Hoan Kiem Lake

Short Menu

Hoan Kiem Lake


There are numerous interesting things which make visitors feel impressive when they visit Hanoi, especially with 18 lakes here. They are the lungs of the city. Hanoi has plenty of lakes, but Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake is in its cultural and historical heart. It is much smaller than West Lake, but the Hanoi The Old Quarter wraps around it, making for a relaxing escape from the bustle and chaos of the Old Quarter’s streets

The legend of Lake

In the middle of Hoan Kiem lake is a small island with a small stone Pagoda. Of course, you cannot get to it because there are no boats or bridges to the island.  According to its legend, this lake witnessed the heroic past of the country. Initially, the small islet featured the Ta Vong Temple, they built it during the eighteenth-century by the Trinh rulers. Nevertheless, it disappeared during the reign of the powerful Nguyen. The foundation of the tower traces back to the end of the nineteenth century when the French forces dominated the country. A Vietnamese bureaucrat who worked for the French government received permission to construct a tower in memory of Le Loi who led the Vietnamese people to victory against the forces of Ming dynasty in the fifteenth century.  In the past, Le Loi King was endowed with great strength by a mystical sword which had been given by a Golden Turtle God. The sword helped him to unite the forces and secure victory to protect the independence of the country. Nowadays, people said that the magical turtle used to guard in Hoan Kiem Lake.

The Turtle Tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

The Turtle Tower has the unique architecture which combined local Vietnamese and French colonial architecture. The ground floor, as well as the first floors, has 3 doors on both eastern and western sides of the tower. The northern and southern sides have two doors. The first and the top floor are fenced with vertical and horizontal rails. Atop the Turtle Tower is a version of the “Statue of Liberty”, which was placed by the French. Nevertheless, it was removed when the Tran Trong Kim regime gained control of the city in 1945. During the French colonial time, the local people would often hang Vietnam’s revolutionary flag from the tower to show their defiant spirit.

When you come here, you can get to the other bigger island on the lake called Jade Island. To access there, you have to cross a small bright red wooden Bridge named The Huc Bridge. This bridge leads to the entrance of an eighteenth-century Buddhist temple – the Temple of the Jade Mountain.

A warm greetings

The clean waters of the lake at night set off the city lights beautifully. However, it is much more shimmering by plenty of lights around parts of the lake wall and on Jade Island.

Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the most attractive places in Hanoi. It is a beautiful and historical place where Hanoian people usually relax after a hard-working day. If you have a chance travelling to Hanoi, the citadel of Vietnam, go to Hoan Kiem Lake to enjoy the peace here. 

If you are in Vietnam and interested in discovering more about Hanoi – the capital and its significance, we invite you to join us at Free Walking Tours Hanoi. We’ll take you across the building, and provide you with a unique perspective of the city. Book now and don’t miss out on this amazing experience.