Hoan Kiem Lake is located in the heart of Hanoi city. This famous destination attracts a large number of local people and tourists to visit, enjoy the beautiful natural scenery and combine entertainment and dining.

Information about Hoan Kiem Lake

Previously, in feudal times, Hoan Kiem Lake was variously named Luc Thuy Lake (Vietnamese: hồ Lục Thủy, means Green Water Lake, aptly named for the water’s color) or Thuy Quan Lake (Vietnamese: hồ Thủy Quân, means Mariner’s Lake). At the end of the 16th century, Lord Trinh divided the lake into two parts, called Ta Vong lake and Huu Vong lake. However, when the French colonialists invaded Vietnam in 1884, Huu Vong Lake was filled in to expand the capital, so only Ta Vong Lake remained, Hoan Kiem Lake today.

Hoan Kiem Lake

The name Hoan Kiem Lake appeared in the early 15th century, related to the legend about the story of Emperor Le Loi and the Golden Turtle God. According to legend, Emperor Le Loi was given a magic sword, the Heaven’s Will, from Dragon King to against Ming China. After defeating his enemy, the Emperor was out boating on the lake. Suddenly, Golden Turtle God surfaced, prompting Emperor Le Loi to return the Heaven’s Will and thank the divine turtle for its help. The Golden Turtle God took it back and disappeared into the depths of the lake. The Emperor renamed the lake to commemorate this even from Luc Thuy Lake to Hoan Kiem or Guom Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Hoàn Kiếm means Returned Sword Lake, and Hồ Gươm means Sword Lake). 

Return Sword

Hoan Kiem Lake is 12 hectares wide, 700m long, 200m wide, and 1 – 1.4m deep; The lake is surrounded by 3 streets: Hang Khay, Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Thai To. Due to its extremely prime location with many famous tourist attractions around, Hoan Kiem Lake attracts many tourists and local people to visit every day.

Hoan Kiem turtle

Many tourists visiting Hoan Kiem Lake are curious about the turtles that once lived here. In fact, the Hoan Kiem turtle is also known by the scientific name Rafetus Leloii. According to many records, Hoan Kiem Lake turtle has 4 different individuals, including one dead individual kept in Ngoc Son temple, another individual kept in Hanoi Museum, one individual killed in 1962 – 1963 when crawling to Chi Linh flower garden. By around 2011, there was only one surviving individual of the Hoan Kiem turtle. While living in the lake, turtles are often picked up to treat injuries and are called “Cụ Rùa”, meaning “great grandfather turtle”. By 2016, the last turtle at Hoan Kiem Lake was reported dead.

Hoan Kiem Turtle

To be able to admire the Hoan Kiem Lake turtles with your own eyes, you can schedule a trip to Ngoc Son Temple – a sacred temple in the middle of the lake to visit and explore. Here, specimens of individual turtles are displayed in colors similar to when they were alive, giving you the most realistic view of this animal.

Things to do around Hoan Kiem Lake

When you come to Hoan Kiem Lake, you definitely have to walk around and explore, right? In addition to the unique natural landscape, the Hoan Kiem Lake area also has many famous monuments and buildings, bringing you many diverse experiences when visiting:

Admire the Turtle Tower

Turtle Tower is an ancient structure located on Turtle islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. It was built from 1884 – 1886. From afar you can see that the tower has a three-storey rectangular structure, with the East – West sides of the tower having 3 rolling doors, the South – North sides having 2 pointed rolling doors. The tops of the 1st and 2nd floors have additional railings with 4 blades curving towards the top.

Turtle tower

This is a project with a lot of historical significance and is a lasting vestige of time. Coming to Turtle Tower, you will enjoy the peace and gentleness in the heart of Hanoi. The time-stained image of the Turtle Tower has become a symbol of Hanoi, becoming a beauty in many romantic paintings of the Capital.

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple is a famous spiritual tourist destination, located on Ngoc islet at Hoan Kiem Lake. The building was built in 1841 and is a place to worship Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in defeating the Mongol invasions of Vietnam thrice; the classic scholar Wenchang; and Nguyen Van Sieu, a famous writer and official who undertook repairs of the temple in 1864. The temple is also a convergence of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

Ngoc Son Temple

Coming to Ngoc Son Temple, visitors can learn about the unique architecture – of the But Tower – Nghiem Tower. These two works symbolize the studious tradition of the Vietnamese people as well as pride in the country’s intelligence and culture.

