How to visit Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi?

Hoan Kiem Lake, also called Sword Lake, is a lovely freshwater lake with an area of ​​about 12 hectares located in the center of Hanoi city. The lake was also well-known as Luc Thuy lake because of its green water all year round.

hoan kiem lake hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo: Xuanduongvan87/Pixabay

With that great location, Ho Hoan Kiem is an ideal destination for walking activities and exploring the cultural and natural beauty hidden in Hanoi’s old quarter. This site has become a must-see attraction in Hanoi for many domestic and foreign tourists.

Please come with our Hanoi travel guide to explore more about this place!

Hoan Kiem Lake

The lake locates at the intersection of the famous old quarters, such as Hang Dao street, Luong Van Can street, and Hang Ngang street, connecting with the new quarters built by the French more than a century ago, such as Trang Thi, Trang Tien, Dinh Tien Hoang, Ba Trieu, and Hang Ba.

  • Address: Hang Trong Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Entrance fee: Free to visit the lake, but 30,000 VND/guest for visiting Ngoc Son Temple in the island in the lake.

The Legend of Sword Lake

At the beginning of the 15th century, Le Loi King accidentally picked up a golden bright sword engraved with the words Thuan Thien (following heaven) and Loi (name of the king). He believed that this gift came from heaven, supporting him in fighting again the invaders. Thanks to the golden sword, he and the other dignitaries won the Ming army, pushing them out of the country.

In early 1428, when traveling on the lake, the king saw the Golden Tortoise floating on the lake’s surface; and the sword beside him moved and glowed. The king understood the idea of ​​returning the precious sword to the Turtle. Since then, the name Hoan Kiem Lake, meaning returning the sword, was called as a gratitude to the Supreme Beings who supported keeping the land peacefully. Hoan Kiem Lake has been preserved as a vital historical and cultural relic of Hanoi, Vietnam.

sword lake hanoi

The best time to visit Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake covers a beautiful new style all year round. Despite that, visiting this lake in late autumn, from the end of Sep to Nov, is the most beautiful. At this time, the weather in Hanoi is very cool, suitable for relaxing and walking around it.

Also, you can have a good chance to inhale the passionate aroma of milk flowers blooming around the lake, see pretty yellow leaves fall across the old streets, and enjoy tasty Hanoi street food on nearby streets.

The famous tourist attractions around Hoan Kiem Lake

When coming to Hoan Kiem Lake, you may see other destinations around the lake. Please check them below!

1. Turtle Tower in the center of Sword Lake

turtle tower hanoi

On Turtle Island in the middle of Sword Lake Lake, you can see a Turtle Tower built in 1884 – 1886. The tower has a typical architecture consisting of 3 floors in a rectangular shape and gradually getting smaller from the bottom up. The doors around the tower come from this side to another. The Turtle Tower has become the symbol of Hanoi because of its historical and cultural value.

2. Pen Tower and Ink Box

pen tower
Pen Tower. @trang.nguynx

Located in the northeast of the lake, Thap But and Dai Nghien (Pen Tower and Ink Box) are two connecting architectural works, which were built in 1865. These works are the symbol of the studious tradition of the Hanoian people in particular and Vietnam in general.

The Ink Box consists of 3 legs, which is the image of 3 toads, on the body is engraved a meaningful poem consisting of 64 Chinese characters composed by Nguyen Van Sieu – a famous poet and cultural researcher (1799 – 1872). The Pen Tower has a 9m high brush with a pointed pen pointing straight up into the sky as writing in the blue heaven.

3. The Huc Bridge

the huc bridge
The Huc Bridge leading to Ngoc Son Temple. @punpham

The Huc Bridge with its red color connects the bank with Ngoc Son Temple in the lake. The bridge was built in 1865 with the meaning of collecting good things from heaven. The Hue bridge curves like a shrimp and is painted in light red, creating the unique ancient features of the bridge.

4. Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple built in the 19th century is a sacred one of the capital Hanoi. Ngoc means Jade and Son means mountain or island. So, Ngoc Son Temple means the Jade Island with temples on it.

The main place is two connected temples, worshiping Hung Dao Dai Vuong Tran Quoc Tuan and Van Xuong De Quan. In addition, the temple also worships Amitabha Buddha, La Dong Tan, and Quan Van Truong. This style of worship shows the spirit of unity and religious harmony of the Vietnamese people…

5. Hanoi Old Quarter

hanoi old quarter
A street in the old quarter. @hang_rongg

Around Hoan Kiem Lake are old streets of Hanoi such as Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Hang Trong, and Hang Duong, … Traveling to this area, you can have the opportunity to discover the colorful life and rich culture, and enjoy the traditional cuisine of Hanoi. You will find the old streets and the ancient houses of the70s – the 80s. An ancient Hanoi will be recreated.

6. Hanoi Opera House

hanoi opera house
Hanoi Opera House. @quynhkiukiu

The Hanoi Opera House near Sword Lake situates an imposing position in Cach Mang Thang Tam Square, at the beginning of Trang Tien street. This site was built in 1901 by the French according to the architecture of a miniature opera house. The design of the Opera House is similar to the European theaters in the early 20th century.

7. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

water puppet
Water puppets

Water puppetry is a typical traditional stage form of Hanoians in particular and people of the North in general. Performed in the water, the artists immerse themselves in the water to control the wooden puppets behind a screen. Lacquered wooden puppets have long been popular among art lovers in Vietnam and around the world. So, planning your time to come here and enjoying a water puppet show will give you a great experience to enrich your holidays in Hanoi.

Hoan Kiem Lake is a famous site with deep historical significance and pride in the hearts of the Hanoians and the Vietnamese people in general. The lake also takes an essential role in keeping fresh air and supports the local people to relax after working hard.

About the author


Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.