Hanoi Travel – Introduce to the Hoan Kiem Lake and Turtle Tower

Hanoi Travel – Introduce to the Hoan Kiem Lake and Turtle Tower

July 6, 2018 0 By vndiscover

Where is Hoan Kiem Lake?

Hoan Kiem lake, also known as Lake of the Returned Sword, is located in the heart of Hanoi and surrounded by Hang Khay, Le Thai To and Dinh Tien Hoang streets. Hoan Kiem in Vietnamese means “returning the sword”.

Located at a favorable location, at the intersection of the Old Quarter and the Backpacker Street, Hoan Kiem lake drives many Vietnamese and foreign tourists to visit and explore in their trip in Hanoi. Embraced by the surrounding green trees, Hoan Kiem lake has a natural beauty as a charming blue pearl in the heart of Hanoi. If you come here on a summer day, you will be amazed by the scenery covered in green colour dotted with the red of flamboyant, purple of giant crepe-myrtle and yellow of Bishop wood, all create a beautiful picture. In the autumn, it looks so gentle in the lush green colour of the itchytree, or sometimes breaths a sense of translucent beauty from the rows of willows in the early morning mist and the yellow leaves on the road around the lake. When coming here, you can enjoy the fresh air which you could not find anywhere else in Hanoi.


Hoan Kiem Lake has long existed, but before bearing its name as today, it has had many other names associated with different stories such as Luc Thuy lake (Green Water) because the water here has green colour all year round, or Thuy Quan lake (marine) because this is where the Imperial court conduct a military practice, until 15th century, the name was changed to Hoan Kiem lake (Sword Lake).

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In 15th century, it was named Hoan Kiem Lake. This name associates with the legend of King Le Thai To returning the sword to the god after defeating the Ming dynasty (China), and coming to the throne and established the prosperous Le dynasty.


Legend has it that, in the 15th century, Le Loi led the Lam Son uprising in Thanh Hoa against the Ming dynasty (China). One day, a fisherman while pulling the net suddenly saw an incredible sword in his net. He brought this sword to King Le Loi. After a period of time, during a battle, the King Le Loi was pursued by the enemy, when climbing a tall tree, he suddenly saw the hilt of a sword, remembering the sword the fisherman gave him, he brought it back home, fitted it with the sword. It was when he saw 2 words “Thuan Thien” (Heaven’s Will) on the sword. From then on, thanks to this precious sword, he won the battle and came to the throne in 1428.

In a boat trip on Luc Thuy Lake, suddenly a golden turtle emerged. When the king drew his sword pointing to the turtle, it bit the sword and dived to the bottom of the lake. Thought it was the message of heaven to let him borrow the sword to fight the enemy, now the country was in peace so the turtle came to bring back the sword. From then, the lake was renamed Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake)

However, at the end of the 16th century, the Trinh lords divided the lake into two parts named Huu Vong and Ta Vong. Then in 1884, the lake on the left (Huu Vong) was filled by French for construction, while the lake on the right (Ta Vong) is kept, which is Hoan Kiem lake (Sword Lake) today.


Turtle Tower is a small tower located on the islet of Sword lake, built in the late 19th century by a Vietnamese. He intended to bury his father there so that his future generations would have prosperous life (according to spiritual theory). Though his plan was not successful, but the tower was eventually completed and located at the centre of the lake so later it became the symbol of Hanoi.



If tourists choose to stay at guesthouses, hotels around the Old Quarter, just few steps, you will reach Hoan Kiem lake.

In case, visitors stay away from the centre, you can travel by taxi or bus. The bus route through Hoan Kiem lake is bus No. 08, 09, 14, 16, 31, 36 and 86. The operating time is from 5.05am to 10pm. In addition, you can come here by xe om (motorbike taxi) or rental motorbike.


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I do not do business in this website, I am Vietnamese and I want to guide you how to travel Vietnam save and easy. Please comment under any article if you need more information.