Photo: Sunset over Hanoi's West Lake.

West Lake

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Also known as Ho Tay or Lake of Mist, West Lake covers a sizeable part of northwest Hanoi and offers an array of attractions.





While tourists flock to Old Quarter, West Lake is probably the most popular neighbourhood for expats. And while you’ll find an abundance of Western-orientated restaurants, bars and shops here, normal and colourful Vietnamese life filters through all around them, from streetside food joints to fishermen and temples.

A calm West Lake moment. Photo taken in or around West Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

A calm West Lake moment. Photo: Samantha Brown

As well as escaping the busy streets of Hanoi, the lake provides an opportunity to watch fishermen at work, to see some very pretty temples—scattered around the shore—and to enjoy a coffee or beer while enjoying the breeze that comes across the lake (not so good on a cold and windy day, but lovely in summer). And the views across the lake on a sunny day are impressive.

According to legend, the lake was formed by the footprint of a golden calf running towards the sound of a giant bell. In its heyday, the lake was lined by royal palaces, which are now mostly gone and replaced by high-end housing and luxury hotels.

It’s a 15-kilometre walk around the lake. Consider hiring a bicycle to circumnavigate the whole way—clockwise so avoiding the need to cross over too many roads—or do some of it on foot. Exploring a little, especially around the Sheraton and Intercontinental neighbourhoods, will have you stumble across cafes as well as streetside restaurants, and you’ll see fishermen either patiently waiting for a catch, or in the lake itself. Watch out for the golf driving range; players whack their balls directly into the lake, where they fall into a large net that ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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West Lake
Northwest Hanoi

Location map for West Lake

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