Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Hoàn Kiếm Lake is on the southern edge of Hanoi’s old quarter. It’s an area where many people (tourists and locals alike) come to walk, get a snack, or just sit and enjoy the scenery.

In English, the name translates to “lake of the returned sword”. A version of the story says that the emperor was given a sword by a god, the dragon king. The emperor used the sword, named “Harmonious With Heaven”, to help win in a rebellion against the neighboring Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, a turtle surfaced and asked him to return the sword to the dragon king god. The emperor gave the turtle the sword and renamed the lake Hoàn Kiếm. Additionally a small tower was built (turtle tower) on an island in the lake to commemorate this event. An endangered species of large soft shelled turtle, said to be the descendants of the original turtle, continue to inhabit the lake. Sadly the most recent generation of this “turtle family” was found deceased earlier this year, with only 3 other members of the species believed to still exist. I will try to make up for this rather depressing ending with the following picture of traditionally dressed women sheltering from the sun before a lake-side photo shoot.


2 thoughts on “Hoàn Kiếm Lake”

  1. Hi Marc and Michelle, Thanks for keeping me on your post list. I love staying in touch with your adventurous life and look forward to more news. Continue to enjoy – in fact, why not extend so some of us can further live vicariously. Stay well, Ellen

    Sent from my iPad



    1. This is such a late response, but thanks for your interest! In terms of extending… done and done! We were supposed to have returned already, by decided to volunteer with a really great project in Myanmar. Once I get caught up on our vietnam and Cambodia adventures I’ll share Myanmar on the blog!


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