The West Lake, also known as the Lake of mist is Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake which is located in Tay Ho District. This place offers an array of attractions.
The lake is surrounded by many lush green gardens, villas, hotel, nightlife venues, cafes and a row of trees by the shore. It is located in the very center of the capital of Vietnam with a circumference of 17 km.
This place is accessible from the Old Quarter within a 15-minute drive. It is locally known as Tay Ho lake and provides a sanctuary of great natural beauty with a plenty of quiet spots. This place is an escape from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
The place provides an opportunity to seek into the lives of fishermen at work, to witness some pretty temples that are all scattered around the shore and to drink a coffee or beer in addition to enjoying the breeze that falls on your face across the lake.
You can spend a beautiful and calm afternoon here with your loved ones by lunching in a floating restaurant. You can also hire a boat to enjoy this natural beauty.
Things to do
● Hire a bicycle
It is a 15 km walk around the lake. Get yourself a bicycle and ride it around the lake. Cycling is more convenient than walking on foot as you will get tired as you will reach midway. On an average, it takes 1.5 hours to complete the full circle.
It is advisable to go for a cycle ride either in morning or evening to beat the summer heat. Also, at this time you’ll be joined by many other people. While circling around the lake you will see many temples, cafes, streetside restaurants and fisherman.
● Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda
It is one of the oldest Temples of Vietnam and was built in the 6th century. This temple is a symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism and is built on a small island. This temple was built by King Ly Nam De. The best time to capture the beauty of this place is early evening.
Opening Hours: Daily 07:30 – 18:00
Location: Thanh Nien, Truc Bach, Ba Dình, Hanoi
● Visit Quan Thanh Temple
It is located at the West Lake crossroads of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street. The temple was built during the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225). This place was built to honor ‘Tran Vo’ the ‘God of the North. The ‘Quan Thanh’ means the ‘place of Gods’. This temple is one of the four temples that were built to protect the city from four directions. This temple is the protector of the north.
The place is very beautiful with carved poems all over the walls, bronze bell, shrines, a bronze statue and much more. This place is roughly 15 minutes away from the Old Quarter.
Opening Hours: 05:00-19:00
Location: Southern shore of Truc Bach Lake, Ba Dinh District (5 minutes’ walk from the Presidential Palace)
● Try Banh Tom Ho Tay – the West Lake crispy shrimp cakes
Banh Tom Ho Tay is the namesake dish of Hanoi's West Lake. Raw crayfish is wrapped in flour and deep fried until golden. These are served with a flavorful dipping sauce and a bowl of pickles which creates a perfect blend of textures and taste.
This dish is a crispy seafood deliciousness that can be found at various street stalls and dine in restaurants at Thanh Nien Street.
● Enjoy a ride on a Duck pedal Boat
Enjoy the most memorable and romantic date night while pedaling through the waters. The rent is given on hourly bases. Enjoy the private moment with the serene view and feel the breeze passing through your hair.
● Lake View Cafes
Stopping at one of the coffee shops while hanging out with your friends is a must. There are hundreds of cafe to enjoy your meals.
It is advisable to go for a multilevel cafe as you will get to enjoy the beautiful sunset from there top floors. Also, during winters coffee is the best thing you can ask for to enjoy the chilly weather.
● Ngo Nuong – Grilled Corn
This is the yummiest corn that will warm you up during the cold winter days. At every 500 m around the West Lake, there is a stall or tiny counter where you can get these smacking grilled corns just for 50 cents.
Hanoian-style grilled corn is served without any additional flavors. You’ll surely be warmed by these corns during foggy cold winters. Feel the taste of every bite and eat slowly to get the juicy taste of the grilled corn.
● Capture the moments
Like the most of the Hanoi, this place is also very photogenic. Capture and freeze every moment that you have spent on this beautiful place. If you are visiting this place near may or June then you are lucky enough to witness the blooming lotuses all around the lake. The lotuses are very exclusive because of the fresh white petals.
Capture this beautiful painting made by God himself in your camera. Try Vietnamese Ao Dai and feel as a local of Hanoi. Ask someone to take your picture and this will be your best memory of the trip.
● West Lake famous Ice Cream
There are many ice creams that will make your day and extract the heat out of your body during summers. Few famous ice creams that you can eat at the West Lake are Thuy Ta Ice-cream, Trang Tien Ice-cream, and yes, West Lake Ice-cream as well.
At Thanh Nien Street, opposite Tran Quoc Pagoda you will get the best ice cream of Hanoi. The price is also very less. Take the ice cream and enjoy it while walking around the lake.
There are a variety of restaurants that serve you the best Vietnamese cuisine. These restaurants are located right at the lakefront. You can select fresh seafood and then they will cook it for you.
What can more a person ask for? A perfect view with equally perfect and scrumptious food that too of your own choice and of course with a perfect company to enjoy all this. The restaurants are very crowdy so you should get your reservations done in advance.