EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WEST LAKE HANOI


15 Jan 2021

West Lake (also known as Ho Tay – Tay Ho) is one of the most beautiful and famous landmarks in Hanoi capital. Having a serene and tranquil beauty, it can also be considered as an iconic place in the ancient Hanoi paintings which associated with many ups and downs of history, save many memories of the people. This fascinating and exotic charm lake would definitely be a proper choice for those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Table Contents
  • I - Overview about the West Lake Hanoi
  • 1 - History and origin of the name “Ho Tay”
  • 2 - The role of West Lake with Hanoians
  • 3 - How to get there?
  • II - Exploring West Lake Hanoi food
  • 1 - Shrimp cake
  • 2 - Bo Bia
  • 3 - Coconut Ice cream
  • 4 - Fresh spring roll
  • 5 - Simmered chicken
  • 6 - Coffee and sightseeing
  • III - Temples and Pagoda West Lake Hanoi
  • 1 - Tran Quoc Pagoda
  • 2 - Quan Thanh Temple
  • 3 - Van Nien Pagoda
  • 4 - West Lake Temple
  • 5 - Tao Sach Pagoda
  • IV - Wonderful activities to try when visiting West Lake
  • 1 - Exploring West Lake Water Park
  • 2 - Cycling around West Lake Hanoi
  • 3 - Sailing with swan pedalo
  • V - Restaurants near West Lake Hanoi
  • VI - Hotels near West Lake Hanoi
West Lake Hanoi title
Source: Hieu Tran

Located in the northwest of the city center, Tay Ho lake or West Lake is considered the biggest natural freshwater lake in Hanoi. It covers an area of ​​500 hectares with a shore length of 17 km (about 10.6 miles) and a circumference of 18 km. In the south side, Thuy Khue street is filled up with seafood restaurants, while to the east, along Xuan Dieu street there are a lot of restaurants, cafes, boutique and luxury hotels. A small part of this lake, divided by Thanh Nien (Co Ngu) road, is called Truc Bach Lake. Walking around the lake, having dinner at a floating restaurant or riding a bicycle along a pathway are some wonderful activities.

I - Overview about the West Lake Hanoi

1 - History and origin of the name “Ho Tay”

This lake is believed to exist since the Hung King period (2000 BC) and it was proven as a part of the old Red River after the process of accretion and accumulation. The history of the lake was also mentioned in many legends and folk tales and some of them had already resulted in its old names. One legend suggests that this lake was the battlefield between Lac Long Quan - one hero in Vietnamese legend - and a nine-tailed fox. After the fight, "Fox Corpse Swamp" (Đầm Xác Cáo) was named to commemorate this event. Another folk story believed that the original name of West Lake was "Golden Buffalo Lake" (Ho Kim Nguu). According to this story, it was formed after the struggle of a buffalo for the disappearance of her calf.


Old West Lake Hanoi

West Lake (Source: Internet)

Legend has it that when King Ly Thai To relocated the capital to Thang Long in the 11th century, Kim Ngu lake became a regular destination for the king to go boating. After several times sailing around the lake, the king was enchanted with the poetic and fanciful scene created by the misty atmosphere. Therefore, Dam Dam which means mist lake was named instead of Fox Corpse Swamp. In 1573, when King Le Thanh Tong ascended the throne its name was changed into West Lake. Furthermore, the lake is located on the West of the Imperial Citadel and the Old Quarter - the center of the ancient capital so this name has still been maintained until now.

2 - The role of West Lake with Hanoians

In cultural life
Hundreds of years ago, this lake has always been a favorable destination for royalty’s vacations. As a result, several summer homes along the lake had been built since the Ly and Tran dynasties (1010-1400). From that time, many famous villages appeared near the lake such as Nghi Tam village with special architecture of Kim Lien temple, Nhat Tan blossom flower village, Tu Tong village which is famous for mulberry planting & silkworm raising...Through several decades, some of the summer homes have been rebuilt and changed into shrines and temples which have become popular spỉitual sites of Hanoians visiting to pray for wealth, luck, and success.
In modern life

Fishing in West Lake Hanoi

Fishing West Lake (Source: Kenh14)

In recent years, the West Lake Hanoi is considered one of the most romantic corners of Hanoi where the fresh atmosphere makes a calm change from the chaos of the Old Quarter. Moreover, it is bordered with not only many of the city's top historical sites associated with the development history of the capital city, but also a bunch of stunning architectural gems, sizable lush gardens along with several entertainment venues and high-end hotels.  

3 - How to get there?

