The Hanoi West Lake, also called Ho Tay is the largest lake in Hanoi with a circumference of 13 kilometers and almost 600 hectares of surface. The lake was once a resort for mandarins and kings. This is now one of the most popular spots in Hanoi in weekend for lovers who searching the privacy. The Hanoi West Lake is a former branch of the Red River and was formed as a result of repeated flooding.

Several legends are related around the birth of this lake. One of them tells that in past time there was a 1000 years old fox with nine tails spreading terror among the country. The God order the king of Dragon to kill the fox by drowning. Another legend is the Emperor of China offered a Vietnamese monk a block of bronze. When coming back Vietnam the monk made a great bell and its ring reach to China making the golden buffalo run from China to Vietnam. People consider bronze is the mother of gold, thus the golden buffalo think that he heard the voice of mother. Realizing his mistake and anger for misunderstanding, he trampled this area and made it to the lake.

Throughout history, this lake had different names: Dam xac cao (lake of The remains of fox), Kim Nguu (Golden buffalo), Lang Bac (Waving water surface) , Dam Dam (misty lake) and finally Ho Tay (West lake), the latter having his name assigned to the thirteenth century.

Many palaces including Thuy Hoa Palace, Ham Nguyen Sanctuary, Tu Hoa Palace, Kim Lien Pagoda, and Ngoc Dam Palace were built on the bank of the lake. The 17km path around the lake leads to Nghi Tam flower village, Tay Ho, Nhat Tan peach garden and Tay Ho Temple, were built in honour of Princess Lieu.

Today, many hotels of all sizes surround the lake. Visitors can go sightseeing and enjoy typical dishes, such as Ho Tay shrimp cakes, Ho Tay snail noodles, and Ho Tay fish dishes. This beautiful lake attracts a lot of lovers, small groups of friends and fishermen. There are some household grow vegetables and flowers in the northern bank. There are many beautiful pagodas and temple around West lake such as Tran Quoc pagoda, Quan Thanh temple, West lake palace…

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