Talking about Hanoi, tourists tend to mention their “on land” favourite destinations, from the Old Quarter to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, from Temple of literature to Hanoi Opera House. However, there also are an undiscovered “other side” of this elegant capital – the water side.
Hanoi is famous not only for its ancient streets, tasty food, and unique culture but also by beautiful lakes in the heart of this capital city. In fact, this city owns more than 80 lakes, various from size to the color of the water, make the water side of Ha Noi more diversity. In this blog post, let us introduce the three famous lakes, namely Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake and Truc Bach Lake.
Hoan Kiem lake
Hoan Kiem lake or Guom Lake is perhaps the most well-known lake for tourism. Located at the center of Hanoi, next to the famous Old Quarter and many main streets, hotels and shopping centers, the lake certainly the first choice for travelers. The uniqueness of Hoan Kiem lake is its green surface which is often praised as a giant green mirror or a green lung of this bustling city. The lake’s name is actually related to a legend back in the 15th century. According to the legend, Emperor Le Loi borrowed a magic sword from the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) under Hoan Kiem lake and won the battle versus the Chinese feudal, after the fight, he returned the sword to the turtle with a big gratefulness. The name “Hoan Kiem” in Vietnamese means “returned sword”, or “Guom” literally means “sword”. In fact, Hanoi people not only consider Hoan Kiem Lake as a charming spot but also a symbol of the vigor of this thousand-year-old city.
There are tons of things you can do at Hoan Kiem lake area make it one of the iconic attraction of the city. You can visit Ngoc Son temple and The Huc bridge to take some photos or just simply have an easy wander to enjoy the breezy vibes. Taking an electric car tour or a cyclo tour is also an interesting idea if you want to join the traffic. You may want to try some Thuy Ta ice-cream or some delicious dishes at Luc Thuy restaurant right beside the lake. It is also surrounded by many featured places of Hanoi such as The Old Quarter, Trang Tien Plaza, Hanoi Post office and “Shark’s jaw” building. Take time around the lake to explore even more this enchanting city.
Though West Lake (Ho Tay) got smaller now, it is still the biggest lake in Hanoi with a shore length of about 10.6 miles. The lake was created from a curved part of Red River and appeared in several Vietnamese legends. The lake is bordered by many significant places in the history of Hanoi, such as Tran Quoc Pagoda, Phu Tay Ho and Chu Van An High School, one of the oldest high schools in Vietnam.
West Lake is a perfect destination for jogging, cycling, doing exercises and also for living. There are many luxurious lake-view villas, apartments and hotels, including the two most lavish Intercontinental and Sheraton hotels. There is also a huge water park next to it, as well as a large number of seafood restaurants with the famous shrimp cake. You can go for a walk around the lake, take some photos at the “Korea streets”, go on a duck boat, or just sit and chit chat with your friends. A lot of people go to West lake for a ride to escape from the crowded streets, stop at a favourite corner, order a drink and totally immerse themselves in the scenery. Shopping is also a great choice since there are plenty of shops with both popular and unique souvenirs.
Truc Bach lake
A part of West lake separated by Thanh Nien road, Truc Bach Lake has its own history.
In the 17th century Doan Ke Thien divided the West lake into two parts, one large and one small, in order to build a narrow dike (called Co Ngu) to allow raising fish. In 1958, President Ho Chi Minh visited the dyke and named it Thanh Nien road. On the southern side of the lake, there was Truc Yen village who made silk for their living. The silk was so beautiful and people called it “Truc village silk” (“Bach” means silk), and that is how Truc Bach got its name. Travelers can take a walk around the lake and stop any time for a coffee, beer or lunch. You can find plenty of places for “bia hoi” (fresh beer) and “pho cuon” (pho rolls with beef and herbs) with a reasonable price.
Find out more in the next post Lakes – Lakes – The “other beautiful side” of an elegant Hanoi (Part 2)