled secondhand furniture sellers, and soon found a whole stockpile of it


Are you like me? Do you spend hours on Pinterest looking at beautiful refurbishing work by people lucky enough to live close by to Salvation Army stores or flea markets or garage sales? Do you wish you could do the same but have lost hope to find such places in Hanoi?


After having my hopes crushed by repeated searching, I had very little hope of finding old furniture. For a long time I put my desire to give a second life to an old nightstand to the side.


Second Chances



My new housemate is just like me — except with a fixation on finding the perfect old desk to repair. So we asked around. Like an urban legend, many people had heard of a place where it was probably possible to find secondhand furniture, but the location was always elusively somewhere on the other side of the river. Then a friend told me she knew where it was and sent me the Facebook link. Bingo!


The shop is on the other side of the river indeed, and you have to cross the Thang Long Bridge to reach it. Its name: Cho Do Cu Thuong Thuong.


It’s a Salvation Army type of shop, where furniture from out-of-business restaurants, hotels or even schools come to die — or find a new life. It’s a labyrinth, easy to get lost in. The alleys are cluttered and furniture that’s fallen down blocks the aisles, sometimes making it impossible to reach a piece you’d seen from afar. It’s mainly full of crap, but depending on what you are looking for, a couple hours in the dusty and sweaty air might turn up a rare pearl.


Where It All Ends Up



After investigating that first shop, more information was given to me about another shop, much closer to town, just next to the entrance to Cong Vien Nuoc, the water park on West Lake. The shop seems smaller — though I have been assured it’s three times bigger than the other one. There is a girl who speaks good English there and the place looks less of a mess.


If you are a DIY kind of person and are looking for a single piece to fill your Pinterestly desire to renovate a nightstand like me, or are just in search of some bamboo furniture, an oven, some stuff for your kitchen or a new chair, you might find a gem in this Hanoi graveyard.


Cho Do Cu Thuong Thuong is on May Len Cau Thang Long, just over Thang Long Bridge and to the right. For more information and screenshots of new pieces, check

Julie Vola

Julie Vola was born and raised in Marseille, South of France. One fine day she decided to quit her job to travel for three months in Vietnam. She arrived in Hanoi… and as happens all too frequently, never left. Now a staff photographer at Word Vietnam, she has also discovered she can write.

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