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Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake: A must-visit destination for your Hanoi itinerary in 2023

14/08/2023 1288 views

Whether you have just arrived in Hanoi for the first time or this is the second or third time you came here, you should still visit Hoan Kiem Lake in downtown Hanoi to feel the spirit of the capital of Vietnam.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is likened to a gem in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam (Source: Collected)

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has many beautiful sightseeing spots. Among which, Hoan Kiem Lake is often likened to a gem in the heart of the city. It bears the spirit of the capital with various historical relic sites, recreation centres, shops, and restaurants. Coming here, you can also learn more about the life of the local residents.

1. Where is Hoan Kiem Lake? What to know about its legend?

Hoan Kiem Lake is a natural freshwater lake in the middle of Hanoi. Situated in Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, the lake used to be named Luc Thuy Lake (literal: Green Water Lake) due to the colour of the water. It had another name which was Thuy Quan Lake (literal: Naval Lake), as the lake was used for naval drills. In the 15th century, the lake’s name was changed into Hoan Kiem (Sword Lake), as it was associated with the Hoan Kiem Lake legend about King Le Thai To (1428-1433) returning a magic sword to a holy turtle.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is like a natural oasis in the middle of the city (Source: Collected)

The lake is where some Vietnamese ancient streets (including Hang Dao, Luong Van Can, Hang Ngang streets) meet with those built by the French during the colonial period (such as Trang Thi, Dinh Tien Hoang, Ba Trieu, and Hang Bai streets). Here, visitors can walk around the lake, stop by historical sites, and learn about the cultural features of the surrounding Old Quarter.

2. Things to do in your trip to Hoan Kiem Lake Vietnam

The lake has been attracting a large number of both locals and tourists. Below are some prominent activities that you should not miss out on:

2.1. Visit Turtle Tower – the symbol of Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake Turtle Tower has witnessed many ups and downs of the city (Source: Collected)

The Turtle Tower was built between 1884 and 1886 on an islet in the middle of the lake. The tower has a rectangular structure and three storeys, with each upper storey bigger than the one directly below it.

2.2. Take photos at Red Bridge Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

Red Bridge Hoan Kiem Lake looks striking over the background of green water (Source: Collected)

The Red Bridge leading to Ngoc Son Temple has been a favourite spot for photo shooting. This red wooden bridge looks very impressive over the green water of the lake. The bridge was built in 1865.

2.3. Explore the Buddhist architecture of Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple is a popular religious destination at Hoan Kiem Lake. The temple is situated on a small islet on the lake. According to the steles found at the site, the temple was built in 1841 and renovated in 1865.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Ngoc Son Temple is a must-visit place on your Hoan Kiem Lake map of tourism (Source: Collected)

The temple worships Van Xuong De Quan, a deity that brings happiness and wealth for scholars. It also commemorates General Tran Hung Dao (1231-1300), who chased away northern invaders two times in 1285 and 1288.

Ngoc Son temple is the gathering spot of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Here, there are various unique architectural works that date back a long time ago, such as the Pen Tower with its Ink Tray Foundation.

2.4. Learn history at the Temple of King Le Thai To

The Temple of King Le Thai To is situated to the west of the lake. Here, there is a statue of the King standing on a big platform, which holds a sword pointing to the lake. As one of the oldest monuments in Hanoi, this 1.2-metre-tall bronze statue and the surrounding complex was built in 1894 by a leader of the northern region named Hoang Cao Khai (1850-1933). The statue is a reminder of the legend about the King returning the magic sword to the holy turtle, which symbolises the wish for peace of the whole nation.

Hoan Kiem Lake

The small statue represents a wish for peace of the Vietnamese people (Source: Collected)

2.5. Immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance of the walking street

On weekends, the pedestrian-only zone around the lake attracts many locals and tourists alike. It is open from 6 pm on Friday until the end of Sunday. The zone consists of most of the old streets around the lake. If you don’t know what to do in Hanoi on the weekend, it is a good idea to come take a walk here, play folk games, enjoy art performances, buy some souvenirs, and try some Trang Tien ice-cream.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street at weekend is very entertaining (Source: Collected)

2.6. Enjoy the special taste of Trang Tien ice cream

The icIce cream sold at No. 35, Trang Tien Street has been a favourite specialty for the local people for many years. This once State-owned brand was established in 1958, together with other restaurants nearby such as Bo De Ga and Thuy Ta. The sweet and tasty ice-cream has been etched into the memory of many Hanoi’s people. Now, there are more flavours available, including vanilla, chocolate, milk & coconut, green rice, green tea, strawberry, durian, and taro.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Try Trang Tien ice-cream to understand why the people of Hanoi love it (Source: Collected)

2.7. Shop around souvenir stores near Hoan Kiem Lake

You can shop around the pedestrian-only zone, or in Dong Xuan Market, Hang Dao Street, Hang Ngang Street, and Dinh Le Street. Everything is available here, from books, souvenirs, clothes, food to accessories.

In addition to the above attractions, there are some other well-known destinations near the lake, such as Hanoi Opera House, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, the Old Quarter, and St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

Just a few-minute drive away from Hoan Kiem Lake, VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium Times City in Vincom Mega Mall Times City, No. 458, Minh Khai Street offer lots of fun to families with small children.

At Vinpearl Aquarium, children will have the opportunity to explore the ocean world at the most modern aquarium systems in Vietnam. In a total area of ​​​​nearly 4,000 square meters, Vinpearl Aquarium is home to more than 30,000 sea creatures from around the world.

On the other hand, VinKE creates a “play and learn” space for children to experience their dream career, learn about their favorite field, and become more confident with the world around them. It focuses on many career-orientation games, such as Fire Department, Traffic Police, Fashion Star, Kid Chef, Auto Repair Workshop, etc.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Enjoy the interesting games at VinKE and discover the ocean world at Vinpearl Aquarium

>>> Book tickets of VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium to save your time and money!

3. How to get to Hoan Kiem Lake for the best convenience?

It is very easy to travel to the lake as it is situated in downtown Hanoi. You can choose either to go:

  • By bus: There are many buses that stop at Hoan Kiem Lake, which are the cheapest means of transportation. Specifically: buses number 4, 8, 9, 11, 18, 23, 31, 34, 36, and 40.
  • By hop-on-hop-off bus: There are also some double-deck open-roof buses passing by the lake and various popular sightseeing spots nearby.
  • By taxi: Taking a taxi to the lake is simple. Just remember to choose a reliable taxi brand, such as Mai Linh Taxi, Taxi Group, or G7 Taxi, etc.
  • By cyclo: This is a wonderful choice if you want to go around the lake at a leisurely pace and watch the world go round.
Hoan Kiem Lake

Taking a cyclo around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi will be a worthwhile experience (Source: Collected)

In Hanoi, every road leads to Hoan Kiem Lake. Here, you can contemplate the city’s many sightseeing spots, enjoy the local food, buy souvenirs, and learn about the local culture. From the lake, you can easily reach other tourist destinations such as the Old Quarter, Dong Xuan Market, various pagodas and temples. Hopefully, the above suggestions will help you well prepare for your trip to the thousand-year-old capital of Vietnam.

>>> Don’t forget to book tickets of VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium to have more fun on your trip to Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi!

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