But Tower

This is not only a famous tourist attraction but also a place containing many traditional cultural and historical values ​​of the Capital. In particular, you can choose the time to visit the temple during holidays and Tet to immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere, pray for fortune, and peace for yourself and your family.

The Huc Bridge

The Huc Bridge is a special highlight amid the lush green scenery of Hoan Kiem Lake. The bridge connecting from the lake shore to Ngoc Son temple is painted vermillion red and has a soft curved design like a soft silk strip. Although it is a famous check-in point, few people know that The Huc Bridge also has a very special meaning.

The Huc Bridge

The bridge was built in the direction of the rising sun with the meaning of welcoming good oxygen and being a place where light condenses. The colors of the bridge represent life, joy and happiness. Besides, the name “The Huc” is also compared to “bridge of the Sun God”.

Ba Kieu Temple

Ba Kieu Temple was built during the reign of Le Trung Hung and is currently divided into 2 parts; one is located in the Northeast of Hoan Kiem Lake and another one is the place to worship the Lady Lieu Hanh and two servants: Que Hoa and Quynh Hoa.

Ba Kieu Temple

With many cultural and spiritual values, Ba Kieu Temple has become a place that attracts a large number of people and tourists from all over to visit and learn about beliefs and cultural heritage. You can visit the capital in the third lunar month every year to participate in the Ba Kieu temple festival – this activity is to honor the Lady Ba Kieu, praying for luck and peace for everyone.

Address: 59 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District.

Hoa Phong Tower

Hoa Phong Tower located close to the East bank of Hoan Kiem Lake is a rare ancient relic remaining of Bao An Pagoda after being destroyed by the French government to make a post office. Hoa Phong Tower is built in a square tower architectural style, consisting of 3 floors gradually getting smaller towards the top. The first floor has 4 arched doors facing 4 directions, symbolizing the connection to heaven, earth and the four directions. The 2nd and 3rd floors are decorated with stone statues facing the East.

Hoa Phong Tower

The tower has survived many ups and downs, witnessed the country’s upheavals and marked unique cultural, architectural and artistic values.

Temple of Emperor of Le Dynasty

The temple is located on the west bank of Hoan Kiem Lake, near Nam Huong communal house. The temple was built to commemorate Emperor Le Loi, the first king of the Le dynasty. The temple grounds have a statue of the Emperor standing on a high pillar, holding a sword in his hand as if preparing to hand it back to the magical turtle in the lake.

Temple of Emperor of Le Dynasty

This is one of the oldest monuments in the Capital and an important relic in the Hoan Kiem Lake scenic complex. Besides the unique architecture, the temple grounds also have many green trees and a flock of free-living pigeons, creating peace and relaxation for visitors.

Address: No. 16 Le Thai To, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District.

Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House is majestically located on August Revolution Square, right at the beginning of busy Trang Tien street, Hoan Kiem district. This prime central location helps the theater become an outstanding architectural highlight, attracting all eyes. Built in 1901 by the French, the theater bears the mark of classical French architecture. The highlight is the facade with a system of pillars, curved domes and sophisticated pattern details, expressing luxury and class. The inside of the theater is splendidly decorated with the main color red and delicate patterns. The spacious stage is equipped with modern sound and lighting systems, meeting the needs of diverse art performance programs.

Hanoi Opera House

Currently, this place is still a performance venue for many generations of artists. When walking at Hoan Kiem Lake, you can visit the Opera House to admire, take photos or enjoy art shows.

Ho Guom Walking Street

Different from the quiet look of historical sites, Hoan Kiem Lake walking street is a vibrant destination with a bustling atmosphere at night. The neighborhood sells a variety of products with a rich culinary world and many interesting activities and folk games. Therefore, this is a weekend entertainment destination chosen by many residents and tourists.

Ho Guom Walking Street

Walking around the walking street, you can stop at relics to freely check in, enjoy many specialties in the old town or sip delicious street coffee with friends. A small note that the walking street is only open on Saturday and Sunday every week, so you need to pay attention to arrange your schedule accordingly.

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter is an area of ​​36 streets located right in the center of the capital, surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake. This place is considered the heart of Hanoi, preserving long-standing traditional cultural values. Hanoi’s Old Quarter is famous for its ancient tube houses, built in the 19th and 20th centuries. These houses often have narrow, long, deep facades with curved tile roofs and small windows.

Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi’s old quarters are also a place for you to enjoy many delicious specialties of the capital, such as enjoying Hanoi’s specialties such as Pho Ha Noi, Hanoi-Style Grilled Pork and Vermicelli Noodles (Bun Cha)… Around the old quarter, there are many souvenir shops, where you can buy typical Hanoi gifts for friends and relatives.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater was established in 1956, and is the first water puppet theater in Vietnam. This is a great place for you to enjoy the Vietnamese folk art of water puppetry. Every day, the theater has about 6 performances with unique water puppet shows that are skillfully and elaborately choreographed.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

After more than 50 years of construction and development, up to now, the theater has brought to the audience thousands of plays with a variety of genres and forms. In particular, the theater always creates new things without fading the quintessence of Vietnamese culture, honoring the noble values ​​of water puppetry.

Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem District.

Dinh Le quarter

Dinh Le quarter is considered the “book paradise” of Hanoi, next to Hoan Kiem Lake. The area contains many bookstores, where you can easily find a variety of books from philosophy, history, culture, economics, social sciences to specialized books…

Dinh Le Quarter

This area is considered as the “intellectual paradise” of Hanoi, this is also the place where domestic and foreign authors meet, exchange, and talk about books.

Address: Dinh Le Street, Hoan Kiem District.

Discover countless attractive dining spots around Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is not only famous for its poetic beauty but also attracts for its rich and diverse culinary culture. Below are some suggestions for extremely attractive dining spots around Hoan Kiem Lake:

To Tich Street

To Tich Street has long been famous for its shops selling delicious and attractive pickled fruits and yogurt. Along this small street, you can easily find countless options for your favorite desserts.

In addition to pickled fruits and yogurt, To Tich street also has many other delicious sweet soup dishes such as Thai sweet soup, grapefruit sweet soup, durian sweet soup… Each sweet soup dish has its own unique flavor, bringing you interesting culinary experiences.

To Tich Sweet Soup

The prices of the dishes here are quite reasonable, suitable for the budget of students. Although the restaurant space is not too spacious, it is quite airy and clean. To Tich Street is the ideal place for you and your friends or relatives to enjoy delicious and cool desserts.

Trang Tien Ice Cream

When talking about Hoan Kiem Lake, no one knows about Trang Tien ice cream, the oldest and most famous ice cream brand in Hanoi.

Trang Tien ice cream

Located on bustling Trang Tien street, Trang Tien ice cream has become a cultural symbol of the capital, associated with the childhood of many generations of Hanoi people.

Pho Co Cafe Shop 11 Hang Gai

Located deep in a small alley on Hang Gai street, Pho Co 11 cafe gives you the feeling of being lost in another world, completely separate from the hustle and bustle of the old town. To get to the coffee shop, you have to go through small winding alleys and climb up old stairs.

Pho Co Cafe Shop 11 Hang Gai
From the elevated position of the coffee, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the romantic Hoan Kiem Lake and bustling ancient streets. This is the ideal spot for you to relax and enjoy the fresh air of Hanoi. Pho Co 11 cafe is famous for its unique egg coffee. The fatty taste of the egg yolk mixed with the slightly bitter taste of coffee creates an unforgettable flavor.

Thuy Ta Ice Cream

Thuy Ta ice cream is one of the most famous ice cream brands in Hanoi along with Trang Tien ice cream.

Thuy Ta ice cream

Established in 1954, Thuy Ta ice cream has become an indispensable part of the memories of Hanoi people and a favorite destination of tourists when visiting Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hanoi-Style Grilled Pork and Vermicelli Noodles (Bun Cha)

If you don’t have much time to travel but want to enjoy delicious bun cha in Hanoi, you can go to Cau Go street. There is a delicious bun cha restaurant located opposite Cau Go market alley that is often very crowded. The bun cha here is delicious with fragrant grilled meat pieces, served with vermicelli, raw vegetables and rich dipping sauce. Price is also very reasonable.

Bun Cha Hanoi

Above is reference information and experience visiting Hoan Kiem Lake. If you have the opportunity to come to explore Hanoi, don’t forget to spend a day to visit unique beauty of this place. The romantic Hoan Kiem Lake scenery, unique architectural works and rich culinary world will bring you the most memorable memories of the city

Source: collected by An

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