One reason I love Hanoi is this stunning lake. Serene, spellbinding, and picture-perfect – makes for a pleasant walk, and you will definitely walk by it more than once a day. And because the Old Quarter surrounds it, it is a good reference point when navigating the city.
Hoan Kiem Lake is the heart of Hanoi. Everything happens around it, from early morning workouts (think yoga, tai chi and even aerobics) to old men whiling away time playing mahjong and vendors selling their stuff.
Not to mention the wandering tourists that flock to this mesmerizing lake. Never a dull moment in this part of the city, that’s for sure.
What makes the lake so smashing is the striking red bridge called The Huc Bridge leaping out of the serene blue-green water.
It connects the shore to the Jade Island on the northern coast of the lake.
On the island stands the Ngoc Son Temple (the Temple of the Jade Mountain).
Legend has it that in the mid 15th century, Heaven sent Emperor Le Loi a magical sword, which he used to battle against the neighboring countries, driving away the Chinese from Vietnam. When peace prevailed, a giant golden turtle grabbed the sword and disappeared in the depths of the lake (named Thuy Qua then) inspiring the name Hoan Kiem , which means Lake of the Restored Sword.