Hoan Kiem

Hoan Kiem Lake – Legend And Symbol Of Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake is a freshwater lake located in the historic center of Hanoi, Vietnam, with about 12 hectares. The lake is one of the main attractions of the city and the focal point of the city’s public life. History of Hoan Kiem Lake Hoan Kiem Lake is a natural freshwater lake in the center

Hoan Kiem Lake is a freshwater lake located in the historic center of Hanoi, Vietnam, with about 12 hectares. The lake is one of the main attractions of the city and the focal point of the city’s public life.

History of Hoan Kiem Lake

7+ Hoan Kiem Lake & ảnh Hanoi miễn phí - Pixabay

Hoan Kiem Lake is a natural freshwater lake in the center of Hanoi. Previously, the lake was also known as Luc Thuy Lake (roughly translated: as Emerald Lake) because of its perennial turquoise color or Thuy Quan Lake (roughly translated: as Navy Lake) because it was used for naval exercises.

Around the 15th century, the lake was renamed Hoan Kiem Lake (Ho Guom) because it is associated with the legend that King Le Thai To (1385 – 1433) returned the Excalibur sword to the Turtle God.

According to legend, after defeating the Ming at the beginning of 1428, Emperor Le Lai was rowing a boat on the lake when Than Quy Vang (Golden Turtle) emerged and asked him to grant Excalibur, the Heavenly Mandate.

King Le Loi concluded that Kim Qui had come to retrieve the sword that its owner, the local god, Long Vuong, had given Loi before to defeat the Chinese Ming.

After defeating the Han army, the emperor returned the sword to the turtle. To commemorate this event, Le Hoang changed the name of the lake from Luc Thuy, which means “blue water”. Turtle Tower (Turtle Tower) located on a small island near the center of the lake is associated with legend.

Hoan Kiem Lake was named Ta Vong, when the king had not returned the sword to the Golden Tortoise God (Old Tortoise).

Hoan Kiem Lake today

Hoan Kiem Lake | Hanoi, Vietnam | Attractions - Lonely Planet

Lakes and temples have plenty of trees and shady places to escape the busy streets of the city. To get there, head to the old town, and the main post office is located by the lake.

Buy tickets at the ticket counter on the left before crossing the bridge. The temple opens at 08:00 daily and closes at 17:00. It’s best to get to the lake early to watch the locals do morning yoga and tai chi. To get to the temple, walk across the bright red Huc Bridge with flags on Pearl Island.

At around 6 a.m. daily, residents practice Tai Chi on the beach. Sunset is also a great time to explore the lake and take some stunning photos at sunset.

The ruined Turtle Tower, on a small island near the southern tip, is often considered a symbol of Hanoi. Around the lake, there are many elegant pagoda-style stone gates engraved with Chinese characters, including Hoa Phong Pagoda (Thap Hoa Phong) near the southeastern shore of the lake.

You can often come across small groups of university and high school students in Hanoi interviewing foreigners to practice English. They are always polite, often happy to talk to, and provide opportunities to socialize with young local people while they have the opportunity to improve their language skills (Vietnamese are very ambitious about this)


Hoan Kiem Lake: The Legend of the Restored Sword of Hanoi, Vietnam | The Poor Traveler Itinerary Blog

When the French colonists invaded Vietnam in 1884, they rebuilt and dramatically changed the landscape around the lake, including the old quarter. Although the war has passed, Vietnam still retains the masterpieces of French architecture. This place represents a tragic and epic period in the country’s history.

Today, there is still an old turtle living in the lake. It is estimated to have lived for hundreds of years. Is this the legendary Hoan Kiem Lake turtle or an ordinary old turtle? This question has always remained a mystery, which is why the lake has a certain appeal to international tourists. 

Besides shopping, you can also dine at nearby restaurants. A part of the street is an area dedicated to folk games. Along the streets, you can see buskers singing and playing free music.

What to see at Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi?

Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple - Hanoi: Get the Detail of Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple on Times of India Travel

There are many ways to get to Hoan Kiem Lake, including taxis, motorbikes, and public transport. In Hanoi, many bus routes stop by the lake, so this is considered the most economical way for those traveling far from the city center.

You can also rent a bike from your hotel or other rental companies and explore on your own. Pay attention to asking the price first and check the car carefully.

Turtle Tower

Turtle Tower is a small tower located on a small island of about 350m2 in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Turtle Tower was built during the French colonial period, bearing the imprint of French and Vietnamese architectural styles with a multi-story structure typical for French architecture, and a curved roof typical for Vietnam. Turtle Tower has three floors, the upper floor is smaller than the lower one.

Besides the architecture, what makes Turtle Tower special is its location and meaning. This gives the tower an eerie beauty, as to visitors it seems both near and far. There is no boat to go to Turtle Tower. It can only be seen from the lake shore, which makes people even more curious.

