Hoan Kiem Lake is the first thing come to people’ mind when mention Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake is regarded as the heart of Hanoi, and this lake has been through the long history with people here. Although Hanoi is a bustling, noisy city, Hoan Kiem lake is still a place people go to in order to find out the peace in their mind.
Hoan Kiem Lake – Did you know clearly?
Ticket price/ Entrance Fee
Public place and free
*Ticket price for Ngoc Son Temple is 15.000 VND
How to get there
You can come to Hoan Kiem Lake by bus, taxi, motorbike or bike.
For bus: take bus line 09, 14, 36 and stop at Hoan Kiem Lake Bus Stop
For motorbike/bike: as a walking site, you are recommended to park your vehicles at the parking line, which is parallel to Cau Go Street.
Parking fee: 10.000 VND
The History of Hoan Kiem Lake
History of formation
Historically, the lake is part of Hồng River, the main river as 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.
2. The Complex of Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem lake is an old complex, consists of 5 different architecture
- Hoan Kiem Lake: 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 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: is the bridge connecting the temple to the shore and dominated by the bright red color. The redness stands for 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.
Going passing by the The Huc Bridge, you will see 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 lake, surrounded by the green water, directs the energy towards the pagoda.
- Pen Tower: 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”
B. Hoan Kiem Lake in the Modern Time
1. The daily activity
Located at the heart of the city, Hoàn Kiếm Lake has been part of daily life of the people who lives 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 bore for the chains of activities happened all days.
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 Hoàn Kiếm Lake to hangout and relax, sometimes to make friends with international tourists and introduce with them about Hanoi.
At the 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
In the weekends, the road around the lake is blocked from traffic and become walking street for pedestrians. Many traditional games and live music are performed, promise to be an interesting site for visitors.
2. Activity around the lake
As a benefit of location in the center of Hanoi, visitors are provided of a variety of choice for the next destinations.
- Hoa Lo Prison: also known as Maison Centrale, a representative testimony of the period of Vietnamese revolutionary struggle against the French colonists
Address: 1 Hoa Lo Street
- Old City Gate Hanoi: Old City Gate Hanoi ( O Quan Chuong ) is the last remaining gate of the old Thang Long Citadel.
- West Lake (Ho Tay) Hanoi: If you want to go far from the center of Hanoi, West lake Hanoi is highly recommend. This is also a popular place for recreation.