• 7 Interesting Facts About The Hoan Kiem Lake

    Le CongSeptember 7, 2023

    Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular tourist destination in Hanoi. It serves as the natural border between the French Quarter to the south and the Old Quarter to the north. With over 13,000 reviews on TripAdvisor and 8,000 reviews on Google Maps, it offers plenty of things to do and many local restaurants and cafes to choose from.

    Hoa Phong Tower back in the day
    Hoa Phong Tower in 2023

    The lake’s history dates back to the mid-15th century when Emperor Le Loi received a magical sword called Thuan Thien (Heaven’s Will) from the gods. He used this sword to drive the Ming Chinese from Vietnam and bring independence to the Vietnamese people. After the war, a giant golden turtle (Kim Quy) grabbed the sword and disappeared into the depths of the lake to restore it to its divine owners. This inspired the name Ho Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword). The lake was previously called Green Lake (Luc Thuy Lake in Vietnamese) due to its green color all year round.

    7 interesting facts about this beautiful lake.

    1. The name Hoan Kiem means “returned sword” and refers to the legend of Emperor Le Loi returning his magical sword to a turtle in the lake after defeating his enemies. The statue of King Le Loi can still be seen at the Nam Huong communal house near Hoan Kiem Lake.

    2. The area is best visited from Friday night to Sunday, as traffic is blocked between 7 p.m. and midnight, and there are many music festivals, dance clubs, art performances, and exhibitions happening.

    Hoan Kiem Lake at night (2023)

    3. Local elders practice exercise and run on the shore every morning and afternoon, usually around 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

    4. The iconic Turtle Tower is located on a small island in the lake. The Statue of Liberty used to be on top of the Turtle Tower.

    The Statue of Liberty on top of the Turtle Tower

    5. The lake is surrounded by many important historical and cultural sites, such as the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, the Hanoi Opera House, and the Vietnam National Museum of History.

    6. There is a small island in the middle of the lake called Jade Island, which is home to the Ngoc Son Temple. To reach the island, visitors must cross the iconic red Huc Bridge, which is a popular spot for photos.

    7. Legend has it that there is a giant turtle living in the lake, known as the Hoan Kiem Turtle. This turtle is considered a symbol of good luck and longevity.

    In the evenings, the lake comes to life with colorful lights and music. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Hanoi.

    Things To Do

    Visiting a Cafe

    The area boasts of several cafes that offer a unique experience to visitors. Among these cafes is Dinh Cafe, which is located at 13 Dinh Tien Hoang and is widely known for its Hanoi Egg coffee. This special drink is made with egg yolks, sugar, and condensed milk, which makes it creamy and sweet. In addition to the Hanoi Egg coffee, Dinh Cafe also offers a variety of other coffee blends, each with its distinct flavor and aroma.

    Visit Note Cafe near Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square for a unique and artistic atmosphere where guests can write and stick colorful notes on the walls. The cafe also serves a variety of coffee, snacks, and meals, and has a cozy seating area for a relaxing and peaceful experience.

    → Read more: Top 7 BEST coffee shops in Hanoi

    Try the Thuy Ta ice cream

    One of the most popular activities for locals and students is to indulge in the local ice cream. If you’re looking for something special, you can try Trang Tien ice cream, located on Trang Tien Street. Each ice cream costs around 15,000 VND and comes in a variety of flavors including chocolate, matcha, lemon, and beans, so you can choose your favorite.

    >>> Check out: A Free & Self-guided Hanoi French Quarter Tour 2023

    Visit an Art Gallery

    There are numerous art galleries situated around this area, boasting a wide variety of artwork that is sure to please all tastes and preferences. One of the most popular and highly recommended places to stroll through is Hang Gai Street, where visitors can take in the vibrant atmosphere and admire the many different galleries and exhibitions on offer. For those looking to experience the local arts scene in a more relaxed and serene setting, Trang Tien Street is the perfect destination. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture and appreciate the beauty of the art in a peaceful and tranquil environment.

    Join a walking tour

    It’s best to have an expert show you around. Join our Walking Experience in the Hanoi French Quarter and discover the historical and interesting stories about the lake and buildings in the area.

    Local Tips

    • Toilets are available for a fee of 5,000 VND.
    • Free water is available from drinkable water poles for direct consumption. Please note that tap water in Vietnam should not be consumed.

    How to get to the Hoan Kiem Lake

    • The best way to reach the lake from the Old Quarter and French Quarter is by walking along the main road. It should take approximately 5-10 minutes to get there.
    • If you are staying in the West Lake area, you can use Grab taxi (or the Vietnamese apps called Be, Xanh SM, or Go Jek) to reach the lake, which will take about 20 minutes by car.

    Why is Hoan Kiem Lake famous?

    Hoan Kiem Lake is surrounded by historical monuments. A thousand years ago, this place was a bustling urban area of the Thang Long Capital. The body of water became famous due to its association with the legend of King Le Loi, who received a holy sword from the Golden Turtle Genie to defeat invaders.

    What is the story of Hoan Kiem Lake?

    Once, the King Le Loi was boating on the lake when a turtle appeared and asked for the sword that the Sea God had lent him. The King returned the sword, and the turtle disappeared under the water. As a result, Luc Thuy Lake (Green lake) was renamed Hoan Kiem Lake.

    Can you walk around Hoan Kiem Lake?

    Hoan Kiem Lake is one of Hanoi’s most popular walking spots.

    is Hoan Kiem Lake kid-friendly?

    Visit the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi for a serene and peaceful environment that’s perfect for families with kids. The lake is located in the heart of the city and offers plenty of space for kids to run around and take a stroll.


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