Hoan Kiem Lake is the first thing to come to people’ mind when mentioning Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake is regarded as the heart of Hanoi, and this lake has been through a long history with people here. Although Hanoi is a bustling, noisy city, Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi Old Quarter is still a place people go to in order to find out the peace in their mind.

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Historically, the lake is part of Red River, the main river as the water supply source of the capital. Through the change in architecture and layout of the capital, the water line is separated, and the lake is formed in two divided lakes, Tả Vọng, and Hữu Vọng lake. In the French invasion, Hữu Vọng lake is blocked, while the other lake remained.

It is not until the 15th century when Tả Vọng lake has the updated name, as Hồ Hoàn Kiếm (Returned Sword Lake) or more common name Hồ Gươm (Sword Lake), with the legend after the victory over the Ming Dynasty intruders.


6 Impressive Facts Behind The Sacred Heart of Hanoi

1. Sword Lake never runs dry

From past to present, people have never seen Sword Lake run out of water. The water in the lake is natural water, relatively stable and it is not clear where the water comes from. To this day, scientists have not yet explained this “mystery”.

According to Associate Professor Ha Dinh Duc – a researcher on Ho Guom turtle, a section of the Red River after turning the stream has created Hoan Kiem Lake. Therefore, many people believe that the water level in Hoan Kiem Lake depends on the water of the Red River, but in fact, the lake water will not rise when the Red River is in the flood season.

In contrast, in drought years, when the water level of the Red River through Hanoi was at a record low, the water of Hoan Kiem Lake was not significantly affected.

2. Lake water has emerald color in four seasons

Hoan kiem Lake water has emerald color in four seasons

If you have the opportunity to visit Hoan Kiem Lake at different times of the year, visitors will find that the charming of lake water with the emerald color.

Scientists say the green of the water is made up of many strains of green algae with more than 30 taxons (units of taxonomy). Also, there are rare algae species in the world.

3. Are there 2 Turtle Towers in Hoan Kiem Lake?

The origin of Turtle Tower in the middle of Sword Lake is still a mystery to many people and is a lively discussion topic for scholars.

Many researchers have cited research documents to prove that the Turtle Tower is a work built by Nguyen Huu Kim, a rich man in Hanoi in the late 19th century.

Around 1877, Kim spent money to build the tower to be the “the back pillow” for Bao An pagoda but essentially wants to bury the remains of their parents in it. This plan was unsuccessful, but because of treacherous lies, Ba Kim still had to build the Turtle tower. The tower is located in a beautiful position in the middle of the lake and now becomes a victory of Hanoi.

According to author Nguyen Du, in Ho Guom there are… 2 Turtle towers. Today’s Turtle Tower and the Turtle Tower built by Kim are completely different towers from foundation to summit. In 1877, Kim built an octagonal, three-story Turtle tower (as described by French journalist Bourde during a visit to Vietnam in February 1884).

By the end of May 1884, the old Turtle Tower was destroyed and another rectangular 4-story on the old tower foundation was built. It is the tower you see today.

It is still not the final conclusion, but we can trust the Turtle Tower between the clear and poetic Sword Lake is not (or never was) a tomb as rumored.

4. The unique combination between Eastern and Western architecture of Turtle Tower

Turtle Tower architecture combines the East and the West, shown in the Gothic arch on the lower two floors and the roof of the tower with the traditional curved roof of Vietnam.

The strange architecture of the Turtle Tower was criticized by French journalists – Bourde as a very bad and strange style. However, today no one can deny that the strange combination of East-West has brought a unique and charming look to the tower.

Analyzing the Turtle Tower according to the golden ratio, the surprising result is that the entire tower is enclosed in a circle, showing the 5-pointed star.

5. Statue of Liberty on the roof of the Turtle Tower

Do you know that there was… Statue of Liberty in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake?

It sounds very strange, but IT IS A FACT!

The French colonial government in Hanoi decided to place Statue of Liberty on the roof of the Turtle Tower, which they called a small temple.

The statue was placed there from 1891 to 1896. The statue faces the east – the Ly Thai To flower garden area today.

After that, the Statue of Liberty was moved to Neyret flower garden in the west of Hoan Kiem lake.

In 1945, with the idea of casting the largest Buddha statue in Vietnam, the Ngu Xa villagers donated to buy statue to gather and cast a 16-ton Buddhist statue on the lotus.

6. Hoan Kiem Lake and the modern life of Hanoians

Hoan Kiem Lake and the modern life of Hanoians

Hoan Kiem Lake every morning

Located at the heart of the city, Hoàn Kiếm Lake has been part of the daily life of people who live around the lake and also the Hanoian around the city for decades. Therefore, the lake is always crowded with many people and never seemed to get bored for the chains of activities happened every day.

