Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam
Legends and myths come together at Hoan Kiem Lake
Rated 4.5/5 (based on 166 reviews)
Best time to visit
Mar - Apr, Sep - Nov
- Ideal for friends
About Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi
In the old quarters of the capital city, Hanoi sits the ancient Hoan Kiem Lake, which translates to the Vietnamese language as ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’. This moniker has a famous legend behind it, which is often the storyline of numerous water puppetry shows in the Thong Lang Water Puppet Theatre.
The legend says that, once the great Viet emperor Ly Thai Tong was on a cruise of the Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi in a boat with his magical sword. This sword is said to be heaven-sent and passed on to Ly Thai by the local deity Dragon King Long Vuong. Ly Thai Tong had used this sword to fend off the Chinese invasion. But on the day of his cruise, the Golden Turtle God Kim Qui surfaced from the lake and asked for the sword back, since its purpose was served and it was to be restored to its divine owners. To commemorate this mystical event, the lake was renamed Hoan Kiem from its initial name Luc Thuy, meaning ‘green water’ because of its colour.
Upon visiting the lake, one can occasionally find soft-shell turtles roaming around or resting in the shore, which reminds everyone of this Hoan Kiem Lake legend. In the middle of the lake on a small island, there is a Turtle Tower with double storeys and a peaking roof, paying tribute to the Hoan Kiem Lake turtle. Though it looks quite dilapidated, it shows how much this story has shaped the local faith.
Another major attraction of Lake Hoan Kiem is the Temple of the Jade Mountain or the Ngoc Son Temple. Sitting in a quiet and tranquil island towards the northern shore, this pagoda is devoted to the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan dynasty. Prayers are also offered to scholar Van Xuong and Confucian master Nguyen Van Sieu. One can reach the Jade Island, where the temple stands, by accessing the Rising Sun Bridge or the Huc Bridge.
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, and the surrounding areas are a great place for small sightseeing and relaxation. On weekends, there are vibrant festivities, and market stalls are set up all around, diverting the local traffic via elsewhere.
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FAQ's of Hanoi
Read on to find out why our customers love us!
The natural beauty of the lake and the surrounding greens, the view of the Turtle Tower in the middle and the beautiful Ngoc Son Temple are the major attractions in Hoan Kiem Lake.
The main significance behind the lake is the legend of the turtle god an emperor Ly Thai To associated with it.
Early morning is a good time to visit Hoan Kiem Lake. To see the temple, you must go from 8 am to 5 pm.
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