Hoan Kiem Lake

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Hoan Kiem Lake  – A Comprehensive Travel Experience, Sightseeing, and Dining

Welcome to Hoan Kiem Lake, the mesmerizing destination nestled in the heart of Hanoi, attracting a multitude of locals and tourists alike, seeking to immerse themselves in the breathtaking natural scenery while enjoying various recreational and dining activities.

Apart from West Lake, Hanoi’s most famous landmark, Hoan Kiem Lake is an essential addition to your Hanoi travel itinerary. Hoan Kiem Lake is a natural freshwater lake situated in the center of Hanoi. It holds a legendary tale of King Le Thai To, who returned the magic sword to the Golden Turtle God.

Where is Hoan Kiem Lake located?

Address: Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi City.

Hoan Kiem Lake  lies in the heart of Hanoi and serves as a connecting point to famous ancient streets such as Hang Dao, Hang Ngang, Luong Van Can, and other areas like Trang Thi, Trang Tien, Ba Trieu, Hang Bai, and Dinh Tien Hoang. This prime location offers convenient opportunities for locals and tourists to stroll around the lake, explore nearby renowned landmarks, and experience the distinctive cultural charm of the surrounding old quarter.

How to get to Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi?

When traveling to Hanoi, you have various transportation options to reach Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake). Here are some suggestions based on your preferences and travel needs:

  • Motorbike: For a convenient and flexible way to explore Hanoi, you can rent a motorbike at hotels or rental services, allowing you to freely discover the capital city at your own pace.
  • Taxi: Hanoi boasts several reputable taxi companies that cater to the transportation needs of both tourists and locals. One notable option is the green GSM taxi service, which provides excellent service, spacious and clean vehicles, smooth operation, and reasonable fares.
  • Public bus: To save on transportation costs, you can take one of the many bus routes that stop near Hoan Kiem Lake, such as routes 04, 08, 09, 11, 14, 18, 23, 31, 34, 36, or 40.
  • Car rental: If you are traveling with a group or family, you may consider renting a car to have the freedom of movement and explore the capital city at your convenience.


How long is the walk around the Lake, and what are the transportation options for sightseeing?

Hoan Kiem Lake covers a vast area of approximately 12 hectares, and the path around the lake is about 1.7 kilometers in length. When sightseeing, you have several transportation options to enjoy the lake’s scenery and surroundings:

Motorbike: This flexible and popular means of transport is suitable for tourists who wish to explore Hoan Kiem Lake and its nearby areas independently. You can consider renting a motorbike in Hanoi with prices ranging from 120,000 – 200,000 VND/day.

Cyclo (rickshaw): Taking a cyclo ride around Hoan Kiem Lakeoffers a fantastic way to relax while admiring the picturesque landscape. The cost of renting a cyclo may vary depending on the route, and you can negotiate with the driver accordingly. The average price for a cyclo ride in Hanoi is around 150,000 – 300,000 VND per trip.

Electric car: The electric car tour is a newly popular service loved by many. The route covers the ancient quarter, famous landmarks, historical sites, and the Hoan Kiem Lakearea. If you are traveling with a group, this can be a convenient and cost-effective transportation choice. The average rental price for an electric car is around 250,000 – 350,000 VND for a 30-minute tour with a capacity of 7 people.

Exploring the history and legend of Hoan Kiem Lake

In ancient times, Hoan Kiem Lake was known as Luc Thuy Lake due to its distinctive blue-green water color. It was also called Thuy Quan Lake as it was used for naval parades by the kings.

In the late 16th century, Lord Trinh divided the lake into two parts, called Ta Vong Lake and Huu Vong Lake. However, when the French colonizers invaded Vietnam in 1884, Huu Vong Lake was filled to expand the capital, leaving only Ta Vong Lake, which is now known as Hoan Kiem Lake.

The name Hoan Kiem Lake first appeared in the 15th century, associated with the legend of the Hoan Kiem Lakeconcerning King Le Thai To and the Golden Turtle. According to the legend, King Le Thai To (Le Loi) was leading the resistance against foreign invaders when he fortuitously acquired the magical sword, Thuan Thien. This sword was believed to be the divine sword of the Dragon King, which helped him defeat the Ming army, secure the country’s borders, and ascend to the throne in 1428.


Once while boating on Ta Vong Lake, the Golden Turtle suddenly emerged and requested King Le Thai To to return the divine sword to the Dragon King. The king complied, and the Golden Turtle disappeared. From that moment on, the king decided to rename the lake Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake, a name that is still used to this day.


 famous sightseeing spots around Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake never fails to captivate both domestic and international visitors with its unique charm, not only as a picturesque landscape but also as a favorite destination for the residents of the capital. Besides the stunning natural scenery, the area around Hoan Kiem Lake is home to numerous historical and cultural landmarks, offering visitors a diverse array of experiences:

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) on Hoan Kiem Lake

Turtle Tower is an ancient architectural structure located on Turtle Island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. The tower has a rectangular design with three stories and multiple openings and a sophisticated railing on the upper floor. This landmark holds significant historical value and stands as a testament to the passage of time. Visiting Turtle Tower allows you to enjoy tranquility and serenity amidst the heart of Hanoi. The time-worn appearance of the Turtle Tower has become an iconic symbol of the city, often featured in many romantic paintings depicting the capital.


Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple is a famous spiritual destination situated on Ngoc Island in Hoan Kiem Lake. The temple was built in 1841 to worship Van Xuong De Quan, Tran Hung Dao, and other deities. It is also a place of convergence for Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. When visiting Ngoc Son Temple, you can explore the unique architecture of the Thap But (Pen Tower) and Nghien (Ink Slab), as well as the two inner shrines. The temple is not only a renowned tourist spot but also a repository of cultural and historical values of the capital city. Additionally, you can choose to visit during festivals or Lunar New Year to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and seek blessings and prosperity for yourself and your family.

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