The tourist center of Hanoi includes the old town and the area around the Hoan Kiem Lake.
The old neighborhoods, that have largely withstood the colonisation of France and the bombing of the Americans during the Vietnam war, house a huge number of small businesses, hotels, restaurants and bars.
The lively traffic makes the narrow streets almost impassable.
Nevertheless, you will find everything you need in this area. Some of the roads are organized by product group.
For example, in the Pho Hang Dau you can buy almost exclusively shoes.
Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake)
The Hoan Kiem Lake is the most famous lake in the heart of Hanoi. It lies between the Old Town and the former French colonial quarter.
In the past it was connected to the red river and served as retention basin. Today, many channels and the connection to the Red River are filled.
Along the lakeside you find recreation areas.
The Hoan Kiem Lake was the habitat of the favorite animal of the Vietnamese people, the giant tortoise Cu Rùa. It passed away on January 21, 2016 at the age of 120 years.
Landmark of Hanoi is the Turtle Tower (Thap Rua) on a small island in the lake.
The lake and the Turtle Tower are connected to a legend. Once, a turtle appeared to the poor fisherman Le Loi and gave him a magical sword with which he could free Vietnam from the Chinese and crown himself king.
As the turtle wanted to have the sword back, it was transformed into a dragon and plunged into the lake. To commemorate these events, Le Loi let build the tower.
During our evening walk through the Le Thai To, we discover the temple with the same name, which is also connected to the legend of the sword.
On another island is the Ngoc Son Temple, the Temple of the Jade Mountain. It is the most visited temple of Hanoi and dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, who expelled the Mongols in the 13th century.
The island is connected with the mainland via the picturesque Huc Bridge, Cầu Thê Húc.
The large square with the illuminated fountain, on the northern shore of the lake, serves as a meeting place of the youth.
A number of excellent restaurants can be found along the promenade.
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