Since “Tay Ho” Hanoi is located in the North West of the inner city, it is not so far from many other well - known places such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. Therefore, visitors can flexibly travel to these famous Hanoi attractions then continue to walk to the lake at the end of Hung Vuong street, pass Phan Dinh Phung Street, and Hoang Hoa Tham - Thuy Khue Street to reach the lake. 
This area is also the intersection of a number of routes, thus, getting directly there by bus or taxi would not be a challenge. There are several buses passing the lake including bus number 13, 33, 50, and 70 ( Cost: 7.000 VND/ ticket ~ 0.3USD). Traveling by Taxi from Hanoi Old Quarters will take about 20 minutes (11.500 VND–17.500 VND/kilometer ~0,5-0.75).

II - Exploring West Lake Hanoi food

1 - Shrimp cake

Shrimp cake West Lake Hanoi

Shrimp cake West Lake (Source: Dauhomemade)

Since a long time ago, shrimp cakes have been mostly sold on Thanh Nien Street looking into this lake. Shrimps to make the dishes must be caught from West Lake, then, covered with wheat flour, potato, and shrimp patties. A perfect shrimp cake is crispy, sweet-smelling, and served with pickled vegetables and fish sauce. Sometimes, it can be served with salads and vermicelli. You can easily try it with the price about VND 75.000VND/dish (3.23USD) in Ho Tay lake’s surrounding area. 

2 - Bo Bia

If you walk along Thanh Nien Street, you will find several Bo Bia Keo Nha stalls all spaced out evenly on both sides of the road. To try this snack, just place your order and it will be made on the spot with an extremely favorable price - 10,000 VND (nearly 0.5$). 
Although Bo Bia sounded and looked similar to popiah from Malaysia because they both had the same skin, this Vietnamese snack was actually a sweet roll. Crunchy sugarcane, shredded coconut, and black sesame seeds are combined together to create a perfect light snack for visitors.

3 - Coconut Ice cream

Around the bank of West Lake Hanoi, there are a lot of coconut ice cream parlors so visitors can easily enjoy this special ice cream. The combination of the coolness of the cream, the coconut flesh, and the fruit syrup can make your day perfectly. Tourists can try this dish in 11 Thanh Nien street, with the price: from 20.000VND/dish (~0.86USD)

4 - Fresh spring roll

 

Spring roll West Lake Hanoi

Fresh spring roll (Source: Pete Nguyen)

There are a lot of restaurants which are famous for fresh spring rolls around here. To make fresh spring roll, the chef uses soft cooked rice paper sheets which have a similar thickness as Pho noodle to wrap around aromatic herbs, fried minced beef, and pepper. This local specialty is used to be served with a fish dipping sauce including sauce, garlic, seasoning, sliced carrots, green papaya, rice vinegar, a little lime juice, sugar, garlic and chili. 

5 - Simmered chicken

Simmered chicken did not originate from the lake like those specialties mentioned before but it's the most suitable place to enjoy this dish in Hanoi. Enjoying steaming simmered chicken in a cool and fresh atmosphere such as the lake surrounding area might be an amazing experience. Around the West Lake area of Hanoi, there are a number of restaurants serving this dish with only  25.000-35.000 VND (around 1-2$).

6 - Coffee and sightseeing

 

Coffee Tay Ho Hanoi

Enjoying coffee at West Lake (Source: Toa Heftiba)

One of the reasons that make Tay Ho Hanoi a perfect shelter from the hurried lifestyle of Hanoi is a bunch of peaceful and romance coffee shops around it such as Maison de Tet Décor, Maison de Blanc, LeMarz Coffee Roastery, 6 Degrees and so on. The picturesque scene and the romantic atmosphere of these coffee shops will definitely satisfy the visitor's needs. Enjoying a book, talking to friends, or just watching the surrounding scene for hours can help to calm and refresh your soul. 

III - Temples and Pagoda West Lake Hanoi

1 - Tran Quoc Pagoda

 

Tran Quoc Pagoda West Lake Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda (Source: Vnexpres)

What could not be missed when visiting this lake is Vietnam’s oldest pagoda - Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is now located on an islet within the lake. Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s ancient Four Sacred Temples built during the reign of King Ly Thai To from 1010 to 1028, is respectfully considered as a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. Its solemn beauty was honored as one of the 16 most beautiful pagodas in the world voted by The Daily Mail (UK). While most visitors come there for sight seeing and learning about Vietnamese culture, locals often head to Quan Thanh Temple to pray for health, luck, and happiness.
- Location: Thanh Nien street, Tay Ho district, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 8:00 am – 16:00 pm every day
- Entrance ticket: Free

