After being waterlogged for over a week it was a pleasure to arrive in Hanoi where there wasn’t a rain drop in sight. It was cooler than I expected, but still pleasant. The guide books had warned me Hanoi was going to be cool compared to the rest of South East Asia this time of year so it wasn’t a total surprise.
I spent my first afternoon in Hanoi with a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and a visit to the temple. It was a bit of a walk from the hotel and the streets of Hanoi are a little confusing. Fortunately google maps got me there without much issue.
Hoan Kiem Lake
The Hoan Kiem lake is located in the center of historic downtown Hanoi. The name means “Lake of the Restored Sword,” and is tied to Vietnamese mythology.
The legend says that in 1428 the Emperor was boating on the lake when the Golden Turtle God appeared and asked for his magical sword to be returned. The emperor returned the sword after he had finished fighting the Chinese and renamed the lake to honor the event.
Today the lake is enjoyed by locals and tourists who come to walk the tree lined path or relax on the benches along the shore.
Temple Of The Jade Mountain
At one end of the lake is the Temple of The Jade Mountain or Ngoc Son Temple, which sits on a small island just off shore. It is a small temple dedicated to a local Vietnamese hero. I paid the small entrance fee and had a look around.
At the other end of the lake sits Turtle Tower on a small islet. It’s said that it was built to honor the Emperor Le Loi who defeated the Chinese and returned the sword to the Turtle God. The tower is not accessible and is in need of a bit of repair, but it is still a well-loved icon in Hanoi.
I finish my walk around the lake before heading over to the old quarter to have a look around.
One of the historic old city gates blends in among the shop houses.
I stop off at Chops for a burger to end my first day of sightseeing.