Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

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  • bcatton's Profile Photo

    The Heart (and Soul) of Hanoi.

    by bcatton Updated Apr 13, 2008

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    View from the City View Cafe.
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    Obviously i'd read about Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) before i came to Hanoi, but i definitely wasn't prepared for how much i would like it. 'The Rough Guide to Vietnam' describes it as 'not particularly spectacular'. I have to totally disagree with these thoughts/feelings, i personally think the writer has got it completely wrong.
    This lake to me is more than spectacular. To capture the essence of the lake i think you have to do what i did, which was to visit it on different days (and at night) and for more than just a half hour to truly understand it. I just found myself drawn to it time and time again.
    It's wonderful to sit on one of the many benches beside the lake to relax, read a book or watch people go about their everyday lives. It's also a great place to meet people, i had numerous people approach me just to talk or in a couple of cases for me to help them pronounce their English language skills!! Throughout the day and particularly at night couples would sit or snuggle up on the benches or on the banks beside the lake enjoying one anothers company. I have to say i think it's quite a romantic place at night.
    If you're in Hanoi you have to go visit Hoan Kiem Lake. (Not that you can miss it!).

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    Hoan Kiem Lake is beautiful at night too !

    by kokoryko Written Jan 18, 2008

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    Night sky over the lake
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    Walking around the Returned Sword Lake at night is very rewarding too, in the cool air, a bit far from noise, looking at people, joggers again, people walking slowly together, and lots of young couples sitting on the benches; a very quiet relaxing atmosphere.
    At night the Ngoc son, lit with green light is a sort of a mystic appearance, specially with the red flag in the background! The lights of the city make some beautiful reflections which can be enjoyed all around. On the main picture is the famous The Huc Bridge, which is also wonderful at day.

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  • kokoryko's Profile Photo

    If there is one lake to see, it is this one !

    by kokoryko Written Jan 18, 2008

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    View from south
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    One lake you cannot miss in Hanoi is Hoan Kiem Lake, the lake of the returned sword. The Tortoise Tower (Thap Rua) standing in the center of lake is linked to the legend which gave its name to the lake: this legend says that after a victory against the armies of the Chinese Ming emperors, emperor Le Loi handed back a magic sword to the Golden Turtle God in the lake and hence gave it its present name.
    The Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain Temple) sits on another island to the north of the lake and can be reached over a famous red bridge.
    It takes less than one hour to walk (slowly) around this picturesque lake, under the trees, among joggers, families, young people on tour, etc. . . This lake is located to the south and East of the old city, easily reachable from most hotels in the old city or the former French district (to the South). On the western shore there are a few open air cafes and terraces from where you can enjoy fresh air and the view over the lake.
    A morning walk around the lake is very pleasant, before the noise of the city grows.

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    The legend of Hoan Kiem Lake

    by fachd Updated Nov 16, 2007

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    Thap Rua Tortoise Tower
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    When you go to Hanoi, the favourite destination for tourist and also the local is Hoan Kiem Lake. It is located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You can have a pleasant walk around the lake. The area is surrounded by parks and gardens with many large trees. You can stop and have a refreshment in several café located near by. There are many activities surrounding the Lake. In the morning you will see the energetic Hanoians and foreign expatriate jog around the lake, some do tai chi and others played badminton. You will see the local trying to catch fish, while the hawkers selling food and other interesting items.

    Walking around the lake you will see the Huc Bridge which leads to the Ngoc Son Temple. In the middle of the lake you will see Thap Rua Tortoise tower. Monument of national hero Le Loi is located on the other side of the road, very close.

    Hoan Kiem Lake is in habitat by rare giant fresh water Tortoises, presumably the largest fresh water tortoise in the world. Every now and then the giant turtle do come up out of the murky water. It was sighted this year in November 2007, a month after we left Hanoi. I would love to see it but it wasn’t meant to be.

