West Lake in Hanoi – What to See & Things to Do

West Lake, or Ho Tay, is the largest natural lake in Hanoi and a key destination for both locals and tourists seeking tranquility and leisure activities. Covering an area of 500 hectares with a shore length of 17 kilometers, it offers a blend of natural beauty, historical sites, and modern amenities.

West Lake Hanoi - What to See & Things to Do
West Lake Hanoi – What to See & Things to Do

 

West Lake is always a top destination in any Hanoi travel itinerary. With a perfect combination of a poetic lake, solemn historical areas, amazing activities, and unforgettable food, the lake has become an unmissable place when tourists visit Hanoi. If you still wonder about things to do and see at West Lake Hanoi, read this article to the end.

Location: Tay Ho district, Hanoi
Area: 5.3 km²
Lake type: Lake
Shore length: 17 km
Map to the West Lake:

1. The origin of West Lake in Hanoi

The origin of West Lake in Hanoi (Source: Collected)
The origin of West Lake in Hanoi (Source: Collected)

West Lake is located in the northwest of Hanoi. It is the capital’s largest lake, with a shore length of 17 kilometers and an area of 500 hectares. Initially, it was part of the Red River. Over time, frequent floods and erosion led to its present location.

West Lake has had many names, such as Kim Nguu Lake, Mu Suong Lake, and Xac Cao Pond. Each of these names is tied to a legend regarding the origin of the legendary West Lake.

Along the length of Hanoi’s West Lake shoreline, in addition to Vietnamese historical sites, there are also numerous hotels, restaurants, and cafes built in Western architectural styles. With its charming beauty and historical significance, the lake has been mentioned in many songs, stories, and poems about Hanoi.

2. TOP 5 things to do in West Lake in Hanoi for your perfect excursion

If you have the opportunity to visit West Lake in Hanoi, here are some activities you shouldn’t miss.

2.1. Try sup boating in West Lake

Try sup boating in West Lake (Source: Collected)
Try sup boating in West Lake (Source: Collected)

Besides enjoying the picturesque scenery of West Lake, visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to try Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding, a water sport originating from Hawaii.

While SUP boarding shares similarities with canoeing and kayaking, it tends to be easier for beginners. Participants have the flexibility to stand, sit, or kneel on the paddleboard and engage in group activities. Before setting off on the water, participants are provided with life jackets for safety purposes.

The optimal time for SUP boarding at West Lake is in the late afternoon. Presently, the Umove SUP Club provides SUP boarding services at 200,000 VND/SUP for a half day on weekdays and 250,000 VND/SUP for a half day on weekends. If you’re looking for top things to do at West Lake, be sure not to overlook this activity.

2.2. Check-in West Lake’s Flower Valley

Check-in West Lake's Flower Valley (Source: Collected)
Check-in West Lake’s Flower Valley (Source: Collected)

Located on Nhat Chieu Street, near the Dam Tri Lotus Pond, West Lake Flower Valley has emerged as a popular tourist destination for both locals and international visitors in Hanoi.

This “flower heaven” offers breathtaking views of expansive flower fields and tends to be bustling with visitors, especially on weekends. A wide array of seasonal flowers, such as daisies, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, violets, and Catharanthus roses, are cultivated here. Ho Tay Flower Valley is at its peak beauty from late fall to early spring (September to March), when thousands of flowers burst into bloom.

The entrance fee to the flower valley is 80,000 VND per ticket for children and 120,000 VND per ticket for adults.

2.3. Walking and cycling around Hanoi’s West Lake

Walking and cycling around West Lake in Hanoi is truly beloved by both locals and tourists. With numerous bicycle rental service providers offering rentals at an average price of around 40,000 to 50,000 VND for a 3-hour period, exploring the lake’s surroundings becomes effortless.

This leisurely pursuit presents the opportunity to uncover hidden gems, relish breathtaking lake views, and immerse oneself in local culture and delectable cuisine along the way. Bask in the beauty of nature, savor the invigorating breeze, and observe the rhythm of local life—it’s these moments that authentically encapsulate the essence of West Lake.

2.4. Stroll around Trinh Cong Son Street

Stroll around Trinh Cong Son Street (Source: Collected)
Stroll around Trinh Cong Son Street (Source: Collected)

Trinh Cong Son Walking Street, named after the celebrated Vietnamese composer, is located around 500 meters from West Lake. As the second pedestrian street in Hanoi, it spans 900 meters from Alley 431 on Au Co Street to Alley 612 on Lac Long Quan Street.

