If you are seeking for a tranquil and peaceful place to escape from the hustling and bustling life routine in Hanoi, West Lake Hanoi will be a super suitable choice which will not take much of your energy and time moving since it is located right in Hanoi City. Known as the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi, West Lake has a big attraction to thousands of both residents and tourists seeking a sanctuary of great natural beauty formed by one of Vietnamese four sacred temples and Vietnam’s oldest pagoda.

west lake hanoi

A part of Thanh Nien street on West Lake

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Where is West Lake situated? – West Lake Hanoi Map

Also locally known as Tay Ho Lake, West Lake is located in the center of Hanoi and has an impressive perimeter of 17 kilometers and width of about 5 square kilometers.

The West Lake Hanoi was originally sited on the Red River. However, for repeated flooding and erosion, it was relocated to the present position on Kim Ngu Islet, also known as Golden Fish Islet.

tran quoc pagoda

Kim Ngu Islet is located on the southeast shoreline of the lake where Tran Quoc Pagoda is placed.

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

There are a variety of mysterious legends about the origin of the wonderful West Lake. As a result, this lake also has plenty of different interesting names. Depending on every historical period, Tay Ho Lake possesses various names. Each name of West Lake is kept a legend of the origin of the legendary West Lake.

Map from Hanoi Old Quarter to West Lake

  • Fox Corpse Swamp (Đầm Xác Cáo)

One legend claims that West Lake was shaped when the Dragon King Lac Long Quan, known as the second Hung King of the Hong Bang Dynasty of ancient Vietnam, fought against and drowned a wicked fox spirit with nine tails in his lair.

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

  • Golden Buffalo Lake (Kim Ngưu Lake)

An alternative folklore source says that a large buffalo was mistakenly confused between a pagoda temple bell and its mother’s call and ran so fiercely into a small hollow and passed away. After that, the lake was formed from the struggle of the mother to the death of her calf.

  • Foggy Lake (Dâm Đàm Lake)

In the 11th century, West Lake was stuck into the misty condition that lasted for a very long time. Therefore, the name of the lake was changed into Foggy Lake which was similar to its particular condition, also known as Dâm Đàm Lake.

  • West Lake (Tay Ho Lake)

In 1973, its name was changed into West Lake to avoid the given name of King Lê Thế Tông, which was Duy Đàm. This name implies the large covering location of the lake.

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Significant landscapes around West Lake’s perimeters – West Lake Hanoi Attractions

West Lake not only impresses tourists with its beauty of large freshwater lake but also places of interest with historical value. Here are some famous historic places of interest that can’t miss when visit West Lake Hanoi.

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 oldest temple of Vietnam. The pagoda resides on a small islet which is in the middle of the West Lake, a favorable position.

Tran Quoc Pagoda has a unique structure with a spectacular tower right in the entrance which consists of 11 levels and is impressive with a height of 15 meters.

If you visit Tran Quoc Pagoda in the afternoon, you can immerse yourself into an especially stunning view of the pagoda at sunset and take memorable pictures here.

>>> More about Tran Quoc Pagoda – 7 Reasons Why You Should Visit This Place Once During Your Getaway

Particularly, coming to this place, you can gain further understanding about Vietnamese religion since it is considered as a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism.

Quan Thanh Temple

The other attraction which located on at West Lake’s crossroads of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street is Quan Thanh Temple.

quan thanh pagoda

Quan Thanh Pagoda Gate

Built during the reign of King Ly Thai To (1010-1028), Quan Thanh Pagoda is considered one of four most sacred ancient temples in Vietnam. The establishment of this temple is dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vo, the god who reigned over Vietnam’s northern regions. In the 19th century, Quan Thanh Temple was renovated and has become impressive with a triple gate and large courtyard.

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

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Chu Van An High School

The school is regarded as one of the three provincial public magnet high schools in Hanoi, Vietnam, along with Hanoi-Amsterdam High School and Nguyen Hue High School

Established by French authorities in 1908 as High School of the Protectorate, this is the oldest institutions for secondary education in Indochina. The most special feature in this high school is its beautiful and unique architecture in large space and a picturesque view to West Lake. Although built long time ago, its style seems not to be old-fashioned at all.

Nowadays, Chu Van An High School is one of three national high schools of Vietnam, which trains and educates gifted students for the country.

Chu Van An High School

The library of Chu Van An – a one-thousand-year-old high school situated on the road beside West Lake

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West Lake Hanoi Things To Do

Visiting West Lake Hanoi, tourists can join interesting activities while enjoying the fresh air here, which is completely not similar to other experience at the center of Hanoi.

West Lake Hanoi Things To Do

Admiring peaceful sunset is a frequent and relaxing activity Hanoi people always do at West Lake

  • Cycling around West Lake

Cycling in West Lake is a very exciting activity that every tourist should take part in. Riding a bicycle around West Lake gives tourists a good chance to explore the whole beauty of the lake and also enjoy the cool fresh air here. The renting cost for a bike just ranges from 40.000 to 70.000 VND/bike and you can easily find one along West Lake.

  • Water sports activity in West Lake

Not only sea area has water sports, but you can also join energetic activities in West Lake. The most popular activity here is kayaking on the lake. The renting price for one kayak including 1-3 seats ranges from 100.000 to 200.000 VND/hour.

  • Sightseeing in the West Lake

West Lake is the most beautiful in the early morning, late afternoon and evening so that you can consider coming here at this time to just relax, see the beautiful building on the other side of the lake and the local life along the lake or take some pictures.

  • Entertainment places in West Lake

West Lake Hanoi is a magnificent destination to unwind and sip a cup of coffee in a coffee shop or a street-side restaurant. There are also many fantastic pubs along West Lake so that you can have some cocktail and some fun there.

shrimp cake in West Lake

A delicious dish of famous shrimp cake in West Lake

  • Enjoying typical cuisine of West Lake area

When visiting West Lake, Ho Tay ice-cream is a must-try and typical dessert in this lake. This ice-cream shop is opposite to Tran Quoc Pagoda and it is almost always crowded so that you can queue while waiting to buy an ice-cream.

Famous Shrimp cake is also a typical cuisine of Hanoi that every tourist must try when coming to West Lake. Visitors can enjoy the unforgettable flavor of shrimp cake at floating restaurants on the this Lake.

Additionally, Bo Bia cake is also a street food that can’t miss in West Lake. You can easily find Bo Bia cake from lots of hawkers on romantic Thanh Nien street.

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)

Local Tips to Ho Tay Lake (Hanoi West Lake)

  • Appropriate time: Visitors can go there on the early morning or evening as the atmosphere is very fresh and comfortable.
  • West Lake is very large so that it is most ideal to hire a bike to go around West Lake that helps you proactive and save lots of money.
  • Dress code: Visitors can wear comfortable clothes and flat shoes or sandals to walk and take part in outdoor activities. If you have an intention of visiting pagodas in West Lake, remember to put on formal clothes.
  • Pay attention to pickpockets and thieves in public places.