The West Lake is always a top destination of any Hanoi travel itinerary. With a perfect combination of a poetic lake, solemn historic areas, amazing activities, and unforgettable food, the lake has become an unmissable place when tourists visit Hanoi. If you still wonder about things to do and see at this place, read this article to the end.
1. The origin of West Lake in Hanoi
Located in the northwestern center of Hanoi, the West Lake is the largest lake of the capital city, with a shore length of 17 kilometers and 500 hectares in area. It was originally a part of the nearby Red River. Frequent floods and erosions resulted in its current location nowadays.
The West Lake had many names, which were Kim Nguu Lake, Mu Suong Lake, or Xac Cao Pond. Each of them was tied to a legend regarding the origin of the legendary West Lake.
Along the shoreline of the West Lake, besides Vietnamese historical sites, there are many hotels, restaurants, and cafes built in Western architectural styles. With its charm and historical significance, the lake has been mentioned in many songs, stories, and poems about Hanoi.
2. TOP 5 things to do in West Lake Hanoi for your perfect excursion
Visiting Hanoi’s largest lake, you should not miss out on the following activities:
2.1. Take part in recreational activities at West Lake Water Park
Taking up a corner of the West Lake, this busy and interesting water park takes its inspiration from the gorgeous city of Santorini in Greece.
Coming to this park, visitors can try the many exciting slides, including those for solo players, those for duos, and those with mats at a height of 14.5 meters for brave hearts. You can also play at the wave pool, which has strong waves of 1.2 meters high and a depth of 3 meters.
West Lake Water Park offers 3 types of entry tickets for different groups of visitors:
- Those under 90 centimeters tall: Free
- Those from 90 centimeters to 135 centimeters tall: 130,000 VND/ticket on weekdays and 150,000 VND/ticket on weekends and public holidays
- Those above 135 centimeters tall: 155,000 VND/ticket on weekdays and 180,000 VND/ticket on weekends and public holidays
*Note: After 4:30 pm every day, the entry ticket price is lowered to 100,000 VND.
2.2. Try SUP boating with your friends at the West Lake
Besides admiring the charming scenery of the West Lake, visitors should not miss out on trying Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding, a water sport that comes from Hawaii.
While SUP boarding is similar to canoeing and kayaking, it is easier for newbies. Participants can stand, sit, or kneel on the paddleboard and take part in group activities. Before paddling, you are fitted with a life jacket to ensure safety.
The ideal time for SUP boarding at the West Lake is late afternoon. Currently, the Umove SUP Club offers SUP boarding service for 200,000 VND/SUP/half day on weekdays and 250,000 VND/SUP/half day on weekends.
2.3. Capture great moments at West Lake Flower Valley
Situated on Nhat Chieu Street, near Dam Tri lotus pond, West Lake Flower Valley has recently become a tourist attraction for both Hanoi’s locals and international visitors.
This "flower heaven" brings a beautiful vista over vast flower fields. It is typically crowded on weekends. A variety of seasonal flowers, including daisies, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, violets, and Catharanthus roses, are grown here. Ho Tay Flower Valley is at its most beautiful from late fall to early spring (September to March), when thousands of flowers are in bloom. The entrance ticket to the flower valley is 80,000 VND/ticket for children and 120,000 VND/ticket for adults.
2.4. Stroll around Thanh Nien Street and Trinh Cong Son Street
Trinh Cong Son Walking Street is located about 500 meters away from the West Lake. It bears the name of a famous Vietnamese composer. This is the second pedestrian street in Hanoi, which runs 900 meters long from Alley 431 on Au Co Street to Alley 612 on Lac Long Quan Street. It is open every week, from 5 pm on Friday to 11 pm on Sunday.
Along the street, there are 60 kiosks designed after the ancient houses of Hanoi and Hoi An. Here, tourists can buy lots of street foods, such as shrimp cakes, snail noodles, steamed rice, or handicraft products and souvenirs.
Besides, there is a big outdoor stage where Trinh Cong Son’s music, puppet shows, and Vietnamese traditional music are performed.
