Hoan Kiem lake is located in the heart of Hanoi capital, surrounded by 3 streets of Hang Khay - Le Thai To and Dinh Tien Hoang. With a prime location, the trade connection between the old quarter is also the place to converge and organize many big programs.
This lake is an ideal, brilliant rendezvous with festivals in the windy spring before the summer comes followed by the charming autumn with gentle drizzles, and also in the cold winter. This is a place that attracts a lot of tourists to visit and explore in Hanoi
1 - Hoan Kiem Lake legend
The lake has existed for a few thousand years with a long history. There were some other names such as: Lsuc Thuy Lake (Blue Lake) or Thuy Quan Lake - Marine Lake (because the court is used as a parade ground). An interesting story was told, that by the early 15th century the lake was renamed Hoan Kiem (returning the sword) associated with the return of the golden sword for the golden turtle of King Le Thai To. Nowadays, the Hoan Kiem lake turtle has become the representative of Hanoians.
By the end of the sixteenth century, Lord Trinh let the lake be divided into two parts Ta Vong and Huu Vong. By 1884, Huu Vong was filled by the French to expand the capital, and Ta Vong lake was retained as Hoan Kiem today.
2 - The surrounding landscape
When viewed from above, the lake is like a colorful picture as the lake is surrounded by purple Giant Crape-myrtles with red flowers of the Royal poinciana. The road running around the lake is a place for people to go walking and watch fireworks on the big holidays of the year.
Source: Peter Borter
The scenery around the lake is adorned with many historical monuments such as Hoan Kiem lake bridge - The Huc bridge, Turtle tower, Ngoc Son temple, But tower, monument of King Ly Thai To. Busy streets under rows of green trees and newly built works ensure the harmony of the landscape for the lake.
3 - Best way to get to the lake
You can get the best view of the lake by walking on foot or sitting on a cyclo to enjoy everything to the fullest.
- If you are a tourist staying at hotels in the Old Quarter area, it just takes a few steps away to see the beautiful tourist destinations such as Sword Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, the Opera house.
- Cyclo: this is a great way to stroll around the lake, see all the sceneries and feel the local life vibe. To avoid being ripped off, you should try to make a good bargain with the cyclo drivers before starting a short ride around Hoan Kiem Lake
- Motorbike: For those who are keen on driving and exploring by their own way, renting a scooter and freely riding to anywhere might be the best part of your trip here. Scooter renting fee in Hanoi is about 100,000 - 200,000 VND (4,4 - 8,8USD) / day.
- Electric cars: The 8-seat electric cars are highly recommended for group, or family. The drivers will take you through 13 old streets, some pagodas and famous monuments around the Lake. Operating time is from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm daily with the average price of under 1$ per person for 45 minutes of each trip.
4 - Interesting things to do here
- Walking around the lake for fresh air in the early morning, you can see a lot of people do exercise or Tai Chi. You should not miss visiting Hoan Kiem Lake at night on weekends when the streets around the lake are full of interesting activities from folk games or traditional art performances, hundreds of locals and tourists being together for fun.
- Cyclo riding around the lake is an interesting experience you can leisurely look at everything around and also listen to cyclo drivers tell interesting stories about the lake’s history.
- If traveling here in the new year celebrating time, spending time in the Countdown at Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc square located right next to the lake is a great idea. This is an opportunity for everyone to gather, have fun and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
5 - Some hotels near Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi
Aquarius Legend Hotel - 3 stars standard
- Address: 90B Nguyen Huu Huan, Hanoi
- Room rate: 57.45USD
Aquarius Legend Hotel Hotel is located in the Old Quarter area, the center of the capital which is only 0.42km (about 2 minutes of walk) from the lake. With a good location, you can easily go downtown for sightseeing, dining and shopping or get to water puppet theater, Dong Xuan market, the Opera House, etc.
Thaison Palace Hotel - 3 stars standard
- Address: No. 9, Hang Voi, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Room rate: 55.13 USD
Thaison Palace Hotel is located at No.9 Hang Voi, just 0.4 km from Hoan Kiem lake. Good staying place for travelers. The hotel provides all kinds of services like massage and spa or entertainment
activities and delicious meals at restaurants. Free morning buffet is gratefully offered to guests.
Spring Flower Hotel - 3 stars standard
- Address: 45 Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Room rate: 50.44 USD
Spring Flower Hotel is located in the Old Quarter area, 0.6 km from the lake. It is very convenient for tourists to go to places such as Vietnam History Museum, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum and One Pillar Pagoda.
Angel Palace Hotel - 3 stars standard
- Address: 173 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Room rate: 34.48 USD/ night
Angel Palace Hotel is located in Hoan Kiem district. It is an ideal place to explore Hanoi old quarter area and surrounding tourist destinations such as the city's southern gate, Hoa Lo prison. Guests are also served a daily buffet breakfast with both Western and Asian dishes.
