If you are going to visit Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam, you must see Hoan Kiem lake. It is a combination of modernity and history which has attracted thousands of tourists all over the world. Hoan Kiem is considered to be the heart of Ha Noi as its legendary spot and reputation. That explains why it is the most outstanding among many other lakes in Vietnam.
The legend of Hoan Kiem lake
Hoan Kiem lake has a fascinating history. When Emperor Le Loi visited his friend, he saw a shining metal bar which was caught by the friend in one of his attempts for fish. The King then asked his friend for the bar, moulded it into a sword. In 1428, Le Loi obtained the magical sword to fight against Chinese oppressors and won the battle.
After the successful battle and peace prevailed, Emperor Le Loi visited the Thuy Quan (now Hoan Kiem) lake. He was boating when a gigantic turtle rising above water and then talked to him. The turtle explained that the sword belonged to his master, the Dragon King, and it was the time for Le Loi to return the sword to the King. Le Loi threw the sword to the lake without hesitation, the turtle took it and dove down the water. The lake was then named Hoan Kiem lake, meaning “Lake of the Returned Sword”.
Places to see around Hoan Kiem lake
Hoan Kiem lake is not only famous for its own history, but also other places around it.
Ngoc Son Temple – beautiful temple in the middle of Hanoi
Ngoc Son Temple was built on the island called Jade Island, in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao. To get to the temple, you need to walk across the wooden red The Huc Bridge. This bridge has the classic design from the old days. The temple opens at 8:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm every day, is one of the most peaceful places in Hanoi City.
Turtle Tower – reminder of the history
Hoan Kiem lake is a very popular place for locals and tourists. It’s a perfect area for exercise in the morning and for relaxing in the afternoon. People come there to sit and observe the Hanoian life. You can also see the Turtle Tower which lies on an island in the middle of the lake. There was one enormous turtle living in the water that was thought to be the one Le Loi met in 1428. Sadly, the turtle was found dead in early 2016 and was embalmed then put on display at Vietnam’s National Museum of Natural History.
Old Quarter – the most fun place for young people
Hoan Kiem Lake is only minutes away from the Old Quarter where you can find the oldest and wealthiest part of Hanoi. It is said that you can find everything within 36 streets including food, playgrounds, bars, restaurants, household items, etc… Nowadays, Old Quarter is more like a place for young people and tourists, especially Ta Hien – the beer street. It is the most fun to come there, have a few beers while chatting with friends and listening to live music.
It can’t be denied that Hanoi has many famous tourist attractions, however, Hoan Kiem lake is the best one among them.