Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the best places to go in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the best places to go in Hanoi

As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is home to a large number of must-see attractions. However, you cannot say that you have been in Hanoi until you visit Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is considered as one of the best places to go when you visit Hanoi. With its peace and beauty, Hanoi tourists and the local usually go to Hoan Kiem Lake when seeking a place to get away from the noise of the city.

Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the best places to go in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the best places to go in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake is a central feature of Hanoi and is a popular place to go throughout the day with locals and tourists. This historic lake is the site of a foundational legend for Vietnam: Hoan Kiem Lake means “Lake of the Returned Sword”, alluding to a legend in Vietnamese history. The legend is about that Le Loi King came across a shining metal bar when he visited his friend. It turned out that his friend caught the bar in one of his attempts for fish. The King asked for the bar, brought it home and moulded it into a sword. All of a sudden, there were two words printed on the sword “Thuan Thien” (harmonious with heaven). Then Le Loi understood that the sword was a gift from heaven. He used it to drive the Chinese out of Vietnam. At the beginning of 1428, when peace prevailed, on one of his trip to the Thuy Quan (now Hoan Kiem) Lake, there was a tortoise rising above water and shouting: “Please return the sword to the Dragon King”. Without hesitation, the King threw the sword to the lake. The tortoise took the sword and dove down the water. From then on, Thuy Quan became Hoan Kiem Lake. Travel Indochina

A graceful, red-painted wooden bridge leads from the lakeside to Ngoc Son Temple

A graceful, red-painted wooden bridge leads from the lakeside to Ngoc Son Temple

Nowadays, Hoan Kiem Lake is a charming social and cultural center for Hanoi citizens. The lakeside is a popular stop for couples’ wedding photos and fitness buffs’ morning workouts. A graceful, red-painted wooden bridge leads from the lakeside to Ngoc Son Temple, where devotees continue to perform their religious duties as they have been doing so for almost a thousand years. Ngoc Son Temple was built in the 18th century on Jade Island in the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake. Legend describes how an emperor was once given a magical sword which helped him defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty and in doing so saw the return of the Golden Turtle God to the lake. Today, Turtle Tower stands close to the lake in memory of this legend. Vietnam travel tours

Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake

Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake

The lake is special not only in its history but also in its water color. The water color of Hoan Kiem Lake is not commonly found in other lakes elsewhere in the country: greenish, with dark or light shade depending on the reflection of the sky. The lake is full of tortoise, which is second to none to be found among Vietnamese lakes. If you are lucky, you will catch sight of these giant animals rising out of water because tortoise is considered a sacred animal in Vietnam’s culture.

Lines and lines of the elders and teenagers do exercise in Hoan Kiem Lake in the morning

Lines and lines of the elders and teenagers do exercise in Hoan Kiem Lake in the morning

Visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, you should wake up early in the morning, at about 5 a.m, you will see lines and lines of the elders and teenagers doing anything from yoga to Tai Chi to aerobics. It looks as if the whole city was up and running for morning exercise. They work out in group or by themselves, with or without equipment. In this moment, you will feel peace and freshness of Hanoi in a morning, which is definitely different from bustle and the noise that you usually see in Hanoi capital.

Hoan Kiem Lake offers plenty of trees and shaded spots in which to escape the busy city streets. With peace, many beautiful landscapes surrounding and nearby historical monuments, Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the best places to go for almost tourists in Hanoi. The more you spend time learning about the lake, the more you love it and understand about Vietnamese culture as well as history.

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