Hoan Kiem Lake aka Sword Lake

At the center of Hanoi’s Old Quarter lies Hoan Kiem Lake. Loosely translated into English as Sword Lake, this lake serves as the cultural center for Hanoi.

Legend has it that after defeating the Ming Dynasty a Golden Turtle surfaced in the lake and asked emperor Le Loi to return his magic sword to the spirit realm. To mark the auspicious event Loi renamed the lake and the rest is history.

People have long debated whether any turtles actually live in Hoan Kiem Lake. The waters are murky at best and do not support much marine life. However, in 2011 a 440 pound turtle was pulled from lake after a number of sightings. Biologists estimated it was 100 years. After treatment for a skin ailment the turtle was returned to its habitat.

Adding to the mystique of Hoan Kiem Lake are its two pagodas. The smaller of the two is inaccessible while the larger of the two rests on Jade Island and is named Temple of the Jade Mountain. Jade Island can be reached via the colorful The Huc Bridge, which is one of many icons of old Hanoi.

While a morning coffee on the misty shores of the lake is a must do, the real highlight of the Lake is after sunset. This is when the lights of the Old Quarter come alive and reflect off the surface.

Visa Registration Form

Visa On Arrival

If time and money are an issue, Viet Dream Travel's Visa on arrival service is a quick and cheap way to get a Vietnam Tourist Visa.

All you have to do is send an email to info@vietdreamtravel.co.uk including your passport details, full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, sex, passport number, nationality, passport expiration date, the date you are travelling to Vietnam and the type of visa you would like (see prices below). The simplest way to do this is by sending us a picture of the photo page of your passport.

After three working days, we will send you a letter of invitation and an application for entry form to be completed before you arrive. (Attach two passport photos to the application for entry form.)

Letter of Invitation Prices

  • One month single entry (Pay US$45 at the Airport)
  • Three month single entry (Pay US$45 at the Airport)
  • One month multiple entry (Pay US$65 at the Airport)
  • Three month multiple entry (Pay US$95 at the Airport)


Our Visa on arrival service is only valid for air passengers arriving at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.