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Hanoi is home to some of the most enchanting lakes in Vietnam such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Truc Bach Lake, Thien Quang Lake, but there is not a place that represents Hanoians’ daily life as closely as West Lake does. Here we can enjoy from the most ordinary things like the fresh air, to more luxurious experiences, which may include having a fancy meal while appreciating spectacular views.
While Hoan Kiem leans towards a traditional aspect, West Lake has a rather Western vibe, but still bears some distinctive local features.
Visitors are often recommended to visit Hoan Kiem Lake, which is in the city center, to experience the culture and lifestyle of Hanoians in the old days. Near the place, they can try a lot of tasty Vietnamese street food, blend in the crowd to explore Hanoi Old Quarter. However, it can be hard to chill in such a noisy and touristy space. This is when a quiet and tranquil location like West Lake takes its place.
West Lake is the biggest freshwater lake in Hanoi and it takes about 10 - 15 minutes to drive from Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is surrounded by an endless row of green trees, along with impressive ancient structures. Apart from the picturesque scenery, there are a host of options for an authentic Hanoian experience from historical places of interest to traditional cuisine and entertainment.
Explore more about Tay Ho District
Whether you prefer to chill and enjoy life or wish to spend your dynamic energy on more fun, West Lake can give you the best of both worlds. These are our suggestions for top things to do around West Lake.
West Lake boasts a variety of ancient structures, including more than 20 famous pagodas, namely Tran Quoc Pagoda, Van Nien Pagoda, Tay Ho Temple, Quan Thanh Temple, Tu Lien Temple,... Visitors adore these places for its tranquility and the hundreds-year-old architectural details. West Lake is where you can experience the “pagoda” culture of Asians in general and Hanoians in particular.
Read more on 8 Amazing Vietnamese Pagodas You Have to See
Tran Quoc Pagoda was constructed in the 6th century, which has made its name as the oldest temple in Vietnam, as well as a symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism.
The pagoda always impresses the tourists with its magnificent architecture
Address: Thanh Nien Street, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM - 4 PM
Expected cost: VND 5,000 - VND 10,000/ticket
Another place that is widely appreciated by both locals and visitors is Quan Thanh Temple. This thousand-year-old temple is well-known as the most sacred site of worship in Hanoi.
Going to shrines to wish for health and luck has been a vital custom for Vietnamese people
Address: Thanh Nien Street, Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM - 5 PM
Expected cost: VND 10,000/ticket
One reminder for tourists when going to these places is to behave appropriately and wear appropriate clothes. You must not make jokes around or wear shorts, skirts and sleeveless shirts.
West Lake is also very famous for its local food. Crispy shrimp cakes, rice dumpling cakes, vermicelli, and shellfish soup,... are some of the most signature dishes that can be easily found around the area.
Crispy shrimp cake is an exceptional dish which the cook has to be extremely delicate to maintain the shape of a live crawfish on top of the fried batter. The cakes, after being deep-fried until golden, will be served with Vietnamese herbs and vegetables and special dipping sauce.
A beautiful display of fried shrimp cake
Rice dumpling cakes have shrimp and ground pork wrapped in glutinous rice flour as stuffing, looks simple yet tastes incredibly satisfying.
It is hard to resist tasting such an extraordinary dish like this
Lastly, vermicelli and shellfish soup is a local favorite (bún ốc). It is a bowl of rice noodles with shellfish as toppings, along with tomatoes, perilla and green onions. It is the savory and salty soup that gives this dish an impressive highlight.
If you visit Hanoi in cold seasons, you'd better try this amazing food
Tourists can easily find and go to many restaurants along the shore of West Lake to taste these delicious dishes with the price range of VND 30,000 - VND 60,000.
If you go further to Ngu Xa Street, you can also try rolled pho, a typical street food in Hanoi. It is made by wrapping stir-fried beef, lettuce, onions, and some other vegetables in a flat type of rice noodles.
A thin piece of rice noodle is filled with savory ingredients
Although Ngu Xa Street has a lot of restaurants that serve rolled pho, the most highly-recommended is Hung Ben Restaurant (“Phở cuốn Hưng Bền”).
Apart from the traditional rolled pho, you can also try other best dishes from Pho here
Address: 33 Ngu Xa Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 9 AM - 10 PM
Expected cost: VND 20,000 - VND 70,000
What can be a more fascinating experience than pedaling around Hanoi’s biggest lake to enjoy the cool breeze and escape urban pollution and noise? One of the top things that you need to do in West Lake is to hire a bike and take a trip along the shore of the lake. It is advisable that you should set off at dawn since it is the best time of the day to start your trip and observe how a typical day in Hanoi begins.
There are many places in Hanoi’s Old Quarter or West Lake where you can rent a bike at the price point of about VND 80,000 - VND 100,000. In West Lake, you can find bikes-for-rent at cafes.
Well-known for its Western ambiance, one of the top things to do around West Lake is having a dining date in high-quality restaurants. Most of the restaurants surrounding West Lake provide their customers with a stunning lake view. What can be more idealistic than having dinner with your lover under the romantic candles and adoring a captivating scene!
Here are some addresses that will impress you.
Placed on the 20th floor of a famous hotel, this place offers an impressive panoramic view of the lake
Address: 20th floor, Pan Pacific Hotel Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 4 PM - 12 PM
Expected cost: VND 65,000 - VND 5,500,000
Belongs to one of the most luxurious hotels in Hanoi, the restaurant promises to offer tourists a memorable dinner
Address: Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, Xuan Dieu Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6 PM - 10:30 PM
Expected cost: VND 500,000 - VND 1,000,000
The restaurant specializes in an Asian - Western fusion menu, giving customers multiple options
Address: 22 Quang Khanh, Quang An Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 11 AM - 11 PM
Expected cost: VND 100,000 - VND 500,000
This bar’s 2nd floor has a large terrace which looks over West Lake
Address: 7A Lane 27, Xuan Dieu Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7 AM - 12 PM
Expected cost: VND 50,000 - VND 500,000
After having a first-class meal, tourists can visit a friendly cafe to wrap the day with a cup of Vietnamese coffee. Thanks to the ideal location, the cafes offer an exceptional view and high-quality drinks.
A perfect place for customers to enjoy the calming vibe
Address: 115 Nguyen Dinh Thi, Thuy Khue Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM - 11:30 PM
Expected cost: VND 15,000 - VND 80,000
Although this cafe is traditionally decorated, it serves a great variety of Western food and drinks
Address: 156 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10 PM
Expected cost: VND 50,000 - VND 70,000
You can take good photos anywhere in this coffee shop thanks to the vibrant color
Address: 24 Quang Ba, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10:30 PM
Expected cost: VND 70,000 - VND 90,000
It is the white and beige color of this cafe that gives it a cozy theme
Address: 109 Nguyen Dinh Thi, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10:30 PM
Expected cost: VND 35,000 - VND 80,000
Since West Lake is a vast area, it can be hard to wrap up a to-do-list. The aforementioned are the top things to do around West Lake in Hanoi for your most authentic experience when exploring the capital of Vietnam.
Look for the best hotels to stay in Hanoi:
© Written by Giang Le for itourvn.com
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I absolutely adore this area after living in Hanoi for years. There's always something interesting to do, like biking by the lakeshore or chilling in a hipster bar with live music. Best area to live in Hanoi
Fishing in the West Lake is also nice