Hoan Kiem Lake is centrally located amidst the hustle and bustle of the city of Hanoi, the charming capital of Vietnam. The lake is the most significant attraction in the old city and the Turtle Tower which is called the Thap Rùa which was built over two hundred years ago in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake serves as the symbolic representation of the city of Hanoi.
Similar to most of the historical places in Asia, this lake also has a legend which traces back to ancient days. It is said that the King Le Loi gifted his miraculous sword called Heaven’s Will which helped him to win at the battle against the Ming Dynasty back to Kim Qui, the Golden Turtle God in the green lake. As a result of this legend it is currently named as the ‘Lake of Returned Sword’ or ‘Sword Lake’. The Thap Rua or The Turtle Tower which is in the middle of the lake is connected to this legend.
The lake is full of tortoise. If you are fortunate enough you will get a glimpse of these Asian soft-shelled tortoise or rather giant turtles emerging out of water from time to time and it is believed to be a powerful sign of good luck for anyone. These aquatic creatures are associated with their religion and considered as holy animals and the lake is regarded as a sanctified home for these turtles.
The lake is tasseled with myrtles, tamarind trees, flame trees and willows. It is absolutely a breathtaking place to experience the liveliness of the ancient Town of Hanoi, whether in the dawn of the day for strolling or Tai Chi exercises or the end of the day for colorful street lamps and lights with friends and families and romantic hideouts. One could not plan a holiday to Hanoi without some resting time at the lake.