Hoan Kiem Lake: Full Guide To Unveil Hanoi’s Heart In 2024

Hoan Kiem lake


Hoan Kiem Lake represents the ancient gentle Hanoi, with a unique beauty and a lot of attractions. Here, travelers can wander around the lake to witness magnificent landscapes, or even visit the Old Quarter. That’s why Hoan Kiem is always one of the must-visit choices when having a holiday in Hanoi.

In our blog, we will guide you on what you should do in Hoan Kiem Lake as well as useful tips for your plan to visit this site. If so, let’s start discovering with us below!


Hoan Kiem lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is a freshwater lake, located in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. It is considered an important intersection among many main streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter, like Hang Ngang, or Hang Dao. Thus, visitors can easily find and move to this destination by various means of transport.

With an area of only 12 hectares wide, Hoan Kiem Lake is not a big lake in Hanoi. However, it is ideal to stroll around and enjoy the fresh surrounding ambiance. Additionally, you will have a chance to discover more about the Vietnamese lifestyle and the typical culture of Hanoi.

The lake’s depth is from 1 to 1.4 meters, with different colors like light, green, and dark, depending on the sky’s reflection. This highlights the unique and mysterious beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake in the visitors’ sight. During your visit to this spot, if lucky, you can see some several hundred-year-old turtles rising out of the water for sunbathing. These animals are sometimes called “living mascots” of the capital.

Legend of Hoan Kiem Lake 

Hoan Kiem lake

Hoan Kiem Lake, or Sword Lake, is named based on a historical legend in Vietnam. Its original name was Luc Thuy Lake – meaning its all-year green water. However, in the 15th century, the lake was renamed “Sword Lake”, which related to the important event when King Le Thai To gave the “Thuan Thien ” sword back to the turtle deity. This sword used to be known as “a heaven-sent sword”, helping the Vietnamese nation gain a victory against the Ming Army. To express great respect to this event, the King decided to change the name to “Hoan Kiem” – meaning the returned sword.

Although the lake was damaged by the war, it currently kept the unique wonders of ancient works and long-standing historical values of Vietnam. All of these things are so special that you hardly find them anywhere in Vietnam. Coming here, you can listen to more stories about Hoan Kiem Lake Legend from locals, which will surely be an amazing experience.

Full Guide

To have a wonderful trip to Sword Lake, let’s take a look at our detailed guide prepared for you below. Including:

Best time to visit 

Hoan Kiem lake

We recommend you get to Hoan Kiem Lake on the weekends, especially after 7:00. During weekend evenings, you not only have visit to Sword Lake but also take part in a famous night market, called Hanoi Old Quarter market. In this spot, visitors can catch sight of various interesting activities such as street performances, enjoying street foods, and going shopping.

How to get there

There are three main means of transport to move Hoan Kiem Lake, including taxis, public buses, and motorbikes). In particular:

  • Public bus: In Hanoi, you can easily find many bus routes passing by the lake, such as 09, 14, 40, 18, 23, 34, 08, and so forth. However, it is ideal for you to travel by bus numbers 14 and 09 due to their parking lots nearest Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • Taxi: If you visit the lake as a group, let’s book a taxi or Grab to conveniently get to the lake. Without any stops, visitors can save time for your journey.
  • Motorbike: Driving your rented motorbike allows you to witness beautiful landscapes along the way to Hoan Kiem Lake. Due to its location in the center of Hanoi, it is relatively hard to get lost. Thus, you completely search on Google Maps and follow its instructions to get there.

What to expect

Being one of the most well-known tourism destinations in Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake can bring you an impressive experience with various attractions, such as:

Ngoc Son Temple

Hoan Kiem lake

Ngoc Son Temple lies in the middle of the lake, built to worship Van Xuan De Quan – a talented general in the Nguyen Army. However, it converges the architectural beauty of 3 religions, including Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. This makes Ngoc Son Temple a must-visit with travelers, especially Indians. Visiting here, you will have a chance to admire the historical imprints of Vietnam, as well as discover more about our religious community.

The Huc Bridge

Hoan Kiem lake

The Huc Bridge is an impressive work, linking the bank of Sword Lake with Ngoc Son Temple. It was built in 1865, with most parts made of wood, and stood out by its bright red color.

