Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake, West Lake has a circumference of 17km and houses many of the city’s historic places of interest around its perimeter – including Vietnam’s oldest pagoda and one of Vietnam’s four sacred temples.
The lake attracts many locals and tourists seeking respite from the busy city, providing a sanctuary of great natural beauty with plenty of quiet spots in the sizeable lush gardens surrounding the lake.
Known locally as Tay Ho Lake there are a host of stunning architectural gems surrounding this spot in addition to one or two entertainment venues and a smattering of high-end hotels.
The actual creation of West Lake still remains a mystery although one legend claims that it was formed when the Dragon King Lac Long Quan drowned a wicked fox spirit with nine tails in his lair. An alternative folklore source claims the lake was formed when a large Chinese buffalo mistakenly confused a pagoda temple bell with its mothers call and ran so fiercely into a small hollow that the lake was made.
West Lake is a beautiful place to while away an afternoon, there are boats for hire and lunch on a floating restaurant makes a novel dining option. Notable points of interest at West Lake include Tran Quoc Pagoda which was built in the 6th century making it Vietnam’s oldest temple. hanoi travel
Tran Quoc Pagoda resides on a small island built by King Ly Nam De as a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. The pagoda is particularly stunning when viewed early evening at sunset. The other main attraction is Quan Thanh Temple located at the West Lake crossroads of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street. One of Vietnam’s ancient Four Sacred Temples built during the reign of King Ly Thai To from 1010 to 1028; the temple features detailed wood carvings of sacred animals, trees and flowers in its structure. Quan Thanh Temple is open for all to enter with sightseers encouraged to pray for health, luck and happiness during their visit.
The lake used to be part of the Red River when it was a retreat reserved for the relaxation of mandarins and kings, today the lake offers so much to enjoy with a unique fusion of nature at her best and some of the most historic cultural sights in the whole of Vietnam.