In the northern part of Hoan Kiem Lake sits the Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) on a small island. Dating back to the 14th century and surrounded by water and shaded by trees, the temple was built to honor the hero Tran Hung Dao, who defeated 300,000 enemies sent to invade Vietnam by the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan. Sacred altars can be seen dedicated to the scholars Van Xuong and La To, the patron saint of physicians. Buildings of the temple include the Pen Tower, the ink-slab, the Moon Contemplation Pavilion and the Pavilion against Waves, all have symbolic meaning that you need to listen carefully to your guide in case any interesting story slips away. There are some ceramics and ancient bells inside. You’ll also notice a stuffed turtle that said to have weighted 250kg contained in a glass case.
The temple on island and the lakeshore are connected by an elegant red bridge, The Huc translated as ‘Flood of Morning Sunlight’, which is constructed in classical Vietnamese style and guarded by large stone gateways with Chinese characters. The spot has been a popular one with travelers. If you are among them, see this 12-Day Vietnam Tour from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh.