At least one hardy giant turtle still lives in the lake. It was captured and examined in early 2011 when wounds on its leg and head were identified, though it still managed to elude captors twice before being netted. It is a rare species of enormous, soft-shelled turtle known as rafetus swinhoei, of which there are only a few other specimens in Vietnam and China. This one weighed in at around 200kg and scientists estimate its age at around 80-100 years, but of course Hanoians believe it is one and the same creature that took Ly Thai To’s sword over five hundred years ago.

The turtle you’re most likely to see, however, is a heavily varnished specimen captured in 1968. It’s preserved and on view on a small island behind Den Son Ngoc, also accessible via the The Huc Bridge. Beside the bridge stands a nine-metre-high obelisk, the Writing Brush Tower, on which three outsized Chinese characters proclaim “a pen to write on the blue sky”.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Vietnam features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Vietnam

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Vietnam

The verdant limestone stacks of Ha Long Bay and the bustling streets of Hanoi are well established (and essential) stops along Vietnam’s tourist trail. But th…

02 Nov 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right