Why is Hoan Kiem Lake special  in Hanoi, Vietnam


Hoan Kiem Lake- Sword Lake-Returned Lake

If you are going to visit Hanoi for some days, it is very pretty that you will stay  somewhere near Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is considered the heart of Hanoi, not only physically but also symbolically. In fact, the more time you spend on learning about the lake, the more special it becomes


The tale goes that Le Loi King met a shining metal bar when he visited his friend in the forest and he brought home. Then his friend had one in one of his attempts for fish. The King asked for the bar, brought it home and realized that it was a sword with two words printed on “Thuan Thien” (harmonious with heaven).

Le Loi then understood that the sword was a present from the God. He used this sword for the battle against the war from neighbouring country. In 1428, when the country was in peace, on one of his relaxing trip to the Thuy Quan (now Hoan Kiem) Lake, there was a tortoise rising above water and said he had to return the Sword to the Dragon king. King threw the sword into the lake without any hesitation. The tortoise quickly took the sword and dove down the water. From then on, Thuy Quan was called Hoan Kiem lake.


About the lake

The lake is not only a special history but also a beautiful atrraction. The water color of Hoan Kiem Lake is not found in other lakes elsewhere in the country because it is greenish, with dark or light shade depending on the reflection of the sky. There are full of tortoise, which can not be found among Vietnamese lakes. If luckily, you will catch giant animals rising out of water. And because tortoise is considered as a sacred animal in Vietnam’s spirits (along with dragon, phoenix and unicorn), Hoan Kiem Lake then become a spiritual place that nurtures tortoise.



Waking up early in the morning, at about 5 a.m., you will see lines and lines of olderly people and teenagers doing anything from yoga to tai-chi to aerobics in their own music. It is very interesting and unique because It looks as if the whole city was up and running for morning exercise. They work out in group or by themselves, with or without equipment or some simple equipment for men doing outdoor Gym.

You can rent a bike, motorbike or cyclo and go around the lake and eating Trang Tien ice-cream in the summer or boiled potato or corns. It is our relaxation.

When darkness covers the city and light is on in all streets, you can see couples holding hands walking along the lake. If you have time and do want to observe Hanoian’s life, just sit down on one of the stone bench, enjoy the view and have a good talk with some local friends. Donot  worry because all Vietnamese are friendly.


How to get there

Hoan Kiem Lake is centrally located and it takes some minutes walking down from Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where most hotels are gather. From Noi Bai Airport, it takes about 40 minutes to get here by bus 86. If you stay in West Lake area, just take Yen Phu Road to reach the Old Quarter and head east to Hoan Kiem Lake, you can use bus because it is very convenient.

Where to stay

Near Hoan Kiem Lake, hotels are plentiful. Our suggestions:

Hanoi Sofitel Metropole -5 star

Hanoi Hilton Opera-5 star.

Serenade Hotel -3 star

Sunrise Hotel Hanoi-Budget hotel

See for full list of hotels from budget hotel to luxury near Hanoi Old Quarter more options..