    Many Hanoians believed the legend of Hoan Kiem Lake. In the 15th century there was a nobleman named Le Loi who later became King Le Thaito. Le Loi repelled the invading Chinese from the Ming dynasty and finally won the battle with the help of the sword he found in the lake whilst fishing. After many years of peace, King Le Thaito want to return the sword, he went back to the lake and without any warning a giant golden turtle appeared. The king returned the sword to the giant golden turtle and submerged to the depths. King Le Thaito renames Luc Thuy to Hoan Kiem .The meaning of Hoan Kiem is the lake of the Return Sword. The tortoise has important part in Vietnamese culture, the tortoise promote wisdom.

    The legend has similararity to King Arthur legend which also happen to be in the same century.

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  • Etoile2B's Profile Photo

    Hoan Kiem Lake

    by Etoile2B Written Nov 13, 2007

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    Hoan Keim Lake
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    Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular tourist attraction in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It is worth checking out. Take a stroll around the lake and you will see a cross-section of life in the city: tourists capturing the site through their camera lenses, Vietnamese teenagers hanging out with friends on park benches, vendors selling goodies or and services. We found one woman who was towing a scale for people to weigh themselves. Marc couldn’t resist. One of the most pleasant experiences was simply taking a walk around the lake and sitting on a park bench, taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and just people watching. Public restrooms are available here and are clean. In fact there are attendants waiting outside to clean the bathrooms after each use. Jade Island, located in the middle of the lake, is connected to the mainland by Huc Bridge. The Ngoc Son Temple can be found on the island and is a popular tourist attraction. Legend has it that a rare speices of turtle still resides in the waters of Hoan Keim Lake.

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  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Hanoi V - More sights of Hanoi.

    by pfsmalo Updated Aug 19, 2007

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    Rising sun bridge at Hoan Kiem lake.
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    Hoan Kiem lake is one of the nicest places to go to in Hanoi. Not far from the old quarter, this where the locals come for their early morning Tai chi.In the north east corner there is the "Rising sun" bridge leading over to the Ngoc Son pagoda. A short walk from here takes you to the water puppet theatre. Also on the eastern side of the lake is the main post office.

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    Early Morning Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

    by tampa_shawn Updated Jun 6, 2007

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    Take an Early Morning Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

    I loved watching Hanoi wake up in the mornings…turning from a sleepy little town to a crazy city in the space of an hour…if you just can’t get up at 5:30 or 6AM to do Tai Chi in Lennon Park (See recommendation for that tip) then you can get some of the atmosphere by taking a stroll around Hoa Kiem Lake and any attached parks that catch your attention. In the morning you’ll see people doing Tai Chi sometimes in small groups, but usually alone…which is quite poetic with the backdrop of the lake, later on you’ll see people relaxing and enjoying the lake and couples sitting on benches leaning towards each other silently watching the water, later in the day small groups gather squatting on the ground playing cards or dominoes. It will take you 30 minutes to walk around the lake if you don’t dally too much…it took me several hours….

    While you're walking make sure to note the tiny island in the lake with the three-tiered pavilion. This is known as Tortoise Tower for a famous Vietnamese legend about a Turtle. The lake is reputed to still house the giant Tortoise of the legend.

    When you’re on the North side of the lake make sure to cross the beautiful arched red-lacquered Hun Bridge and pay the toll ($1 US) to enter Den Ngoc Son (Temple of the Jade Mound).

    Also note the Water Puppet Theater (highly recommended) is directly across the street (Dinh Tien Hang Street) from here.

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  • bsfreeloader's Profile Photo

    The Soul of Hanoi

    by bsfreeloader Written May 21, 2007

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    Hoan Kiem Lake is considered by Hanoians to be the soul of their city. You can circle the entire lake in thirty minutes without breaking a sweat, allowing ample time for photographs of, among other things, the Tortoise Tower.