2 - Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh is a temple that is located on Thanh Nien street - near West Lake Vietnam. Legend has it that, to protect the ancient Hanoi from the bad spirits, the locals decided to build four sacred temples due to four wind directions of the city and Quan Thanh temple (built during the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225)) is the protector of the North. While the others are Bach Ma temple (in the East), Kim Lien temple (in the South), and Voi Phuc temple (in the West). Quan Thanh Temple dedicated to ‘Tran Vo’ - the deity defending the north who was beloved by all local Taoists and used the tortoise and snake as symbols of power. The most significant masterpiece of this temple is the four-meter tall bronze statue of Tran Vu holding a snake and tortoise.  
- Location: Thanh Nien street, Tay Ho district, Hanoi
- Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 17:00 pm every day
- Entrance Fee: 10.000 VND (~0.5$)/person

3 - Van Nien Pagoda

 

Van Nien West Lake

Van Nien Pagoda (Source: Internet)

This pagoda near West Lake Vietnam was built to worship Buddha and Princess Lieu Hanh. This one-thousand-year-old pagoda was constructed in the 2nd year of Thuan Thien under the Ly Dynasty, one year after King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long. For over 1,000 years of history with many ups and downs and events, Van Nien Pagoda has its architecture affected significantly by the Nguyen Dynasty ’s style such as a triple gate, the front hall, main hall, and a Temple of Goddess. 
Especially, this pagoda houses an overwhelming set of valuable artifacts and art history compared to other the oldest ones in Hanoi including 26 statues of Buddha, 20 statues & group form; 11 ordained direction of Le and Tay Son Dynasty; two simultaneous bells Nguyen and much other church furniture. Notably, there is a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni Myanmar jade rare which has 1.3 m height and 600 kg weight. 
- Location: Lac Long Quan street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
- Phone number: 024 3836 3055

4 - West Lake Temple

Situated on a small peninsula on the lake (now in Quang An ward, Tay Ho district), Old folk tale has it that the Temple was built as early as around the seventeenth century. This temple is dedicated to Princess Lieu Hanh grandmother, a talented woman, good folk music, poetry, and virtue who had been conferred many times by the kings of the dynasties from Le to Nguyen as “The Model Mother under Heaven - The Mother of the Whole People”

5 - Tao Sach Pagoda

 

Tao Sach Pagoda West Lake

Tao Sach Pagoda (Source: Minh Hieu)

Due to an old legend, Tao Sach Pagoda was built in the reign of King Tran Thanh Tong to honor Prince Linh Lang, who considerably contributed to war defending Vietnam from Mongolian invaders. This place was also where the prince used to live, read books, and enjoy martial arts as well.
Tao Sach pagoda is one of very few ancient pagodas that still preserves the old and dignified values of Buddhism of Hanoi including a triple gate, contemplation rooms, and other religious constructions. Besides, tourists can take a look at various Han Nom documents and priceless relics such as 29 epitaphs mostly erected in the 16th year of Bao Dai era (1941), more than 40 statues of Buddha and Mother Goddesses bearing the art style of the 19th - 20th centuries, and 3 statues of "Tam The" made in the late 18th century. 
- Location: 386 Lac Long Quan street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi. 

IV - Wonderful activities to try when visiting West Lake

1 - Exploring West Lake Water Park

West Lake Water Park covers more than 35,500 square meters and is designed following inspiration from the gorgeous city of Santorini in Greece. The park consists of dozens of games for both youngsters, children and even adults varying from thrilling games namely high-speed train, games for kids such as driving carts, bubble houses or bumping cars. 
Opening time: Monday – Friday from 8:00 to 20.00 
Weekend and holidays from 7:30 to 22.00 
Entrance fee:
- Children below 0.9 meters: free
- Children from 0.9 – 1,35 meters:  $5 before 17:00 o’clock in weekday; $6 in weekends and holidays
- Adults over 1.35 meters: ~ $6.50 before 17:00 o’clock in weekdays; $7 in weekends and holidays: 
- After 17:00 o’clock the ticket is ~ $4.50 for all people from all ages.

2 - Cycling around West Lake Hanoi

Cycling around West Lake Hanoi

Source: Udicwestlake

Cycling around the lake is one of the most wonderful activities here. Every single morning and afternoon, you can see a number of people exercising and relaxing on their bikes while touring around the serene lake. There are a bunch of bicycle rental shops along surrounding streets with rent costs of about 50000 VND/ 2 hours (~2$).

3 - Sailing with swan pedalo

Go boating around the lake might be a perfect choice for one who wants to contemplate from a different angle especially for couples seeking a private and romantic atmosphere there. 
- Address: Thanh Nien street, Tay Ho district, Hanoi
- Price: 80.000VND (3.4USD)/hour

V - Restaurants near West Lake Hanoi

Restaurants near West Lake Hanoi

Ming Restaurant (Source: Tripadvisor)

1 - Ming Restaurant

- Address: 1 Thanh Nien road, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi.

