Hoang Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Hanoi Lake of the Returned Sword

Hoang Kiem Lake is a beautiful, tranquil and very comfortable place in Hanoi with beautiful legends and a great tranquility.

In the evenings, you can sit on a bench and watch the emerald smoothness of Hoang Kiem, and join the evening exercise, which almost all locals do at the same time.

This is one of the most beautiful sights in Hanoi. The name Hoang Kiem translates as Lake of the Returned Sword. Located in the heart of Hanoi. In general, this part of town is very popular among tourists, as here are concentrated most hotels, hostels and restaurants.

Many years ago the lake was part of the local river, but over time separated from it, becoming a unique, distinctive place.

Bridge over the Central Island

Vietnamese legend of Hoan Kiem Lake

Lake Hoan Kiem is loved by absolutely all tourists, even those who did not like the city at all. When you come here, you will be told an old local legend about it. All residents of the city say that in Hoan Kiem lives a giant turtle, which no one has ever seen. According to the legend, during the war, it came out of a pond and gave a sword to the famous Vietnamese hero – Le Luy. It was then that the turtle saved the whole nation, managing to help in the fight against the Chinese. After the complete defeat of the enemies, she reappeared from the lake and returned the sword.

Most people believe that the turtle is over 300 years old and is of the soft-spotted type. Some even say it was fished out, examined, and released back into the wild five years ago.

Surprisingly, the water in Hoanquem is consistently green. And it’s not from turbulent vegetation, as it’s constantly being cleaned. But whatever the case, scientists have never been able to give a clear explanation for this unusual effect. Because of its green color, the lake used to even be called Luke Tui, which translates as Green Water.

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And in the center of the lake is a tower, called the Turtle Tower. It was built back in the 19th century at the request of a rich mandarin in honor of that mythical turtle. But there was a rumor that the ashes of the mandarin’s father were actually kept there. When this was proven, a great scandal erupted, but the structure was not demolished because it blended in well with the surrounding landscape.

Lake at night

Temple on the Lake

On a tiny island on the lake there is a temple. You can reach it by a bridge that led from the shore. It was founded in honor of three prominent figures of the time: a keeper of literature, a hero of Vietnam, and the architect of the temple. At the entrance you can notice a beautiful gate painted with signs indicating happiness and prosperity.

A little further away there is a monument to the writing brush, erected in honor of the patron of literature. From the inside, the temple is extremely beautiful and decorated with drawings of animals representing something special. You certainly won’t get past the red horse, erected in honor of the personal horse of the chief imperial commander. By the way, the statue of the commander is installed in the same temple.

Turtle Tower

Hoankyem Lake is the most pleasant and cozy place in the city. Around the lake installed numerous benches, gazebos and planted all the lawns with flowers. Every evening all comers gather near the lake and do exercises to beautiful melodious music. Holidaymakers, when they see this action, are very surprised, but gladly join in. Almost all over the city at the same time can be found engaged residents.

Diagram of pedestrian streets and parking lots near the lake

All the streets of Hanoi lead to the lake.

They are so beautiful that tourists love to wander along them in the evenings. During the day there are shops and stores. The prices are very low, but no one forbid to haggle. By the way, they have a custom when tourists haggle, so you can not be afraid, and feel free to try to discount the price.

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In the stores you can buy national clothes, shoes, souvenirs, dishes and much more. But you should watch your wallet, as there are quite a few thieves.

Lake of the Returned Sword (Hoang Kiem)

Hoan Kiem Lake of the Returned Sword

Hanoi is called the “city between rivers” not without reason. In addition to the Red River, along which it stretches for 40 km, the city area abounds with lakes, both natural and artificial. According to some sources, there are about a hundred of them. The largest of the lakes is Ho Tay, with a shoreline of 17 km. Along its shores are many gardens, restaurants, villas and hotels, making it a popular vacation spot for citizens and tourists. Located in the center of Hanoi, the lake is surrounded by legends and myths.

Ho Tay Lake in Hanoi

In the heart of Hanoi is another national celebrity – Hoang Kiem Lake. It is both geographical, historical and cultural heart of the capital of Vietnam. All excursions begin at this body of water, which has several names. The name “Lake of the Returned Sword” it gave him a poetic legend, which is intertwined truth with fiction. It is also called “Green Water Lake” because its color varies depending on the reflection of the sky.

West Lake Ho Tay.

