Hanoi has emerged as a fascinating and unconventional tourist destination over the years. People, weary of visiting the cliched and over crowded places, now prefer Hanoi as a charming city unique in its own beauty and culture. Hanoi with its distinctive French influence, has a lot to offer to its visitors. Visit the Hoan Kiem Lake, Water Puppet Theater, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda and the Fine Arts Museum.
Hoan Kiem Lake is located at the heart of Hanoi. The name literally means ‘The Lake of the Restored Sword’. The name refers to the 15th-century legend in which the nobleman Le Loi, who fought for the Vietnamese against Ming China, received a sword from a magic turtle living in the lake. The nobleman defeated the Ming and returned home in victory. One day, the emperor was boating in the lake when the turtle appeared asking for the sword to restore it to its heavenly owner. In memory of this event, the emperor built the Tortoise Tower on an island at the south end of the lake. Enormous turtles still live in the lake today. When they are spotted, it is supposed to foreshadow the death of one of the country’s leaders.
Features of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi
– Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi is one of the most enchanting spots in the city.
– The early morning misty air is energetic for people who throng the footpath that circles the lake for morning exercise, badminton and tai chi.
– The lake serves as a meeting point and performance venue during major festivals such as Tet and for holidays like National Day.
– The apparently unique species of turtles, known as Rafetus swimhoei, are sometimes considered as the largest freshwater turtles on earth.
– Sometimes, one of these near-mythical creatures appears on the surface of the water for air. According to scientists, this happens due to the increasing pollution in the lake.
– During the day, most of the people who throng the place, are either tourists or workers from surrounding government offices.
– Tour buses and taxis park at the North end of the lake, near the gates and foot-bridge which lead to the Ngoc Son Pagoda.
– You will find many young people selling post cards, maps, and paperback books here.
– You will find photographers eager to take your snap with their old-fashioned 35mm cameras and young boys offering shoe shin.
– You will be amazed by their fluency in English and it’s another kind of an experience to have a conversation with them.