According to the old tale, The Huc represents a belief of Buddhists, with the meaning “the bridge where light is absorbed to bring the finest things”. When dropping in here, you will feel the ancient and elegant beauty, from the bridge’s design to its surrounding landscapes.

Turtle Tower

Hoan Kiem lake

Turtle Tower is a small tower in the center of Hoan Kiem Lake, impressing tourists with a harmonious combination of Vietnamese and French architecture. The tower has 3 main storeys, and each story has a distinctive size. There will not be any boat for you to witness its beauty in a near distance. Thus, you can only admire the Turtle Tower along the banks around Sword Lake.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral is known as the oldest church in Hanoi, which is always full of tourists coming daily to discover its long-lasting history and architecture. Currently, it has become the center of Catholicism in Hanoi, with some occasional ceremonies in a year.
From Hoan Kiem Lake, you only need to pass by Hang Gai and Ly Quoc Su Street to get there within a few minutes. Let’s turn on Google Maps on your phone, and start your journey.

Things to do

Besides some outstanding attractions, you can do a lot of things in Hoan Kiem Lake, including:

Wandering around the Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street

Hoan Kiem lake

If you prefer the hustling and bustling atmosphere of Hanoi at night, don’t miss Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street. The walking street was officially opened in September 2016, stretching around Hoan Kiem Lake, and on various streets like Dinh Le, Hang Dau, Bao Khanh, etc. To enjoy the Hanoi night market, you can drop in along Hang Dao and Hang Ngang Street.

  • Opening time: 7 PM – 12 AM (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)
  • Parking lots: Hai Ba Trung, Quang Trung, Ly Thai To, Le Phung Hieu and Ngo Quyen Street.

Trying local food

Hoan Kiem lake

In Hoan Kiem, you will have a chance to enjoy famous local dishes in Hanoi, as well as in other regions of Vietnam.  All of them can bring you wonderful flavors that you hardly find anywhere. Below are some of our suggestions, including:

Ice creamTrang Tien Ice Cream – No. 35 Trang Tien Street1 USD
Sweet soup4 Hang Can Street1 USD
Vietnamese mixed rice paperBanh Trang Tron Mrs. Toan – No.86 Hang Hoang1 USD – 1.5 USD
Egg CoffeeDinh Cafe – No. 13 Dinh Tien Hoang1 USD

Shopping at souvenir stores

Around Sword Lake, there is a broad range of stores selling essential Hanoi souvenirs that you shouldn’t miss during your visit time here. Let’s note some addresses to get special souvenirs for your family and friends below:

  • Non la: Souvenir shops in Hanoi Old Quarter
  • Silk: Arashi Silk (38 Hang Trong Street) and Royal Silk (64 Hang Trong Street)
  • O Mai: O Mai Gia Loi (8 Hang Duong Street); O Mai Gia Thinh (13 Hang Duong Street) and O Mai Thuy Khe (10 Hang Cot Street)
  • Do paper products: Around Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Old Quarter, Temple of Literature
  • Ceramics: Authentic Bat Trang (15 Hang Gai Street)

Enjoying street performances

Hoan Kiem lake

While strolling Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street, you can easily catch sight of many street performances. There can be various displays from dancers, talented musicians, or even magicians. These activities can bring an entertaining atmosphere to everyone, allowing you to have unforgettable memories during your visit.

Watching puppet shows

Hoan Kiem lake

Puppet shows are renowned folk arts in Vietnam, which is a great chance for travelers to have a deeper understanding of Vietnamese traditions and cultures. Near Hoan Kiem Lake, there is a popular water puppet theater with locals and foreigners namely Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Coming here, you first witness well-trained and creative puppet performances that you can only find in Vietnam.


  • During your journey to Hoan Kiem Lake, you should consider the essential notes below to have the best time here. In particular:
  • Book a cyclo tour around
  • Ask price to use products/services and bargain if necessary
  • Wear polite clothes during visit time
  • Bring cash or shoes for easy mobility
  • Go with a local guide to have a good preparation (contact Vietnamtour.in)


Our blog has just reviewed Hoan Kiem Lake, as well as impressive surrounding attractions that you should visit during your journey. Don’t forget to drop in Hoan Kiem on the weekends for additional activities like visiting the Hanoi Old Quarter night market. If you want to get more about Hanoi tours, or Hoan Kiem’s schedule, let’s refer to our Vietnam tour packages for detailed information.


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