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    West Lake (Ho Tay)

    Location: West Lake is in Tay Ho District, Hanoi.

    Characteristic: 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.

    Two legends explain the origins of Ho Tay (West Lake), also known as the Lake of Mist and the Big Lake. According to one legend, Ho Tay was created when the Dragon King drowned an evil nine-tailed fox in his lair, which was in a forest on this site. Another legend relates that in the 11th century, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Khong Lo, rendered a great service to the emperor of China, who rewarded him with a vast quantity of bronze from which he cast a huge bell. The sound of the bell could be heard all the way to China, where the Golden Buffalo Calf: mistaking the ringing for its mother’s call, ran southward, trampling on the site of Ho Tay and turning it into a lake.

    In reality, the lake was created when the Song Hong (Red River) overflowed its banks. Indeed, Song Hong has changed its course numerous times; alternately flooding some lands and creating new ones though silt build lip. The flood problem has been partially controlled by building dikes. The highway along the east side of Ho Tay is built upon one.

    The lake was once ringed with magnificent palaces and pavilions. These were destroyed in the course of various feudal wars. The circumference of West Lake is about 13km.

    The Tran Quoc Pagoda is on the shore of Ho Tay just off D Thanh Nien, which divides Ho Tay from True Bach Lake. A stele here dating tram 1639 tells the history of this site. The pagoda was rebuilt in the 15th century and again in 1842. There are a number of monks’ funerary monuments in the garden. This is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam.

    On the south side of the lake is a popular strip of outdoor seafood restaurants (see Places to Eat later in this chapter) while the north side has been ear-marked for the development of luxurious villas and hotels.

    West Lake Hanoi Vietnam
    West Lake Hanoi

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