Next day we started our Ha Noi exploration trip from West Lake, Vietnam’s biggest freshwater lake. It has a shore length of 17 kms with gardens, hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers. The residential area around it is prime real estate of the city.
The historical Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest Pagoda in Vietnam (1,450 years) is right in the middle of this lake. It was built by Ly Nam De in the 6th century. Then there is Quan Thanh Temple, one of the four sacred temples of ancient Ha Noi. The Chu Van An High School, oldest high schools in Vietnam is also close to the lake.
In the pagoda grounds is a Bodhi tree, which is a cutting from the original Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India given as a gift to Vietnam by the visiting Indian President, Dr Rajendra Prasad.
The Quan Thanh Temple dates back to the 11th century and is dedicated to Xuan Wu, one of the principal deities in Taoism. As one of the four temples it was built to protect the old city from the evil spirits.
After lunch we headed straight to the Old Quarters and Haon Kiem Lake.
Haon Kiem in Vietnamese means the “Lake of the returned Sword”. The lake is in 12 hectares and is the most beautiful and happening part of Ha Noi. There are number of hotels and restaurants surrounding the lake and in the evening this are looks magical with coloured lights.
In the middle of the lake is the Turtle Tower. It was built on the Turtle islet, a fishing site during the 17th century.
The Old Quarters is the ancient part of town which has existed since the imperial times outside the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. Each street here specializes in one type of manufacturing or commerce. There are about 76 streets where there are number of Hotels, restaurants and bars. This is one place where action never stops way past midnight. It is still the main shopping area of the city.