Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple: Things You Should Know
Hoan Kiem Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Hoàn Kiếm or Hồ Gươm):
The Hoan Kiem lake (Sword Lake or Returning Sword Lake), located in Hanoi's Old Quarter, offers plenty of trees and shaded spots in which to escape the busy city streets of Hanoi. It is loacated in the Old Quarter, and next to the main post office. It is free for the lake, but you have to purchase the ticket for Ngoc Son Temple at a booth located on the left-hand side before you cross the red bridge.
- Opening Hours: Always Open
- Location: Hanoi's Old Quarter
- Entrance Fee: Free of Charge
Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi attracts many tourists and locals looking to get away from the noise and frenetic pace of the capital city. Peaceful and tranquil, the lake surrounding Ngoc Son Temple, a Buddhist Pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island.
- History and Legend Story of Hoan Kiem Lake:
Hoan Kiem Lake is a natural fresh water lake, located in the heart of Hanoi. Previously, the lake was also known as Luc Thuy Lake (rough translation: Emerald Lake) because of its year-round green water or Thuy Quan Lake (rough translation: Naval Lake) because it was used in naval drills.
Around early 15th century, it was changed into Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake or Returning Sword Lake) because it was associated with the legend of King Le Thai To (1385 – 1433) returning the magical sword to the turtle deity after he borrowed that magic sword to defeat the Chinese Ming Invaders and became the first king of the Le Dynasty in Vietnam.
Ngoc Son Temple (Vietnamese: Đền Ngọc Sơn):
The Ngoc Son Temple attracts many visitors and was first built in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao of the Tran Dynasty, who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Mongolian.
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 - 17:00
- Location: Middle of Hoan Kiem Lake
- Entrance Fee: 30k / adult / ticket
The Ngoc Son Temple opens at 08:00 and closes at 17:00 every day and its best to get to the lake as early morning as possible to watch the local people doing their morning yoga and Tai Chi. To get to the Ngoc Son Temple, you just need to walk across the flag-lined bright red The Huc Bridge across to Jade Island.
Ngoc Son Temple is also to pay a respect to scholar Van Xuong and Confucian master Nguyen Van Sieu. The island on which Ngoc Son Temple built is known as Jade Island and is accessible by the iconic The Huc Bridge or Rising Sun Bridge which is a charming scarlet-painted wooden bridge of classical Vietnamese Architecture. Ngoc Son Temple is also guarded by two towering posts decorated with Chinese poem. The lake and temple are tow of the the most famous places in Hanoi city in which to take a rest, enjoy the view and watch the locals.
Ngoc Son Buddhist Temple was first built in the 18th century on Jade Island in the middle of the ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’ or Hoan Kiem Lake. Vietnamese Legend describes about Le Loi Emperor was once given a magical sword by a turtle to help him defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1428, and then he returned that magical sword to the Golden Turtle God in this lake.
Today ‘Turtle Tower’ is standing close to the lake in memory of this legend. There are also some endangered large soft-shell turtles swimming in Hoan Kiem Lake, and to see one of these gentle giant turtless is considered very auspicious. The name of Ngoc Son Temple translates to ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ and is predominately dedicated to Vietnamese hero of War, General Tran Hung Dao who defeated Mongolian invading Vietnam in 1285 & 1288.
Also inside Ngoc Son Temple, there are a large bronze bust and other deities. There are altars dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, some other ancient items including ceramics and a preserved specimen of a giant turtle found in Hoan Kiem Lake weighing 250kg.
Like many other Religious Buildings in Vietnam. When you go inside the Ngoc Son Temple, you need to dress up with decent clothes or bring your sarong & scarf to cover your shoulder and knees to show the respect. Visiting the temple, red The Huc bridge and watching early morning Tai Chi of local are some of the best activities to do in Hoan Kiem Lake.
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