Hoan Kiem Lake - A must see attraction in Hanoi

Last updated - January 27, 2024
Hoan Kiem Lake - A must see attraction in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as the Restored Sword Lake, is renowned for its serene beauty, rich cultural heritage, and historical significance. With its tranquil ambiance and picturesque surroundings, it stands as a must-visit destination that should be included in your itinerary.

The lake encapsulates the essence of Hanoi's charm, offering visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in its captivating atmosphere and experience its cultural and historical treasures.

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Location and overview of Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the heart of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, occupies a central location. If your hotel is located in Hanoi Old Quarter, you will find the lake in close proximity towards the southern direction. Its convenient position allows for easy access and exploration, making it a desirable attraction for visitors staying in the bustling and historic Old Quarter of Hanoi.

Hoan Kiem Lake location

The east and the north are surrounded by Dinh Tien Hoang street. The west is Le Thai To street and the south is Hang Khay street.

In the past, particularly during the period of French colonial rule, significant land reclamation efforts were undertaken, resulting in the expansion of Hanoi City and the alteration of Hoan Kiem Lake's original configuration. Presently, the lake spans an area of approximately 120,000 square meters, with a maximum length of 700 meters and a maximum width of 250 meters. The average depth of the lake ranges from 1.5 to 2 meters.

In the center of Hoan Kiem Lake, there stands a magnificent tower known as Turtle Tower. It serves as a symbol of the lake's allure.

Turtle Tower at night time

Spanning the lake's expanse, a vibrant red bridge named "The Huc" adds a striking contrast to the surrounding scenery. This iconic bridge connects the lake's shores and invites visitors to Ngoc Son temple located on a small island in the lake.

The Legendary of Hoan Kiem Lake

The lake, known as Hoan Kiem or Restored Sword Lake, derives its name from a captivating legend entailing revered heroes, a magnificent turtle, and a mystical sword.

In this tale, King Le Loi of Vietnam encountered a shimmering metal bar while visiting a friend, who had caught it while fishing. Intrigued, the king asked for the bar and transformed it into a sword adorned with the inscription "Thuan Thien," meaning "harmonious with heaven."

Believing the sword to be a divine gift, King Le Loi wielded it during his battle against the occupying Ming army, leading his forces to victory. Subsequently, while enjoying a leisurely boat ride on the lake, his tranquility was interrupted by the emergence of a colossal golden turtle.

The turtle, believed to be the Dragon King, requested the return of the sword. Without hesitation, the king relinquished the precious sword to the turtle. To commemorate this extraordinary event, the lake's former name, Luc Thuy, meaning "Green water," was changed to Hoan Kiem Lake meaning Restored Sword Lake.

What to do in Hoan Kiem Lake ?

Walking around the Lake

This is a wonderful experience. This activity will not only be good for health but also a chance to visit the local life around the lake as well as enjoy the beauty of the lake surrounded by a lot of ancient trees and flowers.

Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake

Morning exercise or Tai Chi

Get up early, between 5 am and 6 am, to partake in invigorating exercise and lively dancing amidst the refreshing morning air. Each day, a vibrant community of local residents gathers at Hoan Kiem Lake, engaging in a variety of exercises such as yoga, aerobics, and tai chi.

Morning exersise

By participating in these vibrant morning routines, not only will you energize your body, but you will also create lasting memories and forge connections with the local community.

Taking photos

Hoan Kiem Lake is an exceptional destination for photography enthusiasts, offering an abundance of picturesque spots that can help you capture stunning masterpieces.
From the vantage point of Turtle Tower and the vibrant Red Bridge to the majestic ancient trees adorning the lake's surroundings, the opportunities for breathtaking photographs are endless.

Hoan Kiem Lake is an ideal place for great photo shootings

When visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, be sure to bring your camera to seize the enchanting beauty and preserve the captivating moments that await you. Don't miss the chance to create unforgettable images and memories at this remarkable location.

Enjoying the entertainments show at the weekend

Every weekend, from Saturday to Sunday, the streets encircling Hoan Kiem Lake are transformed into walking streets, creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere. During this time, an array of entertaining activities await, offering opportunities for people to participate and engage in traditional games, dancing, singing, and more.

Enjoying entertainments at Hoan Kiem Lake in the weekend

Immerse yourself in the lively ambiance as you partake in these enjoyable pastimes, creating unforgettable memories in the heart of Hanoi.

What to see in Hoan Kiem Lake ?

Ngoc Son temple

Built in the 18th century. The temple is located on Jade island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake that can be seen from any side of the lake. The name Ngoc Son tempe means the temple of Jade Mountain.

Gate to Ngoc Son temple

Inside the temple, it is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a hero in Vietnam history who led the army to defeat the Mongolian enemy from the north in the 13 century. And there is a preserved specimen of a giant turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake.

The Huc wooden bridge

The name means the bridge where to absorb the morning sunlight. This bright red bridge was built by fine wood to connect to Ngoc Son temple and it is a symbol of Buddhist architecture and it has become a famous place for photographers.

The Huc bridge to Ngoc Son Temple

The entrance fee for Ngoc Son temple will be 30 000 VND including The Huc Bridge. Opening time from 8.00 AM to 6.00PM from Monday to Friday. and from 7.00 AM to 9.00PM on weekends.

Turtle tower

Situated in the heart of a serene lake, access to this magnificent structure has remained restricted to visitors. Built a century and a half ago, it served as a place for the King to relax and indulge in fishing. Today, it stands tall as a symbol of immense pride for the people of Hanoi.

Turtle Tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake

Water Puppet show

Right by the Hoan Kiem lake, at the The Huc bridge. There is a theather for Water Puppet Show. A captivating one-hour performance unfolds. This mesmerizing spectacle encompasses a series of 17 delightful short sketches, brought to life through the enchanting artistry of traditional puppets.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Water Puppetry as the air fills with the ethereal melodies of traditional Vietnamese instruments. Let the captivating tones of the Erhu, Flute, Zither, Monochord, and the soulful Cheo singing transport you to a realm of pure magic and wonder.

Water Puppet theatre which located by Hoan Kiem Lake

The show tickets are from 100 000 VND ($4.3) to 200000 VND ($8.6)
Show time: 13.45, 15.00, 16.10, 17.20, 18.30, 20.00 and 21.15

Best time to visit Hoan Kiem Lake ?

For a truly memorable experience, plan your visit to Hoan Kiem Lake during the idyllic middle of autumn, spanning from October to November.

During this period, Hanoi enjoys delightful weather, with a cool and pleasant ambiance, clear blue sky that beckons you to explore on foot.

Great weather in Hoan Kiem Lake

Other seasons also bring their own different beauty for Hoan Kiem Lake. From Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer.

Hoan Kiem Lake beauty in rainy day


Hoan Kiem Lake in winter

Hoan Kiem Lake in spring

Flamboyant flower by Hoan Kiem Lake in summer

Every season paints a unique picture around Hoan Kiem Lake, adorned with distinct trees and blossoms that amplify the tranquil, romantic, and poetic allure of this enchanting place.

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