The largest body of water in Hanoi covers an area of 500 hectares. The name Ho Tay is translated as “Western”. Once on the shores of the picturesque lake settled the Vietnamese nobility. The royal families of the Chen and Le dynasties used to rest here in their summer palaces. Some palaces and pagodas have survived to this day. Folk legends tell how the lake was formed. Both the golden buffalo and the spirit of a fox with nine tails figure here.

Hoan Kiem Lake of the Returned Sword

The lake is divided into two parts by a causeway and a road. In the middle of the body of water on a small island is the multi-tiered Chang Quoc Pagoda, said to be the oldest in Hanoi. It is a real jewel of Ho Tay. There are a total of 21 pagodas in the lake area. On the shore is the Quan Thanh Temple, one of the four oldest in the capital of Vietnam.

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Vietnam Chang Quoc Pagoda

Nowadays, on the banks of Ho Tay built a lot of luxury buildings – restaurants, hotels, residences. In Hanoi, this is one of the resting places of citizens and mandatory destination for tourist excursions. On weekends, honeymooners have photo shoots, boating.

Hoang Kiem Lake

Rather large, but shallow lake Hoangkiem formed on the site of the former course of the Hongkha (Red) River, the largest of several rivers flowing through the territory of Hanoi. This river, like the Lake of the Returned Sword, is closely related to the process of development of the state of Vietnam. In the history of the country, the lake has an important place as a symbol of the Vietnamese people’s victory in the struggle for independence against Chinese rule.

Hoan Kiem Lake Reclaimed Sword Lake

The legend

A beautiful legend tells that here the future founder of the Le Dynasty received a magic sword as a gift, with the help of which he defeated the conquerors. According to the legend, Le Loi visited a fisherman friend who gave him a metal rod fished out of the lake. Le Loi cast a sword from the rod. When the inscription “Harmony with the sky” appeared on the blade, he regarded it as a sign from above and used the weapon to fight his enemies.

The events took place in the fifteenth and the struggle lasted ten years. After expelling the invaders from the country in 1428, Le Loi became emperor, known in history as Le Thai Tho. One day he was traveling in the region of Lake Hoan Kiem. A golden turtle appeared out of the water. It commanded that the sword be returned to the underwater Dragon King so that it would not be used against his people. The emperor obeyed the order, and the turtle disappeared into the depths along with the sword. Since then, this body of water has been called Hoankye, or Lake of the Returned Sword.

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The golden turtle is a symbol of those distant events. Truth and fiction merged together. Huge turtles did live in the lake, a stuffed one of them can be seen in the temple. On Hoan Kiem Lake, there are two islands that symbolize the legendary turtle. The small one is the head and the big one is the body of the turtle. On the small island is the Tower of the Turtle. It can only be admired from afar.

Lake of the Returned Sword Turtle Pagoda

It is not very remarkable architectural construction of gray color, built at the end of XIX century. The Turtle Tower has four floors, the lower ones have windows in the form of arches. In the evening the tower is completely transformed. Thanks to the lighting projectors it turns into a fantastic structure, a real ornament of the lake. In the evenings the best views can be seen from the bridge leading to the temple.

Hoan Kiem Lake of the Returned Sword Turtle Tower

The bridge of the Rising Sun is wooden, bright red color. It is also competently illuminated in the evening and looks much better than during the day. The bridge leads to a large island, directly to the entrance to the temple of Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son), which was built in the 18th century. “Jade” it was called because of the thick crowns of evergreen trees growing on the island. Some of the trees look very unusual – their roots start high on the trunks and branches, from where they descend into the water. There is a small fee to enter the bridge.

Rising Sun Bridge

Rising Sun Bridge

Jade Mountain Temple

Jade Mountain Temple

The temple is dedicated to the Vietnamese general Tran Hung Dao, who won a victory against the Mongol invaders. The temple is active, very colorful inside, decorated in red and gold colors. There are altars with offerings to the saints, carved in wood and brightly colored figurines of which are placed along the walls. Fragrant candles are constantly lit. The most interesting thing in the temple is a stuffed animal of a huge turtle that died in 1968.

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At the northeastern end of Returned Sword Lake is the Water Puppet Theater. Performances are staged here in the evenings. This unique spectacle, accompanied by folk music with a live orchestra and singing goes back in time. Hidden from viewers behind a bamboo curtain, the puppeteers are waist-deep in water. They control the puppets with poles and ropes. At night, the characters seem to move by themselves through the water.

Hanoi Water Puppet Theater

water puppet theater

The Reclaimed Sword Lake and Ho Tay Lake are the favorite vacation spots of Hanoi residents. For tourists, they are of undoubted interest as historical sites.

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