West Lake – A Popular Place For Recreation

West Lake is known as Hanoi’s largest freshwater Lake. It’s a massive body of water – it has a circumference of 17km – and there are plenty of historical places of interest, five-star hotels, stylish restaurants, cafes, and nightlife venues that are worth exploring along the shoreline.

Accessible within a 20 minutes walk from Hanoi Old Quarter. Many locals and travelers find this area an outstanding natural beauty with plenty of quiet spots in the green botanical gardens. Known locally as Ho Tay, the actual history of West Lake remains a mystery to this very day. However, folklore told that the Lake formed when a large Chinese buffalo mistakenly confused a pagoda temple bell with its mother’s call and ran fiercely into a small hollow and created a lake. West lake is also the perfect place to watch the sunset in Hanoi. To explore this exciting area, we recommend you to join our Hanoi Scooter Tour.

How To Get There – West Lake in Hanoi

  • By bus: 13, 33, 50, 70 ( Cost: 7.000 VND/ ticket)
  • From The Old Quarters:   
    • Taxi (11.500 VND – 17.500 VND/kilometer)
    • Motorbike (30 mins)

West Lake Hanoi Things To Do

Completely different from the center of Hanoi, visiting West Lake is a chance for tourists to join exciting activities while breathing the fresh air. 

Cycling around West Lake

By renting a bike (with a very cheap cost of 40,000 VND to 70,000 VND/ bike), you will have a great experience when cycling in the West Lake, exploring the full beauty of the Lake, and enjoying the cool fresh air here.

Photo: Cycling around the West Lake

Enjoy a date on a Duck Pedal Boat in West Lake.

If you want to have a private moment and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, Duck Pedal Boats on the West Lake is the ideal place for a date night by enjoying the peacefulness while you cruise across the Lake! Note the weather: the sun can quickly make the moment heat up to uncomfortable.

Photo: Duck Pedal Boats on the West Lake

Water sports activity in West Lake

West lake also has many water sports, so you can join energetic activities in West Lake. Kayaking on the Lake is the most popular activity here, with the price of renting a kayak ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 VND/ hour. 

Sightseeing in the West Lake

There is a speech that “Hanoi is the most beautiful in the evening,” and West lake is too. Moreover, its beauty also appears in the early morning and the late afternoon, all of which is the best time for you to come and relax by seeing the beautiful building on the other side of the Lake and the locals life along the Lake or take some pictures.

Photo: Hanoi is the most beautiful in the evening

Entertainment places in West Lake

Hanoi’s West Lake is a great place to relax and sip a cup of coffee in a coffee shop or a roadside restaurant. There are also many great pubs along West Lake, so you can have some cocktails and fun there.

Enjoying typical cuisine of West Lake area

Ho Tay ice cream is a must-try and typical dessert in this Lake. Unfortunately, this ice cream shop is always crowded so you must queue to buy ice cream.

Another street food you must try when coming here is the famous Shrimp cake. The unforgettable flavor of shrimp cake at floating restaurants on this Lake really makes you impressed. 

Photo: Banh Tom Ho Tay (West Lake Shrimp cake )

Additionally, Bo Bia cake is also a street food that can’t miss in West Lake, and it can be found in any hawkers on Thanh Nien Street.

John Sidney McCain Memorial (Hanoi) – Remembering John McCain in Hanoi

There is a small stone monument on Truc Bach Lake, memorizing the spot in central Hanoi where pilot John McCain crashed his plane while bombing the Vietnamese capital during the Vietnam War.

(Read: How John McCain’s Years as a Vietnam POW Shaped His Life).

 Located along a busy road between Truc Bach and nearby West Lake, the memorial has an airplane pilot kneeling in his hand alongside letters USAF, an ironic mistake to think that a Marine veteran McCain Army, who died in 2018 of brain cancer, is the admirable son and grandson of the Navy.

 Dubbed the Hanoi secondment, the Hilton hotel, by McCain and his American prisoners, the French colonialists built the prison in 1896. Most of the original complex was demolished to make room for an office building and high-rise apartment building – currently rumored to be haunted – and the other museum has become one of the city’s top tourist attractions. Through a gift shop, narrow corridors lead to windowless boxes where Vietnamese dissidents are shackled with shackles, and the Vietnamese translation of Hoa Lo Prison is like a hell hole. It seems terribly accurate.

Photo: John Mccain Memorial in Hanoi

Fantastic stories and facts about Hanoi West Lake that not everyone knows about

There are many mysterious legends about the origin of the incredible West Lake. So this is the reason the Lake has plenty of interesting names. Each name of West Lake represented a legend of the origin of the legendary West Lake.

Fox Corpse Swamp (Đầm Xác Cáo)

A legend says that West Lake was formed when the Dragon King Lac Long Quan, the second Hung King of the ancient Hong Bang Dynasty of Vietnam, fought against and engulfed an evil spirit. evil with nine tails in his lair

After the victory of Lac Long Quan and the death of the evil fox, West Lake was named Fox Corpse Swamp to remember this event.

Golden Buffalo Lake (Kim Ngưu Lake)

Another folklore source said a large buffalo confused the temple bell and its mother tongue and ran violently into a small niche and died. After that, the Lake was formed from the mother’s struggle to the death of her calf.

Foggy Lake (Dâm Đàm Lake)

In the 11th century, West Lake was trapped in a long fog for a very long time. Therefore, the name of the Lake was changed to Foggy Lake that is similar to its unique condition, also known as Dam Dan Lake.

West Lake (Tay Ho Lake)

In 1973, to avoid the name of King Le Thanh Tong, its name was changed to West Lake.

Tran Quoc Pagoda – one intriguing point of interest at West Lake

Built in the sixth century by King Ly Nam De, Tran Quoc Pagoda is known as the most ancient temple of Vietnam. The pagoda is located on a small island in the middle of West Lake, a convenient location.

Tran Quoc Pagoda has a unique structure with a spectacular tower at the entrance, including 11 floors, and is very impressive with a height of 15 meters.

If you visit Tran Quoc Pagoda in the afternoon, you can immerse yourself in the stunning scenery of the temple at sunset and take memorable photos here.

Particularly, coming to this place, you can understand more about Vietnamese religion since it is considered a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism.

Photo: Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi

Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple is another attraction located at West Lake’s crossroads.  

Quan Thanh Pagoda Gate

One of the most sacred ancient temples in Vietnam( built in the 11th century), Quan Thanh is a symbol of the religion of the Vietnamese northern. In the 19th century, the Quan Thanh temple was renovated and became more impressive with three gates and a large yard.

Quan Thanh Temple is open for locals and visitors to pray for luck, health, and happiness in their life.

Local Tips to Ho Tay Lake (Hanoi West Lake)

  • Appropriate time: Early morning and evening is the best time for enjoying the fresh air.
  • West Lake is huge, so you should hike a bike to go around to see the beauty of the Lake, meanwhile saving a lot of money.
  • Dress code: to join in outdoor activities, you should choose comfortable clothes to make you the most convenient. If you intend to visit pagodas in West Lake, remember to wear formal dresses.
  • Be careful with pickpockets and thieves in public places.

Whether you decide to explore Hanoi on your own or join a daily tour, there’s no doubt you will enjoy this unforgettable city!

If you want any further advice and information, please contact us, the OneTrip with Local team. It is our pleasure to help you!

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