Top Hanoi Attractions

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Vietnam, making it too crowded and chaotic. The Hoan Kiem Lake (meaning Lake of the Returned Sword in Vietnamese) is one of the few locations within the city, which offers an escapade from the deafening noises of Hanoi. Also referred as Hồ Gươm (Sword Lake), and the Lake of the Restored Sword – the place is one of the major scenic spots of Hanoi.

During the early hours of the day, you can glimpse the laid-back locals taking a breather before they jump back into their day jobs. During the weekends, the traffic is blocked from all sides – making the lake accessible for pedestrians and tourists. Surrounded in the area of 12 hectares, the place comes alive during the nighttime.

Key Highlights on Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi
• Address - Hang Trong, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam
• Opening time – the lake is open 24hrs to public seven days a week, however the Ngoc Son Temple opens up at 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.
• Why is it popular? – A scenic location close to Ngoc Son Pagoda.
• Best time to visit – On weekends after 7:00 pm.
• Entry fee – No entry fee for Hoan Kiem Lake, but tickets to Ngoc Son Pagoda might cost around VND30, 000.
• Nearby landmarks – Thap Ru Temple and Cau The Huc Pagoda.
• Nearest bus stop – Ngã 3 Lê Thái Tổ - Hàng Trống (1.3 km from the entry gate).
• Legends Associated with the Hoan Kiem Lake

According to the local legends, in the early 15th century the Emperor Le Loi was visited by a deity named Kim Qui (the Golden Turtle God). The deity commanded the king to return Heaven’s Will (a celestial sword) to the Dragon God. This mighty sword was believed to have been wielded by the King during his battle with the Ming Dynasty.

The king, on the divine summon, returned the sword to the Qui. To commemorate the divine visitation, the emperor renamed the lake as Hoan Kiem.

Popular Attractions of Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi Turtle Tower
Hanoi Turtle Tower

1. Turtle Tower

Also referred to as Thap Rua Tower, it is a small three storied pillar constructed on a small islet on the lake. The tower is built in the memory of the 15th century Emperor Le Loi, around whom the legend of Hoan Kiem Lake circulates. Although one of the most identified landmarks of the country, the entry to the tower is prohibited to the visitors. During the night time, the tower is illuminated with an elaborate lighting system – making it look divine.

2. The Huc Bridge

The striking crimson-colored bridge over the green lake is a beautiful sight during daybreak. Inspired by Vietnamese architecture, the bridge connects the Ngoc Son Temple to the main bank of the lake. Also referred as 'Bridge of the Rising Sun' or the 'Bridge of the Light', the connector is highly revered among the locals.

3. Ngoc Son Temple

The Ngoc Son Temple on the Jade Island was constructed in the memory of legendary military leader Tran Hung Dao who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century. The general fought bravely against the Yuan Dynasty, and protected Vietnam from the invaders. Located in the mod of the lake, visitors have to cross the Huc Bridge – another sacred icon for the locals. Inside the tower, there are sacred alters Tháp Bút (Pen Tower), Đình Trấn Ba (Pavilion against Waves), and Dac Nguyet (Moon Contemplation Pavilion) dedicated to Tran Hung Dao and other important religious philosophers. 
Hanoi Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple

How to Reach?

The Ngã 3 Lê Thái Tổ - Hàng Trống is the nearest bus stop to the Hoan Kiem Lake. The 09B, and 09A buses pass through the stop. Usually, the base fare of the Vietnamese bus is VND20, 000 of two kilometers. Post that, the charges keep on increasing after every two kilometers.

Apart from that, visitors can take taxis from their hotels to reach the destination. Usually, these taxis charge VND20, 000 for 2 km. Post that, the taxi fare increases by VND15, 000 per 2.5 km. If you are living in the Old Quarters of the city, then you can take a cyclo (bicycle rickshaws). With approximately VND50, 000 rate, the entire trip can be a new experience for overseas tourists.

So, what did you like about Hoan Kiem Lake? Do make it a point to visit the landmark, the calm oasis in the noise and crowd of the city.
- Last updated on Jan. 27, 2021 -
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