Hoan Kiem Lake is surrounded by streets in Hanoi Old Quarters including Le Thai To street and Dinh Tien Hoang street in the east, and Hang Khay street in the south.
: 12 ha
: 700 m
: 1.75 km
: 1.2 m
: 2 m (6.6 ft)
The area is best from Fridays to Sundays: nearby traffic is banned between 7pm and midnight and a public-square, funfair vibe takes over.
Every morning at around 6am local residents practise tai chi on the shore. Sunset is a lovely time to explore the lake too, and can make for some sublime photographs as the sun sets.
Legend tells that the Dragon King sent Emperor Le Thai To ( or Le Loi ) a magical sword, which he used to fight against Chinese colonization and got his distinguished victory. One year after the war, when he were sitting on the boat on Luc Thuy Lake (Ta Vong Lake), a Golden Turtle God surfaced and asked him to return the magic sword to the Dragon King (in Vietnamese, Long Vuong). Le Loi gave the sword for the Turtle. The Turtle, as quickly as possible, received the sword and dived into the depths of this lake to restore the sword to its original owners. Being faithful and inspired, the locals name the lake after the highlighted milestone of Vietnam history - “Ho Hoan Kiem”, which means “Lake of the Restored Sword”
What to See
1. Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son temple - Hoan Kiem Lake
Ngoc Son temple – a splendid symbol of the Buddhist architecture
Located in the center of the lake, you can easily find the Ngoc Son temple by looking from any side of the lake. The name of the temple means “Temple of the Jade Mountain.”
Built in 18th century in the Jade Island, it is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a war hero who defeated 300,000 Mongolian soldiers invading Vietnam in the 13th century. In the temple, you can find the alters, some artifacts and a 250 kg preserved specimen of a giant turtle.
2. The Huc Bridge
The Huc Bridge - Hoan Kiem Lake
The flag-lined bright red The Huc Bridge
The bridge is a beautiful construction which was built to connect the Ngoc Son Temple and the lake bank. It was constructed by fine wood and stand out by its bright red color.
The Huc Bridge is a famous tourist attraction in Hanoi, a symbol of the Buddhist architecture and well-known as “the bridge where light is absorbed.” Visitors can feel its different elegant beauty and sophisticated architecture at any time of the day.
3. Turtle Tower
Turtle tower - Hoan Kiem Lake
Turtle Tower – a significant landmark of Hoan Kiem lake
Turtle tower is a significant landmark in the center of Hoan Kiem lake. Standing for almost 150 years, it used to be a resting place when the King went fishing and now the pride of the people of Hanoi.
During the French occupation, the revolutionary flag of Vietnam was hung on the top of the tower which always reminded the Vietnamese people to rise up and fight against the invaders. Though not built in a specific type of Vietnamese style, it is the symbol of the patriotism and also the unity of the Vietnamese.