West Lake area - review by Rusty Compass
Hanoi | see and do guide

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West Lake area

| 12 Apr 2012
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Our rating
12 Apr 2012

Hanoi's West Lake area is home to the city's oldest temple - Quan Thanh Temple, as well as the Tran Quoc Pagoda. Opposite West Lake is the smaller Truc Bach Lake where John McCain parachuted to safety after his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down on October 26 1967. The West Lake is a short walk north from Ba Dinh Square along Hung Vuong St.

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The West Lake area was once the site of the palaces and pavilions of the Trinh Lords who ruled over northern Vietnam between the 16th and 18th centuries. During the past decade, the West Lake has soon a property boom and it now hosts the modern palatial homes of Hanoi’s conspicuous new rich as well as hotels and restaurants. There are a number of points of interest for the traveller however and it’s a pleasant place for a walk as well.

Hanoi,Quan Thanh Temple,Vietnam
Photo: Mark BowyerQuan Thanh Pagoda, Hanoi

Quan Thanh Temple

A temple was first established on this site in the 11th century by Ly Thai To, the ruler credited with founding Hanoi. Since then it has been renovated many times, most recently in the late 19th century.

It features some beautiful timber carving and a 17t century bronze statue of Tran Vo - the Guardian of the North, to whom the temple is dedicated.

Hanoi,Tran Quoc Pagoda,Vietnam
Photo: Mark BowyerTran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda

A little further along on a small island on the West Lake is the picturesque Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi’s oldest. There have been many changes since its founding in the 6th century but it’s worth a visit.

B52 memorial,Hanoi,John McCain,Truc Bach Lake,Vietnam
Photo: Mark BowyerSmall monument commemorates the capture of John McCain at Truc Bach Lake after his fighter plane was shot down.

Truc Bach Lake and John McCain

Opposite Tran Quoc Pagoda is the smaller Truc Bach Lake and a decaying monument.  It marks the capture of John McCain here in October 1967. McCain was badly injured in his escape from his stricken aircraft and had to be rescued by those he was bombing. He went on to spend five and a half gruelling years mostly in Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) where, along with other PoWs, he suffered torture and terrible conditions.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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