On our last day in Hanoi, directly after breakfast, we walked to the Old Centre to hire an Electric Car with a driver for a tour around Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake area. We found the booking stall on Dinh Tien Hoang Street- the tree-lined boulevard right next to Hoan Kiem Lake. We paid 300,000VND for the car with a driver to take us around the Old Centre and the Lake which lasted about an hour.
Hồ Hoàn Kiếm (meaning “Lake of the Returned Sword” or “Lake of the Restored Sword”), also known as Hồ Gươm (Sword Lake), is a lake in the historical centre of Hanoi. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.
Walking around the lake is one of the most popular activities for both locals and tourists in Hanoi, however we chose to hire the car as we were limited with time. It is also a popular area for running, jogging and exercising. If you have the time, an early morning walk around this lake would be a wonderful way to start your day. Stop for your morning coffee or stay for lunch. It is easy to get around as you are not constantly avoiding thousands of motorbikes.
We were delighted with our driver who spoke enough English to give us an excellent tour of the areas. He stopped many times for photo opportunities and explained many of the symbols, buildings and traditions along the way.
There are many monuments all around the lake that give a sense of history and cultural diversity in this special place. There are also many cafes and restaurants well positioned for a view to the lake.
The Old Quarter is packed with charming colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and pagodas. It is Hanoi’s major commercial district. It’s heart and soul is exposed in the ancient commercial streets which are named after their original businesses dating back about 1000 years.
Expect to find plenty of hip café, bars, a variety of restaurants, bakeries, boutique shops and art galleries in this historical area.
There are lots of places to eat and drink. It is so full of life – Wonderful.