Hoan Kiem Lake is the real heart of Hanoi and the best time to visit is at the weekend….
Hoan Kiem Lake is the real heart of Hanoi. The best time to visit is at the weekend, when the streets are closed off to traffic and filled with games, musical performers and street artists instead. It’s amazing to cross the road and go from the chaos of the capital city to walk on empty streets free from cars and beeping motorbikes.
Every Friday evening through to Sunday, Hanoians and tourists flock to the area to kick-back and enjoy lake life, it’s an oasis of calm in a city that never stops moving. As well as the usual crowds of joggers and people practising tai chi, there are huge games of Jenga and old-school pastimes like tug-of-war and O Quan, a children’s board game chalked on the roads. Big groups play Da Cau (hacky sack) for hours, it’s one of Vietnam’s most popular sports.
As you wander, you’ll come across street performers offering everything from traditional gong singing to Latin and Korean dance music, which is very popular in Vietnam. You might spot young couples posing for wedding pictures by the lake, mass aerobic classes, games of chequers and hawkers selling metallic helium balloons. If you need a break, grab a snack from one of the street food stalls or let a street artist paint your portrait.
At a time when everyone’s always on their phones, it’s great to see people outside socialising at Hoan Kiem Lake on the weekends. The atmosphere is amazing, almost like a carnival. Instead of dodging traffic, I loved watching the little kids drive around in battery operated model police cars.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Pam, who's travelled extensively in Vietnam. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember – the vespa rider who’ll whizz you round HCMC for a unique foodie tour, the guide who’ll take you fishing with locals at Chuon Lagoon and the ranger who’ll guide you to golden-cheeked gibbons to hear their dawn duets.
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