Head out of the Old Quarter to Tay Ho, Hanoi's "West Lake" neighborhood. North of Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda sits West Lake, the largest lake in the city. Hanoi's West Lake is home to shopping malls, condominiums, five-star hotels, nice restaurants, and a calmer and more laid-back lifestyle than the chaos of the Old Quarter. It's also home to three of the city's oldest and most beautiful temples.
Quan Thanh Temple - 11th century "Place of the Gods"
Quan Thanh Temple, meaning the "Place of the Gods" is an 11th century Taoist temple on the shores of West Lake. The temple is dedicated to the Taoist god Xuan Wu, the "Dark Warrior", who is especially revered by martial artists.
People come to the temple to burn ghost paper, which is often available for sale inside and around the temple complex.
There is a small admission fee (10,000d) which goes towards maintenance and upkeep at the temple.
Quan Thanh Temple is located at Thanh Niên, Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hanoi. The temple is close to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda.
Tran Quoc Pagoda - the city's oldest Buddhist temple, on a small island in West Lake
Hanoi's oldest Buddhist temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, is one of the city's most impressive and beautiful sites. The tall pagoda sits on a small island in West Lake, reached by a bridge. Prayer flags blow in the breeze, and curls of incense float up from the wooden prayer halls. There is no admission fee to visit this pagoda, although donations are welcome.
You'll often see Buddhist monks performing rituals at this temple, and it's very popular with Buddhist Hanoians and foreign tourists alike.
You can reach Tran Quoc pagoda from Quan Thanh Temple in just a short walk. It is located at Thanh Niên, Yên Phụ, Ba Đình on a small island in West Lake.
Den Thuy Trung Tien - a tiny Taoist shrine on its own small island
Immediately across the road from Tran Quoc Pagoda, on another (much smaller) island is Den Thuy Trung Tien, a small Taoist shrine.
There is no admission to enter this temple.