Apparently we have a lost and lonely golden calf to thank for Hanoi’s most expansive body of water. Confused and disorientated while looking for its mother, the calf spun round and round until a great crater was formed. The newly formed crater then filled with water, trapping the poor calf at the bottom of the lake where, according to legend, it still resides to this day. With these four lovely cafes on different sides of the lake, there is no excuse not to enjoy the mythical calf’s tragic handiwork.
The main reason to come to Co Ngu Quan is the view, which is not just enjoyable for the expanse of water that rests before you, but also the eclectic mix of Hanoi rooftops that surround. You’ll also have a spectacular view of Tran Quoc Pagoda abstractly reflected in the rippling lake. Try and get here on a clear day for the sunset.
Bohemia has West Lake’s loveliest outdoor patio, with panoramic views that take in the more modern developments over in Ba Dinh. A big glass window with minimal decoration ensures that the views from within are almost as good as they are from outside, and the drinks and cakes are superb.
If you like to have something to look at then you’ll be spoilt for choice at Cafe Nhac Xua. Peer inside at Mr. Binh’s rotating collection of speakers, gaze across West Lake at Hanoi’s modern other, or watch the balancing fisherman to see if they get lucky.
October is best enjoyed in the evening on one of the small balconies that are spread over the multiple floors. You can also position yourself within one of the inside lounge rooms for satisfying West Lake views.