West Lake (Vietnamese: Ho Tay) is the biggest freshwater lake of northwest center of Hanoi, Vietnam. With a shore length of 17 km (about 10.6 miles) and 500 hectares (about 5 km2) in area, this is the largest lake of the capital and a well-known place for recreation with many surrounding gardens, hotels and villas. If you are in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, you may wonder what are the things to do in West Lake. Going to coffee shops, eating at traditional restaurants, visiting pagodas: there are many activities to do there. That’s why we will provide you the most beautiful places to help you explore West Lake.
1. Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the oldest temples in Hanoi. Located in the middle of West Lake, this temple is dubbed the "A pearl in the West Lake". With the historical value as well as the taciturn beauty, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a cultural heritage that needs to be well maintained and preserved.
The last major repair to the temple was undertaken in 1815 when the main sanctuary, reception hall and posterior hall of the dead were restored. The pagoda is one of the main parts of the Tran Quoc Temple for it holds the important monk's ashes. Most of the pagodas were constructed in the 17th century but the tallest pagoda was refined in 2004. The pagodas are red because in Chinese and Vietnamese culture red symbolizes luck and prosperity.
At the main shrine, the visitors are given incense to be burned. Visitors to the shrine also give offerings like food or small amounts of money as a present for the gods to give themselves good luck. Incense is burned to send wishes to the gods and to receive good luck in return. Incense is presented in odd numbers because odd numbers are considered lucky in Chinese and Vietnamese culture. Even numbers such as the number 4 are considered unlucky because the word 4 sounds like the word 'death' in Chinese. People present offerings without meat because the monks that live in Tran Quoc are vegetarian.
2. Quan Thanh Temple
Quan Thanh Temple, formerly known as Tran Vu Temple, is a Taoist temple in Hanoi. Dated to the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to Xuan Wu, or Tran Vu in Vietnamese, one of the principal deities in Taoism. As one of the Four Sacred Temples of the capital, Quan Thanh Temple is located near West Lake in a ward of the same name: Quan Thanh Ward; and is one of the leading tourist destinations in Hanoi. The temple's name means Place of the Gods. The name of the long street running by the temple is also called 'Quan Thanh' street.
Quan Thanh Pagoda involves the beautiful gate, the shrines, the big bronze statue of Tran Vu insides as well as the banyan tree and many carved poems. Its architectural highlight is the big bronze statue of Tran Vu. The statue is placed in the center of the main shrine. It was made of black bronze by skillful artisans and presented to Quan Thanh Temple in 1677. With the height of 3.96 meters and the weight of nearly 4000 kilograms, this statue is the second biggest bronze statue in Vietnam.
The temple currently has writing in ancient Chinese due to Chinese rules over Vietnam for around a thousand years. During the 17th century, French missionaries began to write the Vietnamese language using Latin symbols. In the early 20th century, Vietnam officially adopted the Latin alphabets for their writing. Nowadays only a few Vietnamese can read and understand the ancient Chinese symbols.
3. Truc Bach Lake
Truc Bach Lake is located to the Southeast of West Lake, Hanoi. It is separated from West Lake only by Thanh Nien Street, so tourists can walk there from West Lake within a few minutes. It used to be a part of West Lake until the 17th century when local people built a narrow dike to separate it from the rest of West Lake in order to raise fish. The inhabitants of the Truc Yen Village, located on the south shore of the newly formed lake, were in the business of making bamboo blinds and hence cultivated a small variety of bamboo. In 1957 and 1958, major Thanh Nien Road was established between the lakes. In 1730s, the Trinh Lord had Truc Lam Palace constructed on the lake shore. The building first served as a pleasure palace but was later converted into a prison for royal concubines found guilty of crime. The silk they produced, known as "Bamboo Village Silk" became famous for its beauty.
In 1967, United States politician John McCain’s plane was shot down while bombarding over this area. John McCain jumped into Truc Bach Lake and was arrested by Vietnamese people. Nowadays, there is a monument built on the bank of Truc Bach Lake to memorize this historical event. Truc Bach Lake is much smaller than West Lake, so you can walk around. This is the place where you can find modern hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
4. West Lake Water Park
The West Lake Water Park covers an area of 35,560 square meters complex with disparate entertainment sections. Among them are seven sliding lanes with the average height of 12 meters, of which two are high-speed lanes ever installed in Vietnam with the height of 14.5 meters. Visitors seeking for strong high surf don’t need to go to the seas because West Lake Water Park features a 3 meters depth wave-making pool with its waves of 1,2 meters high. Extreme experiences can be collected in a system of swinging ropes and diving trip to hanoi pool of 3,5 meters in depth. For ones enjoy relaxing moment may lay on a buoy, then let the artificial currents of the 450 meters long “lazy-stream” drive around the park while enjoy sunbathing and sightseeing the poetic West Lake outside the complex.
Located right beside the water park is Moon Park with dozens of games for youngsters and kids varying from thrilling games like high-speed train, dropping down from height to games which are more appropriate for kids like driving carts, bubble house, or bumping cars. Here, you can also found Thang Long roller-coaster and the magnificent wheel lifting ones to a height of 60 meters, offering the whole great view of the West Lake and part of Hanoi. West Lake Water Park is worth being the first rank attraction in not only Hanoi but also Northern Vietnam for visitors after busy days at work.
5. Trinh Cong Son walking street
The Trinh Cong Son Walking Street is on Trinh Cong Son Street behind the Ho Tay Water Park and part of the alley 431 Au Co, 612 Lac Long Quan Street (Tay Ho District, Hanoi). It is named after one of the most famous musicians in Vietnamese history, Trinh Cong Son.
This is a completely new walking-only space, right next to the lotus ponds around the West Lake area. The stalls here are inspired by the architecture of the ancient streets of Hanoi, Hoi An, with bold regional cultural identity influence. This makes Trinh Cong Son walking street an entirely different experience compared to the one near Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter.
There are 60 kiosks along the street modeled after the ancient housing architecture in Hanoi and Hoi An where exploers can buy West Lake street food such as shrimp cakes, snail noodles and steamed rice, or handicrafts and souvenirs. There is also a large outdoor stage where they play the music of Trinh Cong Son as well as puppet shows and popular Vietnamese music such as Quan ho. Trinh Cong Son Walking Street on West Lake Road, Hanoi, Vietnam is the perfect place for weekend relaxation and exposure to Vietnamese culture.
It cannot be denied that West Lake has become increasingly popular with visitors thanks to its unique beauty. Hope you will have useful information and enjoy a great time in West Lake.