West Lake, in the Tay Ho district, is quite simply the prettiest and largest manmade lake in Hanoi. It stretches across 17km and provides a scenic getaway. One can have lunch on the floating restaurants or hire a boat simply for gliding through the calm waters. Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple are some of the cultural attractions located closeby.
West Lake is located in the northwest part of Hanoi. There's a pathway circling the lake which is a popular cycling track for the locals and tourists alike. A part of this massive lake is divided by Thanh Nien road to form Truc Bach Lake. The pristine lake is lined by luxury hotels and villas, boutique cafes and fine dine restaurants, lush green gardens and an array of shady trees. With an area of about 15km, this magnificent lake is best explored on a bicycle. West Lake is also a great place to take a leisurely stroll, stopping in between for refreshments in the cafes on the shore if you have a day in your hand.
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History of West Lake
Once upon a time, when West Lake used to be part of the Red River, it was surrounded by royal palaces. It was a retreat for the kings. Today, the palaces have been replaced by luxury hotels and villas. The district Tay Ho was earlier a cluster of fishing villages on the outskirts of Hanoi. The district got a facelift when a paved road was built around the West Lake. Now the area around the lake are lined with luxury apartments, boutique hotels and bistros. It has turned out to be the most important point of interest in the city which offers nature, culture and nightlife at its best.
Attractions to visit near West Lake
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda, which stands on a small island on West Lake, is the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Hanoi, built in the 6th century by King Ly Nam De. This beautiful Buddhist monument was originally located on the banks of the Red River. Due to flooding and erosion it was moved to Kim Ngu island, on the southeast part of West Lake. A causeway connects the pagoda to the shore. It has numerous shrines and several statues. The pagoda, known for the intricacy of its design, is an architecture marvel. It's the perfect place to watch the sun go down in Hanoi.
Quan Thanh Temple
Quan Thanh Temple, one of the four sacred temples of ancient Hanoi, is located at the West Lake crossroads of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street. It was built during the reign of King Ly Thai To and is a significant landmark in the history of the city. It is said that the temple was built to protect Hanoi's citadel from evil spirits. It is a grand example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, where you can find maze-like wood carvings, the imposing three-door entrance and the gigantic bronze statue that weighs four tons are sure to blow you away. People from all religions are welcome here.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a place where the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the first president of Vietnam and one of the most important figures of Modern Vietnam, is stored. The Mausoleum, which is just 1 km away from the southern part of West Lake, is a place of interest for all history buffs. The Ho Chi Minh Museum is situated about 300 meters from the Mausoleum, built in the 90s.
Kim Lien Pagoda
Kim Lien Pagoda, also known as the Golden Lotus Pagoda, was built on the Nghi Tam Peninsula on the bank of West Lake. This Pagoda is one of the most spectacular pagodas in Hanoi. It was recognized as a National, Historical and Cultural Monument of Vietnam in 1962. Originally, a royal palace under the Ly dynasty, this pagoda has been renovated many times but still manages to retain its ancient architectural features.
Congvienhotay (Ho Tay Water Park)
Congvienhotay is a large modern water theme park in the northernmost part of West Lake. Commonly known as Ho Tay Lake Water Park, it offers a collection of fun water rides and is full of attractions for kids and adults alike. This is the go-to place for adventure seekers looking for a quick adrenaline rush. Right beside the water park, there is the Moon Park which offers dry rides and thrilling games. The giant ferris wheel present here goes up to a height of 60m, offering a magnificent view of West Lake.
Legend of the West Lake
You are likely to come across many tales about the creation of West Lake. One story says that it was formed when the Dragon King Lac Long Quan drowned a nine-tailed evil fox spirit in his burrow. Another version is that the lake was formed from the hoof prints of a large golden buffalo calf who confused a giant pagoda bell to be that of its mother’s call and came rampaging and its trampling formed the lake. However, in actuality, the lake was formed when the red river changed its course from its usual path.
How To Reach West Lake
West Lake is located in the centre of Hanoi city which makes it easily accessible to tourists. It is a 30-minute drive from the airport. It's accessible within a 15-minute drive from Hanoi Old Quarter and is close to Ho Chi Minh Museum.
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