This pedestrian street operates weekly, starting from 5 pm on Friday and concluding at 11 pm on Sunday. It offers a lively environment for both locals and visitors to leisurely stroll, explore shops, dine at eateries, and partake in various cultural activities.

Along the street, there are 60 kiosks designed after the ancient houses of Hanoi and Hoi An. Here, tourists can indulge in a wide variety of street foods, such as shrimp cakes, snail noodles, steamed rice, as well as browse through handicraft products and souvenirs.

Moreover, there is a large outdoor stage where performances of Trinh Cong Son’s music, puppet shows, and Vietnamese traditional music take place, adding to the vibrant atmosphere of the pedestrian street.

2.5. Sip a cup of coffee at West Lake

Sip a cup of coffee at West Lake (Source: Collected)
Sip a cup of coffee at West Lake (Source: Collected)

Walking around the lake provides a wonderful glimpse into local life, but for many travelers, sipping a cup of coffee while soaking in the scenery is an even more enticing prospect.

Along West Lake, you’ll find an abundance of coffee shops boasting exquisite designs. What sets this area apart is the availability of rooftop spaces in many of these establishments, offering unparalleled views of the lake. With hundreds of cafes catering to all budgets, you’re sure to find one where you can relax and enjoy the vista.

2.6. Visit the lotus pond in Hanoi’s West Lake

During June, as the lotus flower season blooms, certain areas of West Lake in Hanoi undergo a breathtaking transformation into a sea of vibrant petals. The lake boasts four expansive ponds, one situated near the West Lake’s Water Park, while the others grace the Northern bank. Capturing photos amidst the lotus flowers stands out as one of the premier activities to enjoy at West Lake.

The renowned cultivar of lotus grown here is Bach Diep, known as the “100 petals” lotus. These lotus flowers showcase a pink hue, emit a delightful fragrance, and feature large, succulent lotus anthers. Their enduring beauty and rich aroma make them an exclusive ingredient for the production of Vietnamese lotus tea.

2.7. Experience thrilling games at West Lake’s Water Park

Taking up a corner of West Lake, this lively and intriguing water park in Hanoi draws inspiration from the picturesque city of Santorini in Greece.

At West Lake Water Park, visitors can immerse themselves in a variety of thrilling experiences, including an array of exciting slides designed for solo players, duos, and adventurous souls seeking a challenge at a height of 14.5 meters. Additionally, guests can enjoy the wave pool, featuring robust waves reaching heights of 1.2 meters and a depth of 3 meters.

The park offers three types of entry tickets tailored to different visitor groups:

– Those under 90 centimeters tall: Enjoy free admission.
– Those between 90 centimeters and 135 centimeters tall: Tickets priced at 130,000 VND on weekdays and 150,000 VND on weekends and public holidays.
– Those above 135 centimeters tall: Tickets priced at 155,000 VND on weekdays and 180,000 VND on weekends and public holidays.

*Note: After 4:30 pm daily, the entry ticket price is reduced to 100,000 VND.

3. Enrich your trip to West Lake at some relics and sacred places

The Hanoi West Lake is indeed adorned with pagodas, temples, and other culturally significant monuments. Among them, Tran Quoc Pagoda stands out as a must-visit destination:

Tran Quoc Pagoda:

Tran Quoc Pagoda (Source: Collected)
Tran Quoc Pagoda (Source: Collected)

Situated on an islet within West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda holds the distinction of being the oldest pagoda in Vietnam’s capital. Its origins trace back to the 6th century during the reign of King Ly Nam De, making it a revered cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. Upon visiting, visitors are greeted by a multitude of intricately carved statues dating back to 1939, each bearing unique facial features. Exploring Tran Quoc Pagoda consistently ranks among the top experiences to be had at West Lake.

Tay Ho Temple

Nestled on a peninsula protruding into West Lake, holds a revered status as one of Hanoi’s most sacred temples. Esteemed by both locals and visitors from across Vietnam, it serves as a sanctuary for lighting incense and offering prayers for blessings and serenity. The temple’s charm is accentuated by its majestic banyan trees and the tranquil panorama overlooking the eastern shore of West Lake.

Kim Lien Pagoda

Founded in the 12th century by the Ly Dynasty, Kim Lien Pagoda stands as one of the ten most ancient architectural marvels in Vietnam. Renowned for its intricate and elegant design, the pagoda boasts a rich history and cultural significance. Within its premises, visitors can admire statues of Buddha, Princess Tu Hoa, Lord Trinh Giang, and other revered figures, adding to its spiritual ambiance and historical allure.

