© Jeon Haein

[DAYTRIP] A Day at Hanoi’s West Lake
West Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi and the headquarters for the city’s burgeoning contemporary culture. Young people, artists, and designers come to the lakeside to socialize, fostering a vibrant culture.
“Get your morning run around the lake, have a breakfast at a nameless pho vendor,
explore charming little shops, galleries, and cafes in town in the afternoon,
and make your evening special as you dine at a trendy restaurant.
It’s how Hanoians enjoy West Lake.”

Locals enjoying tea at an open-air cafe near West Lake © Jeon Haein

Outdoor pub in West Lake © Jeon Haein

Citizens taking a walk in their neighborhood © Jeon Haein

Hanoi is a city of lakes. There are more than a handful of big, famous lakes in the city. The top two are Hoan Kiem Lake and West Lake. Located in the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake is considered ‘the heart of Hanoi’ and plays the role of Hanoi’s tourism center. West Lake is called a ‘hot place’ by the locals and expats and serves as the headquarters for contemporary culture that embraces diversity and individuality.
The sound of water splashing in the wind, the chirping birds on the trees surrounding the lakeside, and the gentle cheering by the palm leaves swaying in the air. As you walk around West Lake, you get to hear the sounds of nature from all directions. On the contrary, simply by walking a block away, you find yourself standing in a completely different world thronged with unique shops, restaurants, and cafes.
You can freely look at the expansive lake all day long if you want. You are comforted by the humble scene of the town. Small shop owners bring their own philosophy and passion to the community. The young people create Hanoi’s contemporary culture which spreads to the rest of the country. Here is the best example of a two-day travel around West Lake in Hanoi local style.

Early-risers who ride bicycles near West Lake © Jeon Haein

[06:00 AM) Pho Noodles After Morning Run
The start of a day comes much earlier in the tropical region than in Korea. In March, the sun rises around 6 o’clock on average in Hanoi. So to the people of Hanoi, 6am is not considered an early morning, but a perfect time to start the day under bright skies.
If there is Central Park in New York City, the Seine in Paris, and Hangang River Parks in Seoul, there is West Lake in Hanoi. Every morning, West Lake sees a constant stream of visitors who have come for jogging or cycling. Being the largest lake in Hanoi, the circumference of West Lake reaches 17km. It’s triple the size of Seoul’s Seokchon Lake. If you are riding a bicycle, take a round of the lake, and if you are running, a third of that is enough for a morning exercise. Fasten your shoelaces and start running bright and early. You can also rent a bicycle for riding at various bike rental shops around the lake. Breathing in the fresh air and plodding along at the West Lake will give you a true experience of living the life of a local Hanoian.
After exercising, the local people have breakfast at a street vendor selling pho. The hidden charm of traveling is in your breakfast. they say. Rice noodles taste the best in Hanoi, naturally. A bowl of freshly cooked pho filling your stomach after a hard workout presents literally a flavor to remember for the rest of your life.

Pop-up store converted from a home to sell pho in the morning © Jeon Haein

There is a hole-in-the-wall pho shop without a store sign. It is a pop-up style restaurant converted from a residential home. The business only opens during morning hours. It’s so popular that anyone with the experience of jogging or riding at West Lake would have eaten there at least once. Since it’s not an official establishment, there is no guarantee that it would be open on the day of your visit. But if you enjoy adventure, you had better give the place a chance. You can search the address ‘62 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi’ on the internet to get directions.

Inside Work Room Four © Jeon Haein

A diner with simple charm tucked away in a small alley © Jeon Haein

Bookshops are found here and there. © Jeon Haein

[14:00 PM] Multidisciplinary Culture·Art Space Work Room Four
The best way to travel West Lake is checking out every nook and cranny on foot. Even small flowers growing on the side of the street feel like works of art. Take an aimless stroll and explore a random gallery or a small, but well-stocked store on the way. You never know what kind of unexpected encounter will take place at a strange place and have a ‘resonance’ with you. It is the treasure that travel gives us, and the reason why people willingly invest time in the adventure of travel.