In the early morning: many people, mostly the old, come to the lake and practice Tai Chi. The youths come here to run around the lake as a morning exercise.

In the afternoon: young students come to Hoan Kiem Lake to hang out and relax, sometimes to make friends with international tourists and introduce with them about Hanoi.

At night: the old often gather at the lake to do some late-night exercise, whereas the young couple often come here to have some date

At the weekends: the road around the lake is blocked from traffic and becomes a walking street for pedestrians. Many traditional games and live music are performed, promise to be an interesting site for visitors.

Free Hanoi Old Quarter Walking Tour

The Complex of Hoan Kiem Lake Map

A guide map for tourists

Hoan Kiem lake is an old complex, consists of 5 different architecture

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake is the ancient site that holds the story and the value of the old time, which is treasured till the modern days. Moreover, the lake is a familiar place for the Hanoian at all ages, coming for activities all the days.

Keep walking around the lake, the first thing you will see is the Turtle tower.

Turtle Tower

Turtle Tower was built in 1886, and now commemorates Le Loi, a warrior during the Ming invasion time.

It was said that, in the French Colonists time, there was a small replica of Liberty Statue brought from France. However, it was taken away

Another thing that you can easily find is The Huc Bridge.

The Huc Bridge

The Huc Bridge leading to Ngoc Son Temple

 is the bridge connecting the temple to the shore and dominated by the bright red color. The redness stands for the cultural belief of luck and happiness of the Vietnamese, also contributes to the name of the bridge, meaning the Morning Sunlight Bridge.

Vietnamese primary students usually describe The Huc in an adorable way which compares it with a shrimp.

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple, also known as the Temple of Jade Mountain, located in the Jade Island of the lake. It is now dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a reputed Vietnamese general in the 13th century, scholar Văn Xương and Nguyễn Văn Siêu, a Confucian master.

The present architecture reflects the Chinese style favored by the Nguyen dynasty at the time. The design of the lake, surrounded by the green water, directs the energy towards the pagoda.

Ngoc Son Temple gate is always the favorite photography spot of tourism

Pen Tower

Pen Tower is a ten-meter high stone structure, whose tip resembles a writing brush, standing on the mass of stone, as the mountain, known as the Writing Pad. In the tower written the phase: “Writing in the blue sky”

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Must-to-do at Hoan Kiem Lake

Eating Trang Tien ice cream

Trang Tien Ice Cream is a famous ice cream firm that has been available since 1958 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The reason for ice cream named “Trang Tien” is because ice cream is sold and produced in Trang Tien street, the first time is at the house of 35 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem district.

Trang Tien Ice Cream has become a very popular ice cream brand for Hanoi people and a certain dish must be tried, to the extent that it is often said that if coming to Hanoi but not eating Trang Tien ice cream, it is not considered to have arrived in Hanoi. Here, you not only experience the taste of favorite ice cream of Hanoi people but also an awesome local place to beat the heat in Hanoi.

Ice cream has many different flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, cereal, coconut milk, taro, … But the most famous of them are ice cream and coconut cream. Fragrant cinnamon is crispy, full of milk, but it is not sweet and sweet but it is not so rich and delicious. The sweetness of the ice cream blends with the aroma and crispness of the cinnamon which is the perfect combination.

The price of each ice cream ranges from about 12.000 – 25.000 VND.

Drinking Egg Coffee

Egg cafe is really a new discovery in the journey to Vietnam. Having been drinking coffee in many places, but the coffee in Hanoi is the most impressive, especially egg coffee”, that’s what Blogger floats. Jodi Ettenberg once shared on AFAR travel site.

Ranked among the 17 cafes to try while traveling the world at Buzzfeed, Egg Coffee is definitely a drink you can’t miss during your trip to Hanoi.

The taste of coffee and the aromatic taste of egg yolk, add sweet creamy flavor, all make the hot and aromatic egg cups that anyone who has tried is unmistakable with any taste. other.

To enjoy an original Egg Coffee, try it at Giang Cafe or Dinh Cafe.

  • Giang Cafe: Ngo 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Dinh Cafe: 13 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Price for each cup of Egg Coffee in 20.000 – 35.000 VND.

Playing folk game

Speaking of the valuable activities that Hanoi pedestrian street brings, it is worth mentioning the experience of ancient folk games such as jumping rope, tug of war, eating umbrellas …

Every weekend, many young people or cultural clubs often prepare tools and boards … turning street space into a yard of traditional games. In it, the umbrella eating and jumping rope are two games that attract the most attention.

The young people here are also very enthusiastic and friendly. They will introduce and guide you about the origin, meaning and how to play each game, this is a very good opportunity to learn about Vietnamese folk cultures.

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