Tao Sach Pagoda

Situated on the west bank of Hanoi’s West Lake, Tao Sach Pagoda traces its origins back to the Le Dynasty. Built in a traditional style, the pagoda features a triple-doorway gate, contemplation rooms, and other religious structures. This site exudes a serene and tranquil atmosphere, steeped in numerous captivating stories from Vietnamese history. Visitors to the pagoda also have the opportunity to view various Han Nom documents and priceless relics, further enriching their cultural experience.

Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple, situated at the intersection of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street, overlooking West Lake, dates back to the Ly Dynasty. Among the four temples erected in Hanoi for safeguarding the city against malevolent spirits, it holds significant historical and cultural importance. For enthusiasts of history and culture, a visit to this temple is highly recommended.

In addition to exploring the beauty of West Lake and its surrounding attractions, there are numerous other famous destinations in Hanoi that are worth visiting. Here are some notable ones:

  1. Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple: A scenic lake in the heart of Hanoi, surrounded by lush greenery, with Ngoc Son Temple situated on a small island.
  2. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Pay homage to the iconic leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, at this monumental mausoleum.
  3. Temple of Literature (Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam): Delve into Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage at this ancient temple complex, which also houses the country’s first national university.
  4. Hanoi Old Quarter: Wander through the historic streets of the Old Quarter, filled with charming colonial architecture, bustling markets, and vibrant street life.
  5. One Pillar Pagoda: Admire the unique architecture of this iconic Buddhist pagoda, built atop a single stone pillar, resembling a lotus blossom emerging from the water.
  6. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: Explore the diverse cultures of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities through exhibits, artifacts, and traditional village replicas.
  7. Hanoi Opera House: Marvel at the grandeur of French colonial architecture while enjoying a performance at this historic opera house.

These are just a few highlights of what Hanoi has to offer. Each destination offers a unique glimpse into the rich history, culture, and heritage of Vietnam’s capital city.

4. How and when to visit the West Lake for the best experience?

How to get to the West Lake?

To reach West Lake in Hanoi, located northwest of the city center, you have several transportation options:

By bus: You can take buses number 13, 33, 50, or 70, which provide convenient access to West Lake from various parts of the city.

By taxi/motorbike: Taxis are readily available throughout Hanoi, with fares averaging between 11,500 VND to 17,500 VND per kilometer. Alternatively, you can opt for a motorbike taxi service through ride-hailing apps like Grab or Gojek, offering convenient and affordable transportation options for navigating around Hanoi.

The best time to visit the West Lake?

Hanoi experiences four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each season bestows a unique charm upon both the city and West Lake.

In spring, West Lake is rejuvenated, offering a fresh and vibrant atmosphere. Summer brings a burst of energy and color, with the lake exuding vitality. Fall paints a romantic scene, as the foliage around the lake transforms into a mesmerizing array of warm hues. Winter lends a tranquil air, with the lake’s surroundings enveloped in a serene ambiance.

Given the diverse allure of West Lake throughout the year, it is an ideal destination for visits in any season. Whether you choose to arrive early in the morning to savor the crisp air and witness the stunning sunrise, or in the evening to admire the romantic night scenery, West Lake promises a memorable experience year-round.

Visiting Hanoi without experiencing the beauty and cultural richness of West Lake would indeed be a missed opportunity. With its natural splendor and profound cultural significance, West Lake captivates visitors from near and far.

Exploring West Lake offers a chance to immerse oneself in its tranquil surroundings, discover its historical landmarks, and indulge in various leisure activities. Whether you’re admiring the serene vistas, sampling delectable cuisine, or delving into the rich history and culture, West Lake promises an enriching and unforgettable experience.

For an optimized trip, meticulous planning and early reservations are imperative. Amidst the plethora of tour operators, Vietnam Discovery Travel stands out for their seamless coordination via email and WhatsApp. They oversee every detail, from airport transfers and accommodations to providing knowledgeable guides, chauffeurs, and personalized activities. With their comprehensive services, Discover Vietnam Tours ensures a smooth and enriching travel experience, allowing you to fully enjoy all that West Lake and Hanoi have to offer.

Vietnam Discovery Travel is glad the information provided in this article can assist in making your exploration of West Lake more enjoyable and fulfilling. Happy travels!