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Thong Nhat Park

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Thong Nhat (or Reunification) Park is a great spot to relax with a book or enjoy a hassle-free stroll or jog. While you wouldn’t come out of your way to visit as a tourist, if you’re looking to do a spot of people-watching or running, it will do the trick very nicely.

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The park covers an area of more than 50 hectares in Hai Ba Trung district, to the south of Hoan Kiem. It was inaugurated in 1960, at which time the country was divided; the park was named Thong Nhat which means ‘united’, expressing the hope of reunification. In 1980, on the 110th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, the name was changed to Lenin Park, but it was changed back to Thong Nhat. (Lenin Park is now the name of a small park on Dien Bien Phu, opposite the Vietnam Military History Museum and Flag Tower).

Locals getting in some exercise. Photo taken in or around Thong Nhat Park, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Locals getting in some exercise. Photo: Samantha Brown

Thong Nhat is spacious, with a variety of trees spread across well-manicured lawns. Plenty of pathways let you jog or walk, with a circuit around the seven-hectare lake, Bay Mau, in the centre of the park making a good goal. Benches are on offer for a spot of reading or relaxing and there are toilets. While you can expect to receive smiles and hellos you are unlikely to be approached by anyone trying to sell you something or ask for donations, a pleasant break compared to Old Quarter.

A bridge on one bank leads to a picture-perfect island and the columns set up to the north of the lake—we assume for wedding photography—may feel out of sorts in Hanoi but contribute to the prettiness of the park.

Bay Mau Lake on a typically grey March day. Photo taken in or around Thong Nhat Park, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Bay Mau Lake on a typically grey March day. Photo: Samantha Brown

Various events are held at the park, such as Lunar New Year fireworks, and we just missed out on seeing a Bulgarian rose festival, of all things. We did get to see some interesting animal topiary though, apparently done to celebrate the start of the year of the rooster.

Kids’ rides scattered throughout the park can best be described as rickety and rusty. When we last visited on a weekday they were shuttered, and though they seemed to be past their prime it looked like they may well operate over the weekends when more families visit. They make for a great photographic project, at the least.

The ancient rides make for great photos. Photo taken in or around Thong Nhat Park, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

The ancient rides make for great photos. Photo: Samantha Brown

The park comes to life in the early morning and early evening as Vietnamese flock to exercise or to meet with friends, walking or running along the many paths and taking advantage of the space made available for badminton courts. We saw plenty of people using the exercise equipment and playing badminton and so on even in the middle of the day.

During the day, however, the park is almost deserted and a great place to get away from it all. Due to its location between four main roads, it’s never completely quiet, but the beeping horns are more background noise than intrusive.

Roar. Photo taken in or around Thong Nhat Park, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Roar. Photo: Samantha Brown

Although the main entrance is along the northern gate on Tran Nhan Tong Street, entrances with motorbike and bicycle parking are located all around the park’s boundary. Cafes at the northern end of the lake serve a range of light refreshments at reasonable prices or head to Tran Nhan Tong Street for bia hoi.

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