Like most cities in Vietnam, Hanoi lacks in public open spaces. The closest equivalent to such green areas is the Lenin Park where a large lake lies in the middle of trees, gardens and lawns. The park also features a huge statue of Lenin, a historical Soviet leader. Today, the Lenin Statue & Park lies between the Old Quarters of Hanoi and the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum.
Compared to its equivalents found all over the world, the Lenin Park is tiny. While New York’s Central Park is over 341 hectares, London’s Hyde Park at 255 hectares and the Le Bois de Paris about 865 hectares, the Lenin Park, however, is a mere 50 hectares and most of it is made up of water.
Despite its relatively small size, the Lenin Park is a great place to stroll around as there are usually plenty of activities going on. Sports activities are a common sight with badminton, jogging and games of “da cau” a favorite. “Da Ca” involves a game of keeping a shuttle-cock lookalike in the air only by use of the players’ feet. The more laidback and leisurely games include chess and mahjong. Passersby will definitely notice couples snuggling on the benches under the trees as the park is a well-loved date place. If you don’t mind riding on a giant plastic swan, a boat ride on the lake is a pleasant activity, especially for the kids.
A small amusement park can also be seen in the Lenin Park where circus rides and activities can be enjoyed. Although the Lenin Park can only offer the mere basics of a simple park, the main pleasure is the cool shade of the trees on a hot and humid day making it a partial respite from the intense hustle and bustle of the capital city.
The Lenin Statue can also be found within the park grounds. It is a monument of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was known to have led the Red Army to victory during the Russian Civil War before he established the first official socialist state. Most locals that pass by the statue appear to repeatedly ignore the monument despite his achievements. The monument stands as one of the few existing statues of Lenin in the world that serve as reminders of the Russian Revolution. Unfortunately today, such remnants have been depleted even from the country of Russia itself.
From Ho Hoan Kiem, start walking towards the west along Hang Khay that eventually becomes Trang Thi. From there, the street will split where you will be heading towards Dien Bien Phu Street, the road on the right. Cross the railway track and continue walking until you reach the Hanoi Army Museum to your right. The triangular-shaped Lenin Park would be on your left and the Lenin Statue will be quite visible from any point of the park.
The Lenin Statue & Park can get particularly busy in the afternoon and is open 24 hours day while admission is free. In recent years, the lake found in the middle of the park had been drained to make room for re-landscaping the lake shores. Although the lake has been completely drained, the Lenin Park still comes alive by the time the sun starts to set.