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Hoan Kiem Lake

by danize.com@gmail.com

Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular attraction in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam. The name means «Lake of the Returned Sword», and it is associated with a legend about a king who received a magical sword from a turtle god to fight against the Chinese invaders. The lake is surrounded by historical and cultural sites, such as the Ngoc Son Temple, the Huc Bridge, and the Thap Rua Tower.

The lake is open to the public every day, and there is no entrance fee. However, if you want to visit the Ngoc Son Temple, you need to buy a ticket for 30,000 VND (about 1.3 USD) at the booth near the Huc Bridge. The temple is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays, and from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekends and holidays.

To get to Hoan Kiem Lake, you can take a bus, a taxi, or a motorbike. The lake is located in the Old Quarter, which is a busy and crowded area with narrow streets and lots of traffic. If you are not familiar with the traffic rules and culture in Vietnam, you may want to avoid driving yourself and opt for public transportation or a taxi instead. You can also walk or cycle around the lake, which is about 1.8 km in circumference.

Some tips for visiting Hoan Kiem Lake are:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, as you will be walking a lot.
  • Bring water and snacks, as there are not many options around the lake.
  • Be respectful of the local culture and religion, especially when visiting the temple.
  • Avoid visiting during peak hours (around 8:00 am and 5:00 pm), as the lake can get very crowded and noisy.
  • Watch out for scams and pickpockets, as they may target tourists around the lake.

You can also join a guided tour of Hoan Kiem Lake and other attractions in Hanoi. There are many options available online or at your hotel. A typical tour may last for 3 to 4 hours and cost around 20 to 30 USD per person. You will learn more about the history and culture of Hanoi, as well as enjoy some local food and drinks along the way.

Some prohibitions when visiting Hoan Kiem Lake are:

  • Do not litter or pollute the lake.
  • Do not feed or disturb the animals in the lake, especially the turtles.
  • Do not swim or fish in the lake.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol around the lake.

Some things to see when visiting Hoan Kiem Lake are:

  • The Ngoc Son Temple, which is dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century, as well as other historical and mythical figures.
  • The Huc Bridge, which means «The Bridge of Rising Sunlight», and connects the Ngoc Son Temple with the shore. It is painted in red and has a curved shape.
  • The Thap Rua Tower, which means «The Turtle Tower», and stands on a small island in the middle of the lake. It was built in the 19th century to commemorate the legend of the returned sword.
  • The Turtle Museum, which is located inside the Ngoc Son Temple complex. It displays some preserved specimens of giant soft-shell turtles that used to live in the lake.
  • The Water Puppet Theatre, which is located near the north end of the lake. It is a traditional art form that originated in northern Vietnam. You can watch a show that features colorful puppets performing on a water stage with live music and narration.

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