Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake) is located at the center of Hanoi Old Quarters which is next to Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Cau Go Lo Su, and Luong Van Can Street. In the beginning, people called this lake “Luc Thuy” (Lục Thuỷ) (it means “Green Water”) due to its green water all year around. Then, it was also known as “Thuy Quan” (Thuỷ Quân) (it means that the lake for troop review) and “Ta Vong” (Tả Vọng) under the Le Mat Dynasty. The name “Hoan Kiem Lake” happened in the 15th century which went with the Vietnamese legend “Returned Sword”. Legend told that at the outbreak of war against Ming China Army, the Dragon King (Long Vuong) gave the king Le Loi a sword imprinted with “Heaven’s Will”. It’s this sword that helped King Le Loi and his army gained victory and finished off fighting with the Chinese. Then, the peace descended once more in Vietnam.
1. Enjoying egg-coffee – Dinh café
Egg coffee is a special coffee drink which can’t be found anywhere but in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Although made from very simple ingredients including eggs, toasted coffee, condensed milk, sugar egg coffee has a very distinct flavor. To make egg coffee, firstly they whisk quickly and carefully fresh chicken egg yolks with milk and sugar. Then pour hot coffee into the beaten eggs, which makes the beautiful and aromatic foam of chicken egg yolk floating. To keep its temperature, the waiter often put the cup of coffee in a small bowl of warm water. A well-blended and perfect coffee egg will have color fragrant brown. Taking the very first mouthful of egg coffee, you will feel the amazingly delicious, creamy taste and distinctly good smell. Then when drinking at the bottom, you will fell the richer taste of Vietnamese coffee. To experience the real egg coffee, you can drop in two coffee shops hereinafter:
Café Giang – Hanoi Old Quater
Address: No. 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi
Price: VND 15,000 – VND 33,000
Humbly hidden on Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Giang Café is difficult to find but well worth the effort. Giang Café was established in 1946 by Mr. Nguyen Giang, a talented bartender in the famous five-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel. Unlike other egg coffee shop, Giang Café adds butter and cheese to their coffee to enrich the flavor. However, the most important parts making Giang Café different is its secret recipe which decides how to measure exactly the amount of egg yolks and coffee together with the way to blend them perfectly. In addition the tasty coffee, Giang Café has an ancient vibe and cozy ambiance which will bring you unforgettable memories.
Dinh Café – Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Address: No. 13 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, close to Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Price: VND 20,000
Dinh Café is located on the second floor of a handbag story at 13 Dinh Tien Hoang Street. The first impression of every visitor coming here is its ancient décor which reminds of an ancient Hanoi. Dinh Café is where you can enjoy a truly delicious egg coffee when admiring the beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake.
2. Discovering Hang Dao street night market, Hanoi
Hang Dao Night Market is celebrated from 18:00 to 23:00 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The night market stretches from Hang Dao Street, over Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square to the gate of Dong Xuan Market. Hang Dao Night Market is famous for its wide range of street food. The street food here is not only yummy but also has a very reasonable price. Almost food is from VND 10,000 to VND 30,000. In addition, when wandering Hang Dao Street Night Market, you can have chances of buying a variety of wonderful things including, souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, and shoes.
3. Joining walking street around Hoan Kiem lake
The walking street around Hoan Kiem Lake officially put into operation in September 2016. Up to now, it has been a famous and favorite site of not only Hanoians but also almost all visitors in Hanoi. The walking street opens from 18:00 Friday to 23:59. During these times, all vehicles are banned to give place for walking street.
When joining the walking street, you will have chances of experience the real lifestyle of the locals. The walking street around Hoan Kiem Lake is always crowded, animated and colorful. You will find here a wide range of delicious street foods. The walking street looks like an outdoor art exhibition because of colorful handicraft shops, a long line of an amateur painter with beautiful portrait painting, and photographic exhibition of Vietnam. Besides, you will be surprised at the talented performance of Vietnamese young people including dancing, beatboxing, and doing magic. No matter how the weather is, you still can find many bands playing around the walking street.
If you don’t have so much time for Hoan Kiem, these 3 must-do things will be the best choices for you to do! Hope you have a great trip in Hanoi.