Vietnam Hanoi: Sunset in Hanoi West Lake

Travel Period: 21 Sep – 28 Sep 2014

{PREVIOUS: Vietnam Hanoi: Water Play in Vinpearl Water Park }

Hanoi Day 2 Itinerary –

  • Vinpearl Water Park, West Lake, Bun Cha

Sunset Walk

West Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Tây) is a freshwater lake in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam. It is the largest lake of the capital and a popular place for recreation with many surrounding gardens, hotels and villas.

“The sunset at West Lake is known to be very beautiful…” Cat described what she had read about West Lake to me, as we were resting in our hotel room after a long day at Vincom Megamall Royal City.

“Hmmm…” I responded, hesitant over making the trip there, since we were quite tired and the sun was about to set very soon.

“But there’s no other days that we can make this trip again.” She explained. That’s true, since our itinerary was already fully packed.

So it’s now or never.

Every one more minute we hesitated, the less likely we would be able to see the sunset in time. “Okay, let’s go for it!” I quickly exclaimed upon this thought.

Do not live with regrets, especially when we were already in Hanoi and the lake’s only a 15-minute taxi ride away. We might never get the chance to come here again.

Shoes quickly worn, bags swiftly packed, and off we went to the hotel lobby to ask for a cab!

Time seemed to travel so slowly as we waited impatiently for its arrival.

“Is it here yet?” I asked, despite knowing that a hotel staff was already looking out for the vehicle. Let’s hope that maybe… the sun would decide to set slightly later today.

Sights at West Lake

1. Sunset at West Lake

“Drop us here, please.”

Nearing the West Lake on the cab, I quickly told the driver to drop us near the Tran Quoc Pagoda so that we could still have time to catch the sunset. Time was certainly not on our side.

Amidst a mad rush, we managed to catch a final glimpse of the sun setting, just before it disappeared from the horizon to take its rest for the night .

“Well, at least our primary objective is met…!” Despite missing the sunset at its full glory, I consoled myself.

But true enough, it’s indeed better than missing the sunset completely right? ^^

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“Hmm… Where’s the sun?”
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“There! Its final moment over the horizon!”

2. Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple

Tran Quoc Pagoda, which resides on a small island on the West Lake, was built in the 6th century and thus making it Vietnam’s oldest pagoda. The Quan Thanh Temple is situated next to it and is open for all to enter with sightseers encouraged to pray for health, luck and happiness.

“We may have missed the sunset, but at least we still have the pagoda and temple to explore!” My optimistic side was in control once more.

Heading towards the main entrance, Dar enthusiastically rushed towards it, excitedly exploring the structure and eager to enter the temple. We were surprised that he continued to be full of energy despite a long day at Vincom Megamall Royal City!

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Do note that cars can travel on this path too!

Despite located behind locked gates, we could see the beautiful pagoda standing tall beyond the temple walls. The main doors were closed and we entered via a side door.

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As we walked within the temple’s premises, Dar was still in high spirits and we had to rein him in with Cat holding his hands, so that he would run too fast ahead.

“We are in sacred grounds.” We explained to Dar. “You need to behave yourself and not be a nuisance to others.”

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We only allowed him to roam freely at the far end of the temple where it’s deserted
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Wonder what this young lady was praying for?

3. Exploring the vicinity

After exploring the temple and pagoda, we headed back to the lake side and walked around its perimeter, enjoying the serenity.

We passed by several food paddlers and we were tempted to try out some of the localities, but didn’t due to fear of hygiene issues. It would be inconvenient to look for a public toilet here, especially if a ‘urgent need’ did arise after eating the food! ^^|

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The lake continued to radiate with its beauty after the sun has set
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The neon lights in the background came from the floating restaurants

“The skies are turning dark quickly…” I quipped, noticing the change in surroundings after the sun had set. The area around the lake was pretty deserted and it would be a good idea to find a place for dinner before it got really dark.

We were soon attracted to the neon lights over at the far side of the lake, believing they should lead us to some kind of eateries.

“Yes, we are right!” We said as the floating restaurants came into our view as we walked towards them.

As we got closer however, we were a little hesitant to enter, as all the restaurants were void of customers and we knew we would feel uneasy (and unsafe?) if we were the only patrons in them. The high prices were one of the deterring factors too.

In the end, we decided to head back to the road and took a cab back to Old Quarter instead.

We would be looking for a Bun Cha eatery which Cat had sourced from the internet. Bun Cha is another local delicacy of Vietnam we had to try.

{ NEXT: Food in Hanoi: Bun Cha  }