Why you should visit Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake on the weekend
After witnessing the crazy traffic and crowds around Hoan Kiem Lake all week, our first weekend in Hanoi , Vietnam surprised us by how peaceful and lovely this area could be without the hustling and bustling of the weekday traffic.
We stepped outside on a Saturday morning and were shocked to see that there were no cars and no motorbikes, and that the streets surrounding the lake had been closed off for pedestrians. A local friend told us that they close down the road around the lake every Saturday and Sunday so that families can enjoy the area. It's so nice to get to enjoy the view of the famous Turtle Tower, the lake and the city in a more relaxed atmosphere than is usual in Hanoi.
Every weekend the local Hanoians come out to walk or jog and spend time with their families around the lake. Vendors sell games for kids, like toy airplanes that they can fly, and kids can rent electric cars to drive around the empty streets (or have the parent control them by remote). It’s also normal to see a group of Vietnamese teenagers doing a hip-hop dance show, street musicians, magicians, caricature sketch artists, and vendors selling all sorts of toys and candy.
Visiting Hoan Kiem Lake on the weekend is totally different from visiting during the week. It doesn’t feel as much like Vietnam as it does remind me of my time in Europe. It's fun to join the crowd and enjoy the calm and fun weekend atmosphere.
We stayed in Hanoi for one month. Although we really did enjoy our time in the city, sometimes the traffic and stress of trying to avid getting hit by a motorbike really wore us down. It was nice to have a chance to breathe and relax while walking around the neighborhood.
When you’re visiting somewhere, especially if you are staying for a long time, it’s great to try to see what local life is actually like, beyond the top destinations from the guidebooks. Here in Hanoi, local life on the weekends revolves around Hoan Kiem Lake.
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