Hoan Kiem Lake history is a fascinating tale entwined with Vietnamese culture. The legend of “the lake of the returned sword” tells the story of Emperor Le Loi and a divine turtle in the 15th century. With its rich history and tranquil beauty, Hoan Kiem Lake has now become a cherished symbol of Hanoi and a not-to-be-missed attraction in any Hanoi travel itinerary.
1. An overview of Hoan Kiem Lake history
Nestled in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam capital, Hoan Kiem Lake is a shimmering gem that graces the city's landscape. Having a total area of 12 hectares, the strategic Hoan Kiem Lake location makes it a highlighted landmark for locals and tourists worldwide.
1.1. Different names in Hoan Kiem Lake history
Hoan Kiem Lake had five different names throughout its history.
Initially, the lake was called “Luc Thuy Lake”, or Green Lake in English, due to the green of its water all year round. Later, it was called “Thuy Quan Lake”, or Naval Lake in English, as it was used as a training ground for the navy during the Tran Dynasty.
According to Hoan Kiem Lake history, the lake was renamed “Ta Vong Lake” and “Huu Vong Lake” under the reign of Trinh lords. This time, the lake was divided into two smaller ones, one called Ta Vong and the other called Huu Vong Lake.
In the reign of Emperor Tu Duc (1847-1883), Huu Vong Lake was renamed "Thuy Quan Lake", while Ta Vong Lake was renamed “Hoan Kiem Lake”. In the late 19th century, during French colonization, Thuy Quan Lake was completely landfilled, leaving only Hoan Kiem Lake.
The name “Hoan Kiem Lake”, or Sword Lake in English, originated from the Le Dynasty in the 15th century. It was associated with the legend of Emperor Le Loi returning the sword to the divine turtle after defeating the Chinese Ming Dynasty.
1.2. Hoan Kiem Lake legend
Hoan Kiem Lake story is one of the most famous folktales in Vietnamese culture. According to Hoan Kiem Lake history, during the 15th century, Vietnam was under the Ming Dynasty's rule. One day, Emperor Le Loi was gifted a magical sword by a divine turtle while boating on the lake, which helped him achieve victory and drive out the Ming forces.
After the victory, the Emperor revisited this beautiful lake. He was boating through the still waters when the enormous golden turtle emerged to reclaim the sword. Le Loi returned the sword to the turtle, then renamed the lake “Ho Hoan Kiem” or “Ho Guom”, which means “lake of the returned sword”.
Due to this legend, the Hoan Kiem Lake turtle is revered here. A real turtle used to live in the lake, which is considered an incarnation of the divine turtle in the history of Hoan Kiem Lake. Unfortunately, it died in 2016. It was embalmed and now displayed at Vietnam National Museum of Nature.
2. The cultural significance of Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake has long been intertwined with Vietnam’s history and deeply ingrained in the spiritual life of Hanoians. Along with precious historical and cultural relics such as Ngoc Son Temple, Turtle Tower, The Huc Bridge, Pen Tower, Ink Slab, the Statue of King Le, etc., Hoan Kiem Vietnam has become an impressive hub of culture and tourism.
During Tet and other Vietnamese holidays, flocks of people gather at Hoan Kiem Lake to welcome the new year and participate in significant historical events. Moreover, it only takes one minute to walk from the lake to Hanoi Old Quarter, one of the most renowned tourist attractions in the capital city.
3. A glance at Hoan Kiem Lake Vietnam today
Hoan Kiem Lake is now an ideal place to observe the pace of life of locals. Once you visit Hanoi, you will understand why Hoan Kiem Lake is the pride of all Hanoians. The picturesque beauty and tranquil ambiance of the lake make it an unmissable destination for tourists all around the world.
Visiting the lake around 6 AM every morning, you can see the locals practice tai chi on the lake's shore. Exploring the lake during sunset is a magical experience, offering opportunities for capturing exquisite photographs. Besides, visiting temples around the lake is a great way to learn about Hoan Kiem Lake history.
Strolling along Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street on the weekends, you will be immersed in a lively experience with cultural performances, folk games, music, and dance. Many street food stalls offer an enticing variety of local delicacies and snacks, in case you are wondering what to do in Hoan Kiem Lake.
For a truly memorable trip in Hanoi, don't forget to visit these tourist attractions also: Dong Xuan Market, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi Opera House, Ta Hien Street, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, Long Bien Bridge, Hoa Lo Prison, Vietnam National Museum of History, Bach Ma Temple, etc.
In addition to exploring Hanoi’s history and culture, it is highly recommended to visit VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium Times City, VinWonders Hanoi Wave Park, and VinWonders Hanoi Water Park for entertainment.
VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium offers a mesmerizing aquarium and many educational activities for kids. Meanwhile, VinWonders Hanoi Wave Park and VinWonders Hanoi Water Park provide enchanting wave pools, thrilling water slides, and various water-based activities for all ages.
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After visiting Hanoi, tourists can travel to other beautiful destinations in Vietnam, such as Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, and Ha Long. In these destinations, staying in Vinpearl’s hotels and resorts is a not-to-be-missed experience. From elegant villas with breathtaking views, exquisite restaurants to diverse entertaining options, Vinpearl provides a haven of comfort and relaxation for every traveler.
For an even more exhilarating experience, don't miss out on the entertainment complexes of VinWonders, where you can indulge in a fun-filled world of thrilling rides, games, shows, and much more.
Hoan Kiem Lake history is steeped in legends and great cultural significance. The lake has been the pride of Hanoians throughout the centuries and remained a prominent symbol of the country. Don't forget to add Hoan Kiem Lake to your bucket list and experience the blend of tradition and modernity in Hanoi.