- Cuisines: Asian, Chinese

- Meals: Lunch, Dinner

- Features: Reservations, Buffet, Seating, Parking Available, Serves Alcohol, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Table Service, Wheelchair Accessible, Accepts Credit Cards

- Special diets: Vegetarian Friendly

2 - Pho Cuon Huong Mai

- Address: 25 Ngu Xa Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam

- Price range: $4 - $10

- Cuisines: Asian, Vietnamese

- Meals: Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Brunch

Features: Delivery, Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Parking Available, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Television, Cash Only, Free Wifi, Validated Parking, Valet Parking, Wine and Beer, Table Service, Serves Alcohol

3 - Banh tom Ho Tay  - “Best restaurants West Lake Hanoi with the Shrimp cake dish”

- Address: 1 Thanh Nien, Trúc Bạch, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi Vietnam

- Cuisines: Seafood, Vietnamese, Asian

- Meals: Lunch, Dinner

- Features: Outdoor Seating, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Table Service

4 - Chopsticks

- Address: 15 Dao Duy Tu, Hanoi, Vietnam

- Price range: $7 - $30

- Special diets: Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options

- Cuisines: Vietnamese, Asian, Healthy

- Meals: Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night, Drinks

- Features: Delivery, Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi, Accepts Credit Cards, Table Service, Live Music

5 - Loving Hut

- Address: 192/4, Quan Thanh Street Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam

- Cuisines: Asian, Vietnamese

- Special diets: Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options

- Meals: Lunch, Dinner

VI - Hotels near West Lake Hanoi

Cycling around West Lake Hanoi

Somerset West Point Hanoi/Source: Booking

1 - Somerset West Point Hanoi

- Address: No.2 Tay Ho Road, Hanoi, Vietnam

- Price: from 1.835.426 VND

- Services: 284 smoke-free apartments, Daily housekeeping, 2 restaurants and bar/lounge, Outdoor pool, Free children's club, Free area shuttle, 24-hour fitness center, Airport shuttle, 24-hour front desk, Laundry service, Concierge services, Luggage storage, Free WiFi and free parking, Free cribs/infant beds, Children's pool, Playground on site, Children's club (free), Kitchen

2 - InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

- Address: 5 Tu Hoa, Hanoi, Vietnam

- Price: from 2.412.592 VND

- Services: 318 guestrooms, Daily housekeeping, 3 restaurants and 3 bars/lounges, Outdoor pool, Breakfast available, 24-hour health club, Conference center, Airport shuttle, Terrace, 24-hour front desk, Coffee/tea in a common area, Air conditioning, Free WiFi and free parking, Free cribs/infant beds, Children's pool, Rollaway/extra beds (surcharge), Private bathroom, Premium TV channels, Free toiletries

3 - Pan Pacific Hanoi
- Address: 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
- Price: from 2.042.120 VND
- Services: 273 guestrooms, Daily housekeeping, 2 restaurants and 2 bars/lounges, Full-service spa, Indoor pool, Rooftop terrace, Breakfast available, 24-hour fitness center, Conference center, Airport shuttle, Childcare, 24-hour front desk, Free WiFi and free parking, Babysitting or childcare (surcharge), Supervised childcare/activities (surcharge), Rollaway/extra beds (surcharge), Connecting/adjoining room, Private bathroom, Free toiletries

4 - West Lake Home Hotel & Spa

- Address: 156 Yen Phu Street, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam

- Price: from 1.275.658 VND

- Services: 36 smoke-free guestrooms, Daily housekeeping, Restaurant, Free use of bicycles, Business center, Airport pick-up service, Childcare, Terrace, 24-hour front desk, Computer station, Front desk safe, Laundry service, Free WiFi and free parking, Babysitting or childcare (surcharge), Refrigerator, Private bathroom, Free toiletries, Daily housekeeping

5 - Somerset West Lake Hanoi

- Address: 254d Thuy Khue Road, Hanoi,  Vietnam

- Price: from 1.234.366  VND

- Services: 90 smoke-free apartments, Daily housekeeping, Restaurant, Outdoor pool, Free area shuttle, Fitness center, Airport shuttle, Childcare, Terrace, 24-hour front desk, Garden, Computer station, Free WiFi and free parking, Free cribs/infant beds, Children's pool, Playground on site, Babysitting or childcare (surcharge, Children's club (surcharge), Rollaway/extra beds (surcharge).

Restaurants near West Lake Hanoi

Beautiful view of West Lake (Source: Kien Trung)

West Lake Hanoi map


It is a great pity that tourists come to Hanoi without walking around West Lake. This lake not only satisfies tourists by the romantic sunset scene but also reminds visitors forever by its unique dishes and unforgettable flavors.

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Hi, my name is Quan, and you can call me “Kun”. Having a big passion for travel, I spent 6 months traveling to most of the regions & provinces in Vietnam. I find Vietnam's landscapes are so beautiful, Vietnamese people are so friendly.

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