Hoan Kiem District, Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Distrist, Vietnam

Old Quarter. North of Hoan Kiem Lake and west of the Hanoi Citadel, this labyrinth neighborhood stretches to Long Bien Bridge, which was continually bombed and repaired during the war. Many streets take their names from the goods sold there. Hang Bac ( Silver St.) is lined with fold and silver shops, and Hang Thiec (Tin St.) is home to metalworkers. Since merchants used to be taxed by hitting the shops, check out the museum at 48 Hang Ngang, where Ho Chi Minh drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1945. The winding Nguyen Quang Bjch hosts a mix of typical Old Quarter and 1900s French-style houses painted bright yellow and green. Though the Old Quarter is well tourist, foreigners are still viewed with polite bewilderment.

Hoan Kiem Lake

The lake takes its name from a 15th century legend of a magic turtle who loaned a sacred sword to Le Loi, the nobleman who led the Vietnamese against the invading Ming army. Paddling in the  lake following victory, the newly crowned emperor encountered the turtle, who commemorates the event. Several mammoth turtles still live in the lake and occasionally surface, an event that locals believe is a sign of the impending death of one of the country’s leaders. Travelers can enjoy a relaxing stroll here, though persistent kids sell postcards and T-shirts on the north side of the lake.

Ngoc Son Temple

Generations have added more and more frills to this shrine since its construction during the Tran Dynasty. Last renovated in 1865, this Chinese-style temple is located on a wooded island in Thirteenth –century hero Tran Hung Dao and the physician La To are also honored. The entrance to the temple is through Tam Quan gate on the north-east shore on Dinh Tien Hoang. Behind the hall of cult, the sanctuary to Van Xuong offers a beautiful view of the lake.

Quan Su Pagoda

The official center of Buddhism in Hanoi, this site served as a guest house for visiting Buddhist ambassadors. The structure as it stands today was completed in 1942. Inside are several depictions of the Buddha. Be extremely respectful in dress and manners.

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