West Lake

  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Lake

Hanoi, Vietnam


bordered by Thuy Khue and Thanh Nien sts, Ba Dinh District

Opening hours

park is always open

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West Lake is in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. West Lake, also called Ho Tay, is the biggest lake in central Hanoi, covering 500ha. In the past, West Lake used to be part of the Red River. West Lake, a beautiful spot in Hanoi, was once a resort for mandarins and kings.

Ho Tay is the largest of all the lakes in Ha Noi. The lake is on the northwest part of the city. Long ago, the lake was a branch of the Red river but later, as the river changed course, the lake remained a body of water just west of the river. There are many legends associated with West Lake. The most popular is the legend of the golden buffalo.

As the story goes, there once was a medicine man who was a giant. He is well known in Vietnam for his medicine practice and the king often used him to treat the royal family. His fame reached China and he was invited to China to treat the king. He was successful where others have failed so the king was going to reward him with great wealth. He refused offerings of gold and only requested that the king give him all the black copper in the king's vault. The king agreed and the giant left for Vietnam with vast amounts of black copper. In Vietnam the giant molded a giant bell of black copper. The giant rang the bell and the sound resonated all the way to China. In the king's vault there was a golden buffalo. Upon hearing the sound of the bell, the buffalo came to life (because he thought that his mother was calling him) and charged southward. Upon reaching Ha Noi, the buffalo trampled the land in the area near Red river. Over the years, this area filled with water and became Ho Tay or West Lake.

Ho Tay has always been an area for vacationing royalties. When Ha Noi was still the capital city, the kings from the Ly and Tran dynasty built summer homes along the lake. In the north end of the lake there are several villages famous for their flowers and fruits plantations. Most famous is Nghi Tam village, the birth place of Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, one of Vietnam's premier Poetess.

Today, many of the summer homes built by kings of yesteryears are now shrines and temples.Many palaces including Thuy Hoa Palace, Ham Nguyen Sanctuary, Tu Hoa Palace, Kim Lien Pagoda, and Ngoc Dam Palace were built on the bank of the lake.

The 17km path around the lake leads to Nghi Tam flower village, Tay Ho, Nhat Tan peach garden and Tay Ho Temple, were built in honour of Princess Lieu.

Phu Tay Ho is one of the more popular shrine on the shore of Ho Tay. During the first and fifteenth day of the lunar month, people from all over Ha Noi pour to the shrine to pay respect to the deities. On these days, the roads are filled with people dressed in colorful attire heading to the narrow road leading to the shrine.Visitors can go sightseeing and enjoy typical dishes, Phu Tay Ho is also famous for the Bun Oc (escargot vermicelli soup) and Banh Tom (shrimp cakes) sold in stalls along the way.

Reviews by visitors

This is quite a large lake. One side is larger than the other as lake is on both sides of the road. The lake itself is nothing special. You can hire paddle boats. You can walk around as there's paths. We walked towards the pagoda which was free entry.


Hanoi is a city with a lot of lakes but West Lake is the biggest and most beautiful. Most tourists don't visit West Lake because it's far from the touristy district of the Old Quarter but it's definitely worth a visit and is best seen from a motorbike, in my opinion.


This area surrounding the lake is considered the trendiest part of the city to hang out in. The best way to experience it is via electric golf cart which you can hire for about $4 pp outside the pagoda for an hour ride around the lake. We took a few beers with us and sat back and just enjoyed the scenery. There loads of restaurants and pubs and shops as well as an amusement park. At night, the area is packed with young people enjoying a meal, drinks and strolling around, listening to music. It's great here!


We walked out to the West Lake and by the pagoda. The lake was alright but appeared to be quite dirty. There wasn't a ton of stuff to see out there. The lake is much larger than the one near the Old/French quarters but not as nice. If you're looking to kill some time then it might be worth walking around but I wouldn't put it at the top of my list for Hanoi.

~Robert K

We stayed at Sheraton and hence had a good view of this lake. There is a nice serene feel and nice lights at night. There are plenty of shops and food outlets around here. Kim Lien Pagoda also is in close proximity. There are 2 hotels, Sheraton and Intercontinental here.


This is an OK area to stay in. I stayed at the Soiftel Plaza Hotel and it is in walking distance to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Some great coffee shops are around as well as some boats on the lake serving drinks and food in the evenings.

If you use Uber you are only a $2US ride from the old quarters. So all in all a great location.


It is very good for doing exercise by food or bicycle in the morning and afternoon or late evening around the lake. You als do Kayaking or fishing there!