Inside Work Room Four, a multidisciplinary cultural space © Jeon Haein

Here at Work Room Four, the chance of finding a treasure is much greater, making it a possibility. Work Room Four is a multidisciplinary culture and art space dedicated to exhibiting and selling art pieces by Vietnamese artists as well as promoting and sponsoring various projects aimed at fostering the creative atmosphere for industry participants.
Address 31 Ngo 67 To Ngoc Van, Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi 

View of popular fusion restaurant Pepe La Poule © Jeon Haein

Menu and interior of Pepe La Poule © Jeon Haein

[18:00 PM] Restaurant Pepe La Poule
The most noticeable characteristic and charm of West Lake can be summed up in the word ‘multiculture’. The unique combination of Vietnamese traditional and Asian ingredients and Western expression and technique, with touches of fusion culture formed by expats from across the world gave rise to the one-of-a-kind West Lake ambience.
Pepe La Poule is a fusion restaurant immersed in the colors of West Lake. The restaurant is located on the most scenic and quiet road in the vicinity of the lake. Its menu lives up to its reputation, offering a multicultural menu for its international customers including local people. Italian pastas using fresh local ingredients, Japanese tuna tataki, and Chinese fried noodles represent diverse regional cuisine, perfected with the addition of a special Pepe La Poule touch. The food at Pepe La Poule carries the sophisticated balance of East and West in its flavor. In other words, it is the ‘flavor of West Lake.’
Address 22 Quang Khanh, Tay Ho, Hanoi

‘Street beer’ is popular among those looking to enjoy the lake view and drink simultaneously. © Jeon Haein

[21:00 PM] Romantic ‘Street Beer’ in Lakeside
One of the nights that we find hardest to say goodbye to is probably the one spent in a travel destination. Even after having a full meal at dinner, you can’t miss local craft beer.  Around the lakeside of West Lake stand ‘street beer’ joints offering a chance to quench your thirst while looking at the scenic lake. You can select a place that has an enticing view either on Quang An or Quang Khanh streets. The pint of beer you drink by the lakeside, sitting in a camping chair, may become the most memorable moment from the trip.

West Lake specialty dish ‘Bahn Tom Ho Tay’ © Jeon Haein

West Lake offers a specialty dish called Banh Tom Ho Tay, meaning fried shrimp of West Lake. Named after the lake(Ho Tay), the food is popular across Vietnam. You can find many restaurants specializing in Banh Tom Ho Tay in the streets off the main road. If you are in search of snacks to fill your empty stomach, how about Banh Tom Ho Tay with Hanoi local craft beer?

View of West Lake seen from Eastern and Oriental Tea House © Jeon Haein

View and signature dessert of the Tea House © Jeon Haein

[11:00 AM] Eastern and Oriental Tea House and Coffee Parlour
To wrap up the day trip, we suggest having a brunch at a scenic place. Eastern and Oriental Tea House and Coffee Parlour is famous for its flavor, charm, and sincere service among the cafes and restaurants operating around West Lake. Housed in a renovated timber house of Vietnamese style, the place is full of unique interior decorations that draw your attention.
In particular, the view of the lake through the circular window at terrace seats is one of the top in Hanoi. On the first floor of the building, you will find an amazing display of homemade cakes.  They look organic and friendly like the one gifted by your next-door neighbor. Having a tasty brunch followed by sweet desserts while overlooking the beautiful lake surely gives you a sugar high that is fit for the climactic moment of your trip.
Address 46 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Where to Stay in Hanoi: LOTTE HOTEL HANOI
LOTTE HOTEL HANOI is located in the upper floors of Hanoi’s new landmark Lotte Center. Offering a fantastic view of the entire city of Hanoi, the hotel’s 318 rooms and suites are beautifully decorated using traditional Vietnamese patterns. Its restaurants entertain guests with mouthwatering dishes cooked with the freshest ingredients from Vietnam and around the world, and the rooftop bar is famous for its breathtaking view of Hanoi’s skyline.

Address 54, Lieu Giai St. Cong Vi Ward. Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Inquiry +84-24-3333-1000
March 2022 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Writer:Jeon Haein

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  • March 2022
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
    Writer: Jeon Haein
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