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Hoan Kiem Lake in Central Hanoi is a must visit for tourists to Vietnam
While in the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi, a visit to the Hoan Kiem Lake is a must. The lake is centrally located and is one of the major scenic spots in the city. Both, in the morning and evening, the locals and tourists visit the lake to spend leisurely time with walks, meditation and yoga.

Around the lake, you would find children playing, tourists buying local craft and gifts and enjoying the local snacks and street food.

One has to buy a ticket to visit the peaceful and quiet Ngoc Son Temple – an ancient pagoda sitting in the center on a small island in the lake. The temple attracts many tourists and visitors and it was built to commemorate the bravery of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao known for his battle against the Yuan Dynasty.

The name of the lake 'Hoan Kiem' means the 'returned sword' which is believed to be magical sword of the gods given to King Le Loi that was used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, King Loi gave the sword back to the Turtle God after he had chased away the Chinese.

One can see giant soft-shell turtles swimming in the lake if one has the patience. Sighting a turtle in the lake is considered auspicious and a good luck.

Close to the periphery of the lake, there is another island called Jade Island which is accessible by a red painted wooden bridge made in classical Vietnamese design that is popularly called The Rising Sun Bridge. The island has a pagoda with two towers having Chinese inscriptions. Here, visitors also pay homage to Vietnamese scholar Van Xuong and Confucian master Nguyen Van Sieu.

The lake and the temples on its islands offer plenty of trees and shaded spots in which to escape the busy city streets.

The main temples open at 08:00 and close at 17:00 every day and its best to get to the lake as early as possible to watch the locals do their morning yoga and Tai Chi.

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