6 - Some restaurants near Hoan Kiem Lake
Good food always is the main highlight that defines the long-lasting experience of a traveling trip. Hanoi, a hub of food and drink in Vietnam, there are thousands of food stalls and great restaurants for having excellent meals. Here are some restaurants in Hanoi for local and vegetarian foods.
- Address: 35 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 9am - 10pm
- Price: 10,000 - 400,000 VND (0,43 - 17 USD)
In Hanoi, if you want to enjoy the typical Central cuisine dishes, Vi Quang will be one of the best restaurants near Hoan Kiem Lake for some specialties such as Quang noodles, grilled fish, Khot cake.
Tam’s Vegetarian rice
- Address: 79A Tran Hung Dao str, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 10am - 9pm
- Price: 80,000 - 120,000 VND (0,43 - 17 USD)
For vegetarians, this will be an ideal eating place. Tam’s vegetarian rice has an impressively diverse menu with corn soup, soys, beef wrapped in guise leaves, snowball flowers, fried sweet potatoes, coconut salad ... with reasonable prices. Along with that is a spacious, quiet space to allow you to enjoy the dish to the fullest.
Dong Mon Bistro
- Address: No. 55 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 10am - 10pm
- Price: 200,000 - 500,000 VND
Dong Mon Bistro Restaurant impresses customers with its luxurious French style and traditional Vietnamese dishes from the nineteenth century, combined with famous French and Italian dishes.
7 - Famous places around the lake
Ngoc Son Temple or Hoan Kiem Lake temple is connected to the bank by a small bridge, which they call The Huc Bridge. Bridge shape is a shrimp with a distinctive red color, wooden material with durability that is not degraded over time.
Ngoc Son Temple is a sacred temple of Hanoi city, representing the beliefs of the locals. Every year, Ngoc Son Temple welcomes thousands of tourists, they come here to visit and pray for blessings.
The most vibrant and exciting area in Hanoi is the Hoan Kiem lake walking streets. This is an ideal place for residents and tourists for every weekend at around 7pm on Saturday and Sunday. When the street lights go on, it is crowded with lots of cultural and artistic activities, folk games, and vibrant entertainment areas for young people.
Next to the Lake is the old quarter with Hang Dao, Hang Than, Hang Bong, Hang Ma street. Everybody can visit the old streets with many long-standing architectures.
8 - What to shop around Hoan Kiem Lake
After sightseeing and enjoying food, you can walk around and look for a few small souvenirs, crafts, clothes, shoes ... in the streets such as Hang Dao, Hang Ma, Hang Bac, Dong Xuan markets.
Thuy An Art - Lacquer: specializing in lanterns and handicrafts - 71 Hang Trong , Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
Quoc Anh Shop: specializing in fine arts, lacquer, silk paintings, silk - 30 Hang Trong, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
Sen - handmade high quality: specializing in handicrafts, bags, baskets, souvenirs - 65 Hang Trong, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
9 - Suggested schedule to discover the Lake
If you want to visit and explore Sword Lake and the old quarter area but do not know where to start, check out the suggestions below for a great schedule:
One day trip around Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi and Old Quarter experience:
8:00: Get started at Dong Xuan alley on Hang Chieu Street for breakfast with some dishes such as Bun Oc, Bun Rieu, Pho noodle soup.
8h30: Check in Dong Xuan market for some local product and items (no need to go through it all, visiting the first floor is enough)
9:00 AM: Walk to O Quan Chuong, take photos and check in at the only remaining gate of the old city.
9h30: Continue to Bach Ma temple. When you finish the morning trip, it will be about 11h00 and you can have lunch with Bun Cha dish at a restaurant in Hang Buom street (Not so far away from Ma May street)
10:15: Go to Ma May street to visit the old house at the number 87 (cost you 10,000VND for entrance fee). The Nola cafe nearby the old house is a good place for some drinks.
11:00 am: Drop by Kim Ngan Communal House at 42-44 Hang Bac Street. This is the worshiping place of the first jewelry crafters on Hang Bac street.
12h00: Lunch time comes, we recommend you to try Bun Dau Mam Tom - a typical dish in Vietnamese cuisine at Phat Loc restaurant. Bun Cha and other good food at the same alley are great options.
12h45: After lunch you can rest and relax at Short Cafe at 60 Phat Loc alley.
14h00: Afterwards, you can visit Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake.
15:00: Here you can also see the water puppets at Thang Long water puppet theater located next to Ngoc Son Temple.
16h00: Enjoy snails at Dinh Liet Street and local beer at Luong Ngoc Quyen - Ta Hien street.
19h00: For dinner, you can try stir-fried noodles at Nguyen Sieu Street, or Thang Long grilled fish at 21-31 Duong Thanh Street.
20:00: Visit the Night market on Hang Ngang and Hang Dao streets. You can also visit the walking street around the Lake, with folk games and singing activities or you can have some coffee with panoramic views at coffee shops around the lake.
Above is the introduction to Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi, there are still many interesting things to discover, perhaps you have to return many times to be able to see all the attractions of this place. A perfect destination, imbued with national identity that you definitely cannot ignore.