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Situated in the heart of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake serves as a reminder of Vietnam’s magnificent national identity and resilience. Also referred to as the Sword Lake, this lake is more than just a scenic spot in the city— it symbolises resilience and the gateway to understanding Vietnamese history, legend, and culture. The lake is often hailed as one of the richest cultural heritages of the city with lush green surroundings offering an escape from the busy landscape of Hanoi. The perfect getaway from the chaotic urban life, Hanoi Kiem Lake offers many significance beyond natural beauty.

About Hoan Kiem Lake

There’s a small island where the Turtle Tower is located.

Image Credit: Daderot for Wikimedia Commons

The Hoan Kiem Lake location is one of the most notable ones situated in the Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi. Visitors have often agreed to be able to visit the lake using any mode of transport. Although the lake isn’t too big, it does have a serene atmosphere. It is the perfect spot to visit in the evenings, especially during sunset.

The lake is supposed to be 1 to 1.4 meters deep and is said to change colour depending on the reflection from sunlight. Thus, the lake can either turn green or dark. Hoan Kiem Lake is also the perfect destination to witness the beauty of hundred-year-old turtles. That’s right; if you’re lucky enough during your visit to the lake, you may be able to spot some really old turtles, often referred to as the living mascots of the lake.

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Hoan Kiem Lake Legend

There’s a small island on Hoan Kiem Lake where the Turtle Tower is located.

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One of the major reasons for Hoan Kiem Lake’s popularity is its legend. Also known as the Sword Lake, this lake has a rich historical significance in Vietnam. The lake’s original name was Luc Thuy Lake translating to all-year green water. The lake was renamed Sword Lake in the 15th century when King Le Thai To came to give the Thuan Thien sword back to the turtle deity in the lake. Many believed that the Thuan Thien sword was sent by the Gods to help Vietnam gain victory over the Ming Army. After returning the sword, the King respected the event and eventually renamed the lake Hoan Kiem, meaning the returned sword.

Best Time To Visit

There’s a small island on Hoan Kiem Lake where the Turtle Tower is located.

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You can take the Hoan Kiem Lake tour throughout the year. However, the best time to visit would be weekends, especially in the evening. The weekend evenings at the lake are extremely beautiful and the perfect opportunity to explore the nearby night market, also known as the Hanoi Old Quarter market. You can get a glimpse of some of the magnificent street performances, go shopping and enjoy the local delicacies of Vietnam.

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Ways To Get The Hoàn Kiếm Lake

During the evening, several transport mediums pass by Hoan Kiem Lake.

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Public buses, rented motorbikes and taxis are some of the best ways to reach the lake. Here’s a detailed information about visiting the lake:

Public bus: Several public buses pass by Ho Hoan Kiem Lake along their route.

Motorbike: You can rent a motorbike and visit Sword Lake. Visiting the place by bike would be the best destination because it offers a view of the beautiful landscape of the lake.

Taxi: Booking a private taxi to the lake is one of the easiest ways to get there. You’ll reach the destination in no time if there are no additional stops.

Major Attractions at Hoan Kiem Lake

Although the lake isn’t too big, there are some of the most important stops you must explore while at the destination. These include the following:

1. The Turtle Tower

The Turtle Tower at  the lake is one of the major attractions.

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Built in the middle of the lake on a small island is the Turtle Tower resembling a standing sword. The tower is 15 meters tall and divided into three levels. Each of the levels has intricate patterns and red-tiled roofs.

The engravings are written in Nom script reflecting the grandeur and sophistication of Vietnamese art. Visitors should avoid touching the tower, not cause any noise and maintain cleanliness around the spot.

Fee: To visit the Turtle Tower, one must rent a boat which costs around 20000 VND.

Timing: 7:30 AM- 5:30 PM

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2. Ngoc Son Temple

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The Ngoc Son Temple is located on a small island connected to the shores of the lake. This ancient temple, built in the 18th century, honours Gods, literary figure Nguyen Van Sieu, heroes such as Quan The Am Bodhisattva and King Le Thai To, and military leader Tran Hung Dao. The most notable structures at the Ngoc Son Temple include Thap But Tower, Dai Nghiem Pavillion, and Tam Quan Gate.

Fee: 30000 VND

Timing: 7:30 AM- 5:30 PM

3. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

The Thang Long Water puppet show is conducted with hidden artists controlling the puppets.

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The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is situated towards the north of the lake offering insights about the cultural entertainment in Vietnam. The art form reflects the use of wooden puppets performing on water being controlled by hidden artists. The theatre show is further accompanied by lighting, fireworks, singing and music.

Fee: 100000 VND

Timing: 3 PM- 9 PM (each show lasts 50 minutes)

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4. The Huc Bridge

The Huc Bridge.

Image Credit: Rolf Müller for Wikimedia Commons

The Huc Bridge is one of the major attractions connecting the shore of the lake with Ngoc Son Temple. The bridge was built in 1865 and made of 15 wooden spans joined by iron nails. It is 18 meters long and 3 meters wide, increasing visibility with the bright red colour. This is the perfect place to get a panoramic view of the lake.

Fee: Free

Timing: 7:30 AM-5:30 PM

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It is now time to plan your trip to Vietnam and dive into the culture and history of the place. When you visit the lake, make sure that you’re not spoiling the lake or making loud noises which can break the sanctity of the place.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Why is Hoan Kiem Lake famous?

One of the main reasons why Hoan Kiem Lake is so famous is because of the legends attached to it. The famous Turtle Tower here is said to be the place where Golden Turtle Genie sleeps.

Where is Hoan Kiem Lake?

Hoan Kiem Lake is situated between the old town of Hanoi and its French quarters. Even if you're walking from the central locations of the city, you can easily reach this place.

Are you allowed to walk around Ho Hoan Kiem Lake?

Yes, the visitors are allowed to take a trip around Ho Hoan Kiem Lake. Considering the comfortable and soothing atmosphere, taking a walk around the lake during the evening can be a wonderful experience.

How long is Hoan Kiem Lake?

Hoan Kiem Lake in Vietnam is around 700 meters in length and 200 meters in width.

What were the other names of Hoan Kiem Lake?

The other names of Hoan Kiem Lake include Ta Vong and Thuy Quan. The lake was often named so in honour of its emerald green-blue colour. It is also known as Sword Lake.

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