When anyone come to Hanoi, everyone wants to visit Hoan Kiem Lake at least once. It’s not just a place tied to the legend of King Le Loi returning the sacred sword to the Turtle Deity but also the heart of the capital. Stopping here, travelers can enjoy the peaceful scenery amidst the busy streets, learn more about the local people, and discover unique cultural aspects and historical stories of Hanoi. So, in this article, we’ll introduce Hoan Kiem Lake and its surroundings so that visitors can get a good understanding of this destination.
The History of Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake, formerly known as Luc Thuy Lake due to its characteristic emerald green water, was also referred to as Thuy Quan Lake as it was a venue for royal military parades.
In the late 15th century, the lake was renamed Hoan Kiem, also known as Sword Lake, associated with the legend of the Sword Restoration. According to the tale, King Le Loi returned the magic sword to the Golden Turtle.
In the late 16th century, Lord Trinh divided Hoan Kiem Lake into two parts, named Tả Vọng and Hữu Vọng. In 1884, during the French colonial invasion, Hữu Vọng was filled in to expand the capital, leaving only Tả Vọng.
Despite several name changes, people are accustomed to calling it Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake.
Guide to Getting to Hoan Kiem Lake
Located in Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, at the central position, visitors can easily travel to Hoan Kiem Lake using various means of transportation.
Travelers can opt for ride-hailing applications to be quickly and safely transported. Alternatively, taking buses like 04, 08, 09, 11, 14, 18, 23, 31, 34, 36, 40, among others, is a cost-effective choice that allows more time to admire the city.
If you are staying in Hanoi Old Quarter area, that’s just a short distance to visit Hoan Kiem lake and the area surrounding.
Upon arrival at the lake, visitors can choose to stroll around the lake to explore the surrounding landmarks, enjoying the fresh and lively atmosphere in the heart of the capital. Additionally, hiring a cyclo for a leisurely city tour is a charming option. Electric bikes are also an ideal choice for a more comprehensive exploration of the tourist’s journey.
Explore Highlighted Spots Around Hoan Kiem Lake
Besides the tranquil natural scenery, around Hoan Kiem Lake, there are numerous famous historical landmarks and structures for visitors to experience and explore, including:
1. Turtle Tower
Located on Turtle Island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, Turtle Tower is designed as a three-story tower with numerous windows and balconies on the upper floor. The image of Turtle Tower and Hoan Kiem Lake has become an iconic symbol of the capital’s residents, appearing in numerous musical compositions, poems, and paintings.
2. Ngoc Son Temple
Constructed in 1841, Ngoc Son Temple is dedicated to Van Xuong De Quan and Hung Dao Vuong, representing Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism during feudal times. Visitors can explore the temple, admire the Pen Tower, the Ink Slab, and the Thê Húc Bridge.
3. Ba Kieu Temple
Ba Kieu Temple, located on Dinh Tien Hoang Street near Hoan Kiem Lake, has a history dating back to the Le Trung Hung period. This venerable site is dedicated to Princess Lieu Hanh, Que Hoa, and Quynh Hoa, symbolizing the cultural, spiritual, and religious values cherished by the people of Hanoi and its visitors.
4. Hoa Phong Tower
Adjacent to the eastern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake is Hoa Phong Tower, a rare relic remaining from the Bao An Pagoda, destroyed by the French colonialists to build the post office. With its preserved ancient beauty, Hoa Phong Tower bears witness to history, representing the cultural and artistic beauty of ancestors throughout history. It has become an ideal stop for many tourists to check-in when visiting Hoan Kiem Lake.
5. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
A must-visit destination near Hoan Kiem Lake is the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, where visitors can enjoy the traditional art of water puppetry, deeply rooted in the ancient culture of Northern Vietnam. Through performances, visitors can gain a better understanding of the cultural and traditional values of the Vietnamese people, appreciating the talent of the artists.
6. Temple of King Ly Thai To
The Temple of King Ly Thai To, situated to the west of Hoan Kiem Lake and in proximity to the Nam Huong Temple, is dedicated to King Ly Thai To, the inaugural ruler of the Ly Dynasty. This temple stands as a tribute to King Ly’s significant contributions in safeguarding and constructing the nation.
7. Ly Thai To Statue
From Hoan Kiem Lake, visitors can head to Ly Thai To Flower Garden on Dinh Tien Hoang Street to see the statue of King Ly Thai To, crafted from a single bronze block. Standing in front of the statue, visitors are transported back to the history of relocating the capital in 1010. This location also frequently hosts cultural activities and important events in Hanoi during significant occasions.
8. Quyet Tu Memorial
The Quyet Tu Memorial stands as a powerful tribute, featuring a poignant statue that encapsulates the indomitable spirit of the people of Hanoi during the resistance against the French. The statue portrays a courageous national defense soldier standing alongside a young woman elegantly clad in the traditional ao dai attire, symbolizing the resilience and unity of the people. Additionally, a sturdy male worker, ready for battle, completes the ensemble, embodying the collective strength and determination of both the military and civilians in the capital. This memorial serves as a solemn reminder of the bravery and unwavering commitment of the community during a pivotal historical period.
In addition to the mentioned locations, visitors can explore many other interesting places around Hoan Kiem Lake. Notable spots like the Hanoi Opera House, Trang Tien Plaza, Dinh Le Street, and the Old Quarter are worth a visit. Enjoying famous local dishes such as Trang Tien ice cream, Bun Cha on Hang Quat Street, Bun Thang at Cau Go Street, and coffee at Dinh Street is highly recommended.
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