Finding Tranquility in the Heart of Hanoi - A Visit to Hoan Kiem Lake
The first thing you'll notice about Hoan Kiem is the iconic red Huc Bridge. This charming bridge has tremendous significance in Vietnamese culture, as it is believed to connect the earthly world to the sacred Jade Island on the lake. As you cross over the bridge, you'll feel like you're walking another world. On one side, you'll see the peaceful water of the lake, and on the other, you'll be surrounded by lush greenery. You can step foot on Jade Island and explore the stunning Ngoc Son Temple. The temple is dedicated to Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism and is home to various artifacts and sculptures. The temple is a perfect representation of Vietnam's unique blend of cultures and religions, and you're sure to leave feeling enlightened and inspired.
For those looking for a workout, Hoan Kiem has a beautiful running track that circles the entire lake. This is where locals come to exercise, socialize and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The 1.1km track is also a great spot for a serene early morning walk while admiring the beauty of the lake. If you're lucky enough to visit Hoan Kiem in the early hours, you might catch locals practicing Tai Chi or doing other forms of exercise near the water's edge. This is a great way to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture while keeping fit at the same time.
Another interesting thing to do around Hoan Kiem is to observe the locals. You'll notice that the lake has a very communal vibe with people all walks of life gather here. You'll see couples walking hand in hand, children feeding the fish in the lake, elderly people playing chess, and groups of friends laughing and chatting over a picnic. This atmosphere gives you an insight Vietnamese culture, and you'll leave with a better understanding of the Vietnamese way of life.
For those seeking some quiet time, there are plenty of benches dotted around Hoan Kiem, where you can sit, relax and take in the scenery. Watching the locals going about their day is a very peaceful and calming experience. If you're feeling adventurous, you can rent a swan paddle boat and go for a paddle on the lake. This is a fun activity for families and couples, and you'll get to see the lake a much closer perspective.