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple: A sacred site in the heart of Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple is located on a small island in the center of Hoan Kiem Lake. Built-in the 19th century, the temple was originally dedicated to Luc Thuy Lake who suppressed bad luck. It was later changed to a Buddhist temple, then restored to the present-day pagoda.

Go inside and you will see the two main buildings of the temple. They have the architectural style of temples in the northern regions of Vietnam. In the 2 pagodas, there are 2 large statues.

The statue of Tran Hung Dao is placed on a stone bench more than one meter high, and the statue of Fan Zun holds a brush in his hand, in a relaxed posture.

In addition to these two buildings, the highlight that deserves to be appreciated by visitors here is the glass cabinet with a model of the Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake). The majestic turtles when coming here will surely make visitors amazed and excited.

The Huc Red Bridge

To get to the aforementioned Ngoc Son Temple, you need to cross The Huc Bridge. Built in 1865, this red wooden bridge connects the riverbank with Ngoc Son Temple in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Throughout its history, The Huc Bridge has seen many memorable stories. Legend has it that since the completion of the Tu Ha bridge, the students (in the past, the academic exam) flocked to Ngoc Son temple to ask for points. Near the exam time, the temple guard reminded candidates not to jostle for the bridge to collapse.

The bridge underwent two restorations in 1897 and 1952 after its span was broken on New Year’s Eve due to the overcrowding of visitors to Ngoc Son Temple. The bridge this time was rebuilt with a cement foundation instead of a wooden foundation.

King Le Thai To Temple

Statue of King Le Thai To, Hanoi

Located in the complex at 16 Le Thai To Street (Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District), King Le Thai To Temple is one of the oldest relics in Hanoi.

King Le monument and monuments were built in 1894 to commemorate King Le’s merits in defeating the enemy and the legend of turtles returning swords at Hoan Kiem Lake.

The complex consists of 3 main structures: the entrance, the public housing, and the monument. The entrance gate is built of brick with three doors and four pillars, close to the sidewalk.

The public service house is open to all 4 fronts. The 1.2-meter-high bronze statue is placed on a stone pillar, holding a sword and trying to return the sword to the lake.

Other tourist attractions near Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

Quận Hoàn Kiếm dần trở thành một trung tâm sáng tạo của Thủ đô | Văn hóa | Vietnam+ (VietnamPlus)

Due to its excellent location, it is a very convenient tourist destination. You can take a walk by the lake, visit famous landmarks nearby, and learn about the typical culture of the surrounding old town. This lake is the intersection of many famous streets in the old city such as Hang Dao, Luong Van Can, Hang Ngang, etc. 

Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street

Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street is open from 19:00 to 11:59 every weekend. This area extends through most of the old streets around the lake.

Although there are no modern games or services here, the pedestrian street attracts visitors with traditional activities that show the identity and spirit of Vietnamese national culture.

You will see a lot of people playing Mancala, tug of war, shuttlecock, etc. There are many community activities organized to attract the attention and participation of a large number of young people.

Along the streets of the Promenade, you will easily encounter many artists performing a variety of music in a variety of styles, from vibrant Latin America to pop, the group acts to traditional repertoire.

In addition, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, visitors can also shop, take photos, and eat while walking around Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House - Wikipedia

Hanoi Opera House located at 1, Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, is an architectural work built by the French from 1901 to 1911 (Vietnam colonial period).

At that time, the theater was a place specializing in the performance of luxurious classical art repertoires such as opera, chamber music, and drama… for French officials or elites and a few Vietnamese businessmen.

Outside the theater, through the delicate decoration and classical patterns, one can feel the “breath” of Europe. Entering the main hall, visitors can not help but be amazed by the magnificence of this place.

The whole room is paved with white stone imported from Italy, the red carpet walkway makes people feel like they are in an English palace. The ceiling and walls are decorated with a system of small copper or gilded chandeliers in a classic style.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Water Puppet Ticket

Water puppetry is one of the long-standing traditional arts of Vietnam. Performers will use puppets to perform on the water. While ordinary puppetry is available in many countries around the world, water puppetry is only available in Vietnam.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater was established in 1969, This is a tourist attraction near Hoan Kiem Lake that has experienced many ups and downs. As water puppetry became less popular, theaters sometimes encountered seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

Thanks to the efforts of artisans who love this traditional art form, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater made a big step forward in 1990 when it decided to invest in restoring this art form to perform in service. domestic and foreign tourists.

Currently, most tours in Hanoi include visits to the theater and water puppetry. Therefore, the theater is open all year round, there is always a show.

Hoan Kiem Lake, despite many changes, is still a relic of great historical significance for the people of Hanoi, especially the people of Vietnam.

Lake water can always bring interesting experiences to visitors, making them curious about the mysterious legends of this country, and making everyone deeply impressed by the long-standing cultural identity. 

If you need any assistance with your trip at Hoan Kiem Lake or plan your trip in Hanoi Vietnam, please contact Annie:

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