West Lake - a romantic corner in the colorful painting of Hanoi
West Lake is one of the famous beauty spots in Hanoi capital, where there are many historical and cultural relics associated with the history of formation and development of the ancient Thang Long citadel and Hanoi at the present. It is considered to be the most romantic destination of Hanoi, the meeting place for couples at the weekend as well as the place marking memories of many generations of Hanoi-lovers.
West Lake is a natural lake located in the Northwest of Hanoi inner city with an area of about 500 hectares and a loop of nearly 20 kilometers long. Historical records show that thousands of years ago, the West Lake was a remnant due to the transfer of the Red River. West Lake used to have many names such as: Mu Suong (Foggy) Lake, Kim Nguu (Golden Buffalo) Lake, and Xac Cao (Fox Corpse) Swamp. Each name is attached to a legend of West Lake throughout its own history. One legend suggests that West Lake was shaped after the battle between Lạc Long Quan and a nine-tailed fox spirit, and that's why the lake was once called "Fox Corpse Swamp". Another folk story claimed that the original name of the lake was "Golden Buffalo Lake" because it was formed from struggle of a buffalo after the disappearance of her calf. In the 11th century, the lake was named "Foggy Lake" due to its continuous misty condition. Ultimately its name was changed to "West Lake" in 1573 to avoid the given name of king Le The Tong, which was Duy Dam.
West Lake is bordered by many significant places in the history of Hanoi and Vietnam. Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Vietnam, was built in the 6th century by King Ly Nam De and is located on a small island in the middle of the lake. Near Tran Quoc Pagoda is Quan Thanh Temple, one of the Four Sacred Temples of ancient Hanoi. Chu Van An High School, one of the oldest high schools in Vietnam, is also situated in close proximity to the lake.
In Hanoi capital, West Lake is an area with a dense system of heritage and relics. The area around West Lake alone has more than 20 temples and pagodas ranked with many famous monuments. Every spring, those relics attract tens of thousands of both domestic and foreign visitors. With a unique location advantage, West Lake is almost full of cultural and historical space associated with many legends, artistic and architectural works, and a thousand-year history of Hanoi capital. This is also the reason why many tourists come here to explore West Lake. For many visitors, the most interesting thing is to visit the West Lake by tram around the lake.
West Lake these days is still the green lung of the city. It is not only beautiful because of the gigantic blue water, but also the picturesque beauty by the purple color of lagerstroemia flowers and the splendor of flamboyant petals falling every summer. The surface of the lake is always waving of cool breeze, making the atmosphere even more tranquil and peaceful. With such a space, West Lake is definitely a relaxing place for many Hanoians. Every morning, or at sunset, a large number of people would take a walk around the lake to breathe fresh air or exercise and then come back home to prepare for a long working day. But at dusk or when the night falls, it is also the time when West Lake becomes a place to hang out with friends, relatives and lovers. Some people find themselves in a corner around the lake to enjoy the wind, sipping a cup of coffee in a roadside restaurant, enjoying famous shrimp cakes, eating an ice cream or going to a luxurious restaurants on the edge of the lake. As an ideal destination, West Lake has long become a place of spiritual life of Hanoi people.
‘’West Lake misty in the morning
My heart’s wistful like I reminisce something
Sadness ... I miss you my dear
Wish we could come back when you still here
I’m right here waiting for you
West Lake’s crowded but can’t find someone new
Days turn to years and then gone
But still our love lives on”
Written by: Hieu La