Sword Lake, also known as Hoan Kiem Lake, is a lake located in the center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.

Legend Of Hoan Kiem Lake

According to legend, the lake was named after a magical sword that appeared in the lake in the 15th century. The sword was given to the Vietnamese king Le Loi by a golden turtle, who asked the king to use it to drive out the Chinese invaders who had occupied Vietnam. The king was successful in defeating the Chinese and, after his victory, the turtle reappeared and took the sword back into the lake. The lake has been known as Hoan Kiem Lake, or “Lake of the Returned Sword,” ever since.

Worship Of Turtles In Hoan Kiem Lake

Today tow embalmed turtles are kept on display at Ngoc Son Temple, built on a little island in the middle of the lake. The turtles are believed to be hundreds of years old, one put on display in 1967 and one in 2019 after 3 years processing. They are considered a symbol of longevity and prosperity in Vietnamese culture. The temple and the turtles are both popular tourist destinations in Hanoi, and visitors often come to see the turtle and pay their respects.

The Living Turtle In Hoan Kiem Lake

The Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is a species of turtle native to China and Vietnam. It is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, with a carapace (shell) that can reach up to 100 cm (39 inches) in length. Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are believed to be only 3 remaining individuals of this species, 2 in China and 1 in Vietnam.

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Attractions In And Around Hoan Kiem Lake

Turtle Tower

On another little islet in the central location of the lake stands a monument called the Turtle Tower which looks like a belfry. The tower was constructed to commemorate the legend of the sacred turtle.

Ngoc Son Temple

The lake is also home to the Temple of the Jade Mountain, a temple dedicated to the Trần Hưng Đạo, a famous Vietnamese general who lived in the 13th century. Ngoc Son Temple is situated on an island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter of the city. The temple was built in the 13th century, during the Tran Dynasty, and is dedicated to the Tran Hung Dao, a hero who is revered for his victory over the Mongols during the 13th century. The temple was also dedicated to other deities, including Van Xuong, the patron saint of literature, and La To, the patron saint of doctors.

To visit Ngoc Son Temple, visitors must first cross the iconic red bridge that connects the island to the mainland, which is surrounded by souvenir stalls and vendors selling traditional Vietnamese snacks and drinks.

Visitors to the temple can explore the scenic courtyard with its pond and stone statues and sculptures Today, Ngoc Son Temple is a popular tourist attraction in Hanoi, and is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, offering visitors a chance to learn more about Vietnamese culture.

The Pen Tower at Hoan Kiem Lake

Thap But (also known as the “Pen Tower”) is a pagoda located at the Ngoc Son Temple. The Thap But is a distinctive feature of the temple, standing at a height of 21 meters (69 feet) and adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures. The pagoda is a popular spot for tourists to visit and take photos, and is a symbol of the cultural and religious history of Hanoi.

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Thuy Ta Café & Restaurant

Thuy Ta is a significant floating building that has been serving traditional food and coffee to the high society of Hanoi since it was established in 1958. It has become both historical and iconic to the locals in Hanoi. Thuy Ta is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and offer a range of traditional Vietnamese dishes and drinks.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

The theater is known for its traditional water puppet performances, which are a unique form of theater that originated in Vietnam and are now popular all over the world. The theater is located on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, near the Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. The performances at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater feature colorful puppets that are controlled from behind a screen, and depict traditional stories, legends, and customs from Vietnamese folklore.

The Hanoi Central Post Office

The post office is a historic building located in the center of Hanoi on the side of Hoan Kiem Lake. The original building was built in the late 19th century by the French during the colonial period, and is known for its beautiful architecture and its cultural and historical significance. The post office building today was built during the 80’s with modern style influenced by Soviet modern architecture. The post office is still in operation today, offering a range of postal services to the public and visited by many tourists.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral is situated in the Old Quarter of the city. The cathedral was built in the late 19th century, and is known for its Gothic Revival style, with soaring arches and beautiful stained glass windows. It is a place of worship for Catholics in Hanoi and is also visited by many tourists who come to see its beautiful architecture and to learn about the history of Catholicism in Vietnam. The cathedral is open to the public and is a popular spot for visitors to take photos and explore.

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Hanoi’s Old Quarter

The Old Quarter: a historic neighborhood located near the lake, known for its narrow streets, traditional houses, and bustling markets.

In addition to its cultural and historical significance, Sword Lake is also a popular recreational area for locals and tourists alike. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful scenery and take a leisurely walk around the lake, or rent a boat and explore the lake by water. The lake is also surrounded by a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a popular place to relax and socialize.