Table of Content
Bai Dinh Pagoda | Intro
Bai Dinh Pagoda (also known as Bai Dinh Temple) is the largest Buddhist architectural complex in all of Southeast Asia, covering an expansive area of 539 hectares. It is located on a mountain, approximately 30 minutes away from the city center of Ninh Binh, and about 95 kilometers south of Vietnam's capital, Hanoi. In the name "Bai Dinh", "Bai" signifies "worship," and "Dinh" refers to the "mountain top".
Most of Vietnam's Buddhist sites are indeed quite ancient, but Bai Dinh Pagoda is an exception. The original old Bai Dinh Pagoda dates back to the 11th century, but what attracts the tourists today is Vietnam's largest Buddhist architectural complex. This expansive complex, with its vast grounds, began construction in 2003. It is relatively new as a tourist attraction. Some parts of it are still under expansion, but it has already gained fame as one of Ninh Binh's popular attractions due to its magnificent architecture.
Bai Dinh Pagoda | Transportation and Tickets
If you are staying in Ninh Binh city center or Tam Coc, Bai Dinh Pagoda is within a day trip range. You can easily reach it by using Grab, a taxi, or riding a motorcycle, with the journey taking about half an hour. If you choose to ride a motorcycle, there are designated motorbike parking areas near the entrance with parking fees of 15,000 VND. After parking your vehicle, you can purchase your tickets at the ticket counter. For more information on renting motorcycle or transportation in Ninh Binh city, please refer to this post。
This attraction is a common stop on local one-day tour itineraries. If you prefer a more convenient option, you can consider booking a one-day tour package. Typically, these tours may also include visits to places like Trang An and Mua Cave in a full-day itinerary. It's a hassle-free way to explore multiple attractions in a single day.
- Ninh Binh Day Trip: Bai Dinh / Trang An / Mua Cave (kkday)
- Ninh Binh Day Trip: Bai Dinh / Trang An / Mua Cave (klook)
Visiting the temple complex itself does not require an entrance fee. However, due to its vast size, taking an electric car up the mountain is necessary. The electric car operate until 8:00 PM, and the one-way cost is 30,000 VND. If you wish to enter the iconic Stupa, you will need to purchase an additional ticket, which is priced at 50,000 VND.
Bai Dinh Pagoda | Attractions
The corridor with Arhat statues
Upon reaching the hilltop by electric car, you can enter the corridor with Arhat statues. Along the corridor, there are 500 Arhat statues. It's said that just the corridor surrounding the temple is 3 kilometers long, making it the longest Arhat corridor in Asia.
The Bell Tower
From the corridor with Arhat statues, you can continue to the three-story octagonal bell tower. The bell tower is situated halfway up the hillside, and it houses a massive 36-ton bronze bell, which is the largest bell in Vietnam. If you take the less-traveled path to the east of the bell tower, you'll find more temples and pagodas.
The Kuan-Yin Hall
Beyond the bell tower, you can continue your ascent towards the Kuan-Yin Hall. It is one of the most significant buildings and is designed in traditional Vietnamese temple style. Inside the hall, there are three statues of Kuan-Yin.
The atmosphere at the Fairy Lake behind the Kuan-Yin Hall is incredibly serene and solemn.
Buddha Dharma Lord Temple
Climbing the steps from behind the Fairy Lake leads you to the main hall, the Buddha Dharma Lord Temple, which is resplendent with golden decorations. Inside the hall, you'll find the heaviest Shakyamuni Buddha statue in Asia, a magnificent sight to behold.
From the Buddha Dharma Lord Temple, you can head east toward the giant tower Stupa. This towering structure is one of the main attractions at Bai Dinh Pagoda. To enter the tower, you'll need to purchase an additional ticket for 50,000 VND. Take the elevator to the thirteenth floor observation deck, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the entire Bai Dinh Pagoda complex – a sight worth seeing. When entering the hall, it's important to wear shoe covers as a sign of respect. The tower holds significant religious importance in Buddhist temples, housing the Buddha's Dharma body.
The Three Periods Temple
After exiting the tower, continue your ascent to the Three Periods Temple (Three World Buddha Hall), situated at the highest point of the newly constructed complex. It houses statues of the three Buddhas. The entire hall is magnificent.
If you have purchased a return electric car ticket and don't plan to visit the ancient pagoda, you can take the electric car back downhill from here.
Bai Dinh Ancient Pagoda
The Bai Dinh Ancient Pagoda, also known as Old Bai Dinh Temple, is one of Vietnam's oldest temples. It is a historical site dating back to 1136 and is situated within mountain caves. If you're interested in exploring the ancient Bai Dinh Temple, you can take the mountain road westward from behind the Three Periods Temple. The scenery along the mountain road is beautiful, and the atmosphere is serene. Inside the Ming cave (bright cave), you'll find statue of the Buddha, while the Ang cave (dark cave) houses statue of Kuan-Yin. Visiting during the evening adds a different ambiance to the experience with the dim lighting.
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