It's just a lake. A really big lake. But it has a car free path round the outside that is ideal for a morning run. It's got to be a good 20km round so you'll probably not want to do more than one lap!! There's at least one small beach where some of the locals go for a swim. Around the Sheraton there are a number of bars and restaurants but the area is generally very quiet.


Beautiful area to spent walking around the area of the lake and visit the near by temple and cafes that are around the lake area.


Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake, West Lake has a circumference of 17km and houses many of the city’s historic places of interest around its perimeter – including Vietnam’s oldest pagoda and one of Vietnam’s four sacred temples.

The lake attracts many locals and tourists seeking respite from the busy city, providing a sanctuary of great natural beauty with plenty of quiet spots in the sizeable lush gardens surrounding the lake.
West Lake is a beautiful place to while away an afternoon, there are boats for hire and lunch on a floating restaurant makes a novel dining option. Notable points of interest at West Lake include Tran Quoc Pagoda which was built in the 6th century making it Vietnam’s oldest temple.

Tran Quoc Pagoda resides on a small island built by King Ly Nam De as a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. The pagoda is particularly stunning when viewed early evening at sunset. The other main attraction is Quan Thanh Temple located at the West Lake crossroads of Thanh Nien Street and Quan Thanh Street. One of Vietnam’s ancient Four Sacred Temples built during the reign of King Ly Thai To from 1010 to 1028; the temple features detailed wood carvings of sacred animals, trees and flowers in its structure. Quan Thanh Temple is open for all to enter with sightseers encouraged to pray for health, luck and happiness during their visit.

The lake used to be part of the Red River when it was a retreat reserved for the relaxation of mandarins and kings, today the lake offers so much to enjoy with a unique fusion of nature at her best and some of the most historic cultural sights in the whole of Vietnam.


Every morning you'll find the citizens of Hanoi exercising around the lake that's found in the center of this old and vibrant city. Beautiful lake, historic buildings and many a restaurant you may lazy in and take in the many passing views. Adjacent to the old quarter and the water puppets theatre. Surrounded by trees and plenty of seats on which to take a rest as you circumnavigate its surrounds.


Ran around this lake, its around 16ks I believe. Nice in the early mornings or evening when everybody is out riding bikes and walking. A few cool cafe's around too and places to rent boats etc. Saw some locals swimming in there too which is a recipe for sore guts and sickness, but hey, it's not me. Fair bit of trash and suspect looking pipes draining into it and local ladies gathering snails, shellfish, eels and fish anyway so double check your Bun Oc next time...might be from the lake??? Definitely take time out to explore it however

~Jonny M

Hanoi is actually very green with lots of lakes, ponds, parks and treeline streets. This West lake is the biggest lake in Hanoi. It is too big that you can hardly walk around it. There are golf buggies that take you for a tour around this lake. Best to visit this lake at sunset. 

There is a nice road running along the lake and it's perfectly suitable for a moped/cycling trip. In the summer you will see lots of lotus flowers too.


First time I saw this lake, it was during daytime, and I thought that it looked just like any lake really. It was pretty enough and I took a couple of photos. I came back at night and it was really beautiful. It is very lively and a lot of people come there. Pretty with the lights and people.

~Maria T

Wonderful scenery, especially during the evening sunset. Too bad when i was there are just too much construction going on nearby. Once these are completed, I'm sure this lake will have back its aura. Did a morning jog with nice people around greeting one another.


We walked around part if it from our hotel and it was time nicely spent to see some areas outside of the old quarter. We also walked from there to the Ho Chi Min area. If you're only here for a short time, then maybe not.


Westlake is very big lake in the heart of Hanoi. It's not so far from Old Quarter and it is perfect place for calm down. There are many cafe's and restaurants. Also many foreigners choose to live in the Westlake area.

~Tiia J

This was a must do on the tourist list Make sure you only use taxi group taxi as they are half the price You are offered to buy fish turtles at entrance that you then throw back in the lake for good luck Toilets hmmm take yr own paper and beware


West Lake is a big lake and the view can be lovely (on days when the pollution is low). You will likely see men fishing off long boats or off the walking path. Depending on what part of the lake you're on, you will see some restaurants and cafes, big houses or, if you are in Ba Dinh, you will pass Chu Văn An High School, an enormous and utterly beautiful set of French colonial buildings. The constant moped traffic makes this place less than peaceful but it's still a beautiful place to walk or bike.


You also see more Hanoi travel guide at here.