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    Ho Hoan Kiem - Lake of the Restored Sword

    by bumpychick Written Apr 30, 2007

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    Turtle Stupa

    This lake lies in the centre of old Hanoi and provides a retreat from the bustle of the city. On the east side there is an area of trees where many of the locals (and tourists) sit and watch the world go by. In the middle of the lake is a small pagoda called the Tortoise Stupa, which is very much photographed!
    It is lovely to walk all the way round the lake, this will help you to get an idea of the geography of the area, as you can access many of the paces of interest from here.

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    Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake

    by Starsa Updated Mar 24, 2007

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    Hoan Kiem Lake
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    The lake isn't too big but it has a park feel to it. There are several ice cream shops right off the lake and it is a wonderful place to people watch. There is also a pagoda in the center of the lake.

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  • victorwkf's Profile Photo

    Hoan Kiem Lake: Ngoc Son Temple (Part 4)

    by victorwkf Written Mar 2, 2007

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    Ngoc Son Temple at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
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    After crossing the famous red-coloured Rising Sun Bridge Bridge (The Huc), you will reach the Ngo Son Temple (Den Ngoc Son) located on a small island at Hoan Kiem Lake. This temple is also known as the Temple of the Jade Mound and it opens daily from 8am to 6pm (admission is about 10,000 vietnamese dong per person). This temple is associated with Tran Hung Dao, the general who defeated the Mongols at the Bach Dang River in 1279. Other than the temple's architecture, the entrance of the temple is also very impressive as shown in the photos here. The view of Hoan Kiem Lake and surroundings from the temple is also very beautiful.

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  • victorwkf's Profile Photo

    Hoan Kiem Lake: Rising Sun Bridge (Part 3)

    by victorwkf Written Mar 2, 2007

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    Rising Sun Bridge at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi,Vietnam
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    The Rising Sun Bridge (The Huc) is a beautifully arched, red coloured wooden bridge leading to the Ngoc Son Temple on an island at Hoan Kiem Lake. This bridge is perhaps one of the most famous and photographed bridge in Vietnam and not to be missed when you are at Hanoi. Part 4 will touch on the Ngoc Son Temple.

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    Hoan Kiem Lake: Tortoise Tower (Part 2)

    by victorwkf Written Mar 2, 2007

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    The Tortoise Tower at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
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    The Tortoise Tower (Thap Rua) is a three-tiered tower located at the southern part of Hanoi's famous Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of Restored Sword) on a small island, and it is dedicated to the mythical tortoise of the legend of Hoan Kiem Lake as mentioned in part 1 of this tip. Part 3 and 4 of this tip will touch on the famoys Rising Sun Bridge (The Huc) and Ngoc Son Temple (Den Nogc Son) located at this lake.

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  • victorwkf's Profile Photo

    Hoan Kiem Lake: The Legend (Part 1)

    by victorwkf Written Mar 2, 2007

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    Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam
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    Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of Restored Sword) is a famous landmark in Hanoi and a centre of the city. There is an interesting legend behind this lake. Apparently in the 15th century, Emperor Le Thai To of Vietnam was supposedly handed a magic sword by a divine tortoise living in the lake, thus helping him to repel invaders from China. After the country has been liberated, the tortoise snatched back the sword from the emperor and thus the lake is named "Lake of Restored Sword". This lake was once part of the nearby Red Riber (Song Hung) and a swamp, until the French drained the land in the 19th century thus forming this lake. There are several species of tortoise living in this lake, and you will sometimes see them on the water surface. The area surrounding the lake is very beautiful with flowers, trees, benches, paths etc where both locals and tourist relax. Please see part 2 of this tip.

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  • blanter's Profile Photo

    Hoan Kiem Lake

    by blanter Written Jan 30, 2007

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    Tortoise Tower
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    Just in the center of Hanoi, this lake contains two islands: one with the Ngoc Son Temple, another one (no access) with Tortoise Tower. The legend about a sword and a turtle, that gives the name to the lake, is found in every guidebook, and I will not repeat it here. The lake is fun to walk around: with the exception of the North end, the shore is very quiet and is a good contrast to downtown Hanoi. The Tortoise Tower is lighted nicely in the evening.

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