Located in the heart of Hanoi, Sword Lake is picturesque. Its ancient Tortoise tower, The Huc bridge and Ngoc Son temple made the lake the pride of Hanoians and probably the first image that the name “Hanoi” evokes in Hanoians living far from home.
The lake has been called by several names including Luc Thuy, Ta Vong, Huu Vong and Thuy Quan. The current name “Hoan Kiem” which translates as “Lake of the Returned Sword” dates back to the 15th century. The lake is associated with a legend in which King Le Thai Tho returns a sword to a sacred turtle after defeating Ming dynasty invaders. The lake and its surroundings are one of the main attractions of Hanoi. The area surrounding the lake has lush greenery and two or three-storey buildings dating from the French colonial era. Hoan Kiem lake is surrounded by many historical and cultural structures: the old town with Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Cau Go, Luong Van Can streets, the Western corner of French architecture with the Great Cathedral, Trang Thi, Hang Bai and Dinh Tien Hong street. But the iconic site is Ngoc Son Temple, the Pen Tower, Hoa Phong Tower and The Huc bridge. Ngoc Son temple occupies the largest island in the lake. Although surrounded by busy streets, Hoan Kiem Lake remains calm and romantic. This is why it is one of the nicest walking areas in Hanoi.