2.5. Enjoy coffee at beautiful cafés by the lakeside of West Lake
Walking around the lake is the best way to get a taste of the local life, yet, sipping a cup of coffee while taking in the scenery may sound even better to many travelers.
Along the West Lake, it is easy to find cafés with exquisite designs. What makes this spot unique is that a lot of these coffee shops offer a rooftop area where you can get a better view of the lake. There are hundreds of cafés that can suit all budgets here, so make sure to pick one where you can enjoy the view.
3. Enrich your trip to West Lake at some relics and sacred places
The West Lake is dotted with pagodas, temples, and other culturally significant monuments. Here are some of the most outstanding places to visit:
- Tran Quoc Pagoda
Located on an islet within the West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in the capital of Vietnam. It was built in the 6th century during the reign of King Ly Nam De and is regarded as a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. Coming here, you will be surprised by a number of intricate statues that were carved in 1939, each of which has a unique facial feature.
- Kim Lien Pagoda
Founded in the 12th Century by the Ly Dynasty, Kim Lien Pagoda is considered one of the 10 most ancient architectural monuments in Vietnam. The pagoda has complex and elegant architecture. It has a statue of Buddha, Princess Tu Hoa, and Lord Trinh Giang, among others.
- Tay Ho Temple
Located on a peninsula in the West Lake, Tay Ho Temple is regarded as one of the most sacred temples in Hanoi. Both the locals and visitors from different parts of Vietnam come here to light incense and pray for good luck and peace. The temple is attractive with its gigantic banyan trees and the peaceful view across West Lake’s eastern shore.
- Quan Thanh Temple
This temple is located on the corner of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street, facing the West Lake. Built in the Ly Dynasty, it is one of the four temples constructed in Hanoi to protect the city from evil spirits. If you are interested in history and culture, you should definitely pay a visit to this temple.
- Tao Sach Pagoda
Located on the west bank of the West Lake, Tao Sach Pagoda dates back to the Le Dynasty. The pagoda was built in a traditional style, having a triple-doorway gate, contemplation rooms, and other religious constructions. This place carries with it an extremely pure and gentle atmosphere, along with numerous fascinating stories about Vietnamese history. Visiting this pagoda, tourists also have a chance to see various Han Nom documents and priceless relics.
In addition to the West Lake and nearby attractions, you should also visit other famous destinations in Hanoi, such as Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE Times City. Vinpearl Aquarium is one of the most advanced aquarium systems in Vietnam. With more than 30,000 different freshwater and saltwater marine specimens, this place opens the door for visitors to explore a colorful underwater world.
Meanwhile, VinKE is an entertainment haven for kids where they can receive vocational guidance. Here, your children can try many job simulation games to learn more about their dream careers.
4. How and when to visit the West Lake for the best experience?
➟ How to get to the West Lake?
As the West Lake is located in the northwest of the city center, you can easily get here from any place in Hanoi. You can refer to some West Lake Hanoi directions as follows:
- By bus: You can take buses number 13, 33, 50, or 70
- By taxi/motorbike: You can take a taxi or motorbike to reach the West Lake. The average fare for a taxi ride in Hanoi ranges from 11,500 VND to 17,500 VND/kilometer. You can also take a motorcycle taxi through ride-hailing apps, such as Grab or Gojek, to easily get around Hanoi at reasonable costs.
➟ The best time to visit the West Lake?
Hanoi has 4 seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each season gives Hanoi a different coat, and the same goes for West Lake. It may be fresh in the spring, vibrant in the summer, romantic in the fall, and tranquil in the winter. Therefore, you can visit the lake at any time of the year. You can come here early in the morning to enjoy the fresh air and stunning sunrise vista, or in the evening to see the romantic night scenery.
Visiting Hanoi without going to the West Lake would be a big waste. Its natural beauty and huge cultural values will surely take everyone’s breath away. Hopefully, the information in this article will make your exploration of the West Lake easier and more fulfilling.