BAI DINH PAGODA - A MAJESTIC PAGODA IN VIETNAM

Bai Dinh pagoda lies within the scenic complex of Trang An in Ninh Binh province, including the original pagoda and the newly built one. The temple complex is located in Gia Sinh commune, Gia Vien district, about 18km from Ninh Binh city center and about 100km from Hanoi.

Table Contents
  • I - How to get to Bai Dinh Pagoda?
  • II - How to explore Bai Dinh pagoda?
  • 1 - Area 1: Tam Quan gate
  • 2 - Area 2: Bell tower
  • 3 - Area 3: Quan The Am hall in Bai Dinh pagoda
  • 4 - Area 4:  Phap Chu hall
  • 5 - Area 5: Tam The Hall of Bai Dinh pagoda
  • 6 - Area 6: ancient Bai Dinh pagoda
  • III - Other information
  • 1 - Bai Dinh pagoda history
  • 2 - Bai Dinh pagoda festival
  • 3 - Bai Dinh pagoda hotel
  • 4 - Travel tips
bai dinh pagoda
Source: VnExpress

Bai Dinh pagoda in Ninh Binh is well-known for its remarkable records such as: the largest bronze Buddha statue in Asia, the highest Stupa in Asia, two largest bells in Asia, the longest Arhat corridor in Asia, ... This used to be the place to hold the Grand celebration of Buddha relics from India to Vietnam in 2010. Every year, the pagoda welcomes millions of visitors to come, especially in spring.  

I - How to get to Bai Dinh Pagoda?

Bai Dinh bus station is located in Bai Dinh - Cuc Phuong street, Gia Sinh commune, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province. From the station, you walk a few tens of meters to the reception area, where you can find the direction and more information about the pagoda and buy electric tourist car tickets to visit the pagoda. The Bai Dinh pagoda electric cars depart from the reception area and stop at the park area about 100m from Tam Quan External gate

Electric tourist car ticket: VND 30,000 / person / way (~ $1.3)

From Hanoi to Ninh Binh: Booking a limousine is the best choice to save time and explore the famous Ninh Binh attractions such as Bai Dinh, Trang An complex landscape and Tam Coc in one day. 

II - How to explore Bai Dinh pagoda?

In order to easily track and schedule a visit, Local Travel Idea divides the Bai Dinh  complex into 6 areas (according to the increasing height). You can follow this exploring-ordered direction: 

- Area 1 - Tam Quan gate

- Area 2 - Bell tower

- Area 3 - Quan The Am hall

- Area 4 - Phap Chu hall

- Area 5 - Tam The hall

- Area 6 - Ancient Bai Dinh pagoda

 

bai dinh pagoda in ninh binh

6 areas in Bai Dinh - Source: Internet

The areas 1 to 5 are connected by Arhat corridors consisting of 500 Arhat monolithic statues. Each statue is 2.5m high, including the pedestal, with different shapes, manners and postures.

Note

- Do not place money or touch the statues.

- Bai Dinh pagoda entrance fee: free 

- Opening hours: 6am - 10pm

1 - Area 1: Tam Quan gate

There are two gates: The External gate and The Internal gate. Tam Quan External gate is about 100m from the electric-car parking. The gate is made of reinforced concrete with a curved roof. Walking through The External gate, you enter a paved road along two crystal-clear lakes leading to Tam Quan Internal gate of Bai Dinh pagoda Vietnam.

Being made from Tu Thiet woods (including 4 most valuable wood trees in Vietnam: Iron-wood, Lauan Meranti wood, Apitong wood and Dysoxylum cauliflorum wood), Tam Quan Internal gate has a three-storey roof bent to 4 sides and covered with glazed tiles. Step through this gate, you see 2 statues of Dharmapala (Trung Ac Dharmapala and Khuyen Thien Dharmapala) made of bronze, each weighing up to 12 tons.

From the western and eastern sides of Tam Quan Internal gate of Bai Dinh pagoda, the old wooden house system can be seen with 16 rooms and 4.5m long on each side. The 70-meter wooden houses are connected with the Arhat corridors on both sides.

2 - Area 2: Bell tower

The 22m high Bell tower, consisting of a three-storey curved roof and having an octagonal structure with 24 curved roofs, looks like a giant lotus flower. On the first floor of the bell tower, a bronze drum weighing up to 76 tons is casted in the form of Dong Son bronze drum (a famous type of ancient bronze drum created by the Dong Son culture in Vietnam with unique patterns). On the second floor, there is a 36-ton bell that is identified as the largest bronze bell in Vietnam.

3 - Area 3: Quan The Am hall in Bai Dinh pagoda

Walking from the bell tower area throughout the beautiful flower garden, you come to Quan The Am hall (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara hall). The temple consists of 7 compartments roofed with Bat Trang ceramic tile and entirely made of Tu Thiet wood. 

A 9.57m high and 80-tons weigh thousand-eye Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara statue, casted with gold-plated bronze, is placed in the middle of the temple. It is considered the largest bronze statue of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in Vietnam. The three middle compartments have 3 horizontal lacquered boards and 3 hanging “Cửa Võng” (a type of door in the shape of the letter "M", made of wood and sophisticatedly sculpted and engraved with a pattern of dragon's head). 

 

bai dinh pagoda ninh binh

Quan The Am Temple in Bai Dinh pagoda in Ninh Binh - Source: Mapio

There are many unique bronze-made worshipping items, and a wooden altar with sophisticated carvings of four holy creatures, four seasons, and flowers. There is a 63m wide and 77m long lake namely Phong Sinh Lake next to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara temple. 

4 - Area 4:  Phap Chu hall

Through Phong Sinh Lake, there is a large paved courtyard, leading to Phap Chu hall (Buddha Dharma lord temple). It is famous for the statue of Shakyamuni, which was confirmed as "The tallest and heaviest bronze statue of Shakyamuni in Vietnam" in 2006. The highlights inside this hall in Bai Dinh pagoda are a 10m high & 100-ton weigh bronze statue  and Vietnam’s largest 3 horizontal lacquered boards and 3 hanging “Cửa Võng” which are exquisitely carved from valuable woods. 

After visiting Phap Chu hall, you visit the 13-storey Stupa. The Ly Dynasty architectural style Stupa is covered on the outside with Bat Trang baked bricks and decorative patterns such as clouds, water waves, lotus petals,...

Inside this Stupa of Bai Dinh pagoda Vietnam, there is a Buddha Shakyamuni statue made of brilliant gold-plated copper, a blue stone altar sophisticatedly carved with patterns of dragons, lotus flowers and mascots. The reliefs on the wall depict the Buddha's life from his birth to his righteous practice.

The 13th floor of the stupa is where the Buddha's relics (from India, Thailand and Myanmar in 2008) were placed. To reach the top of the tower, you can go up the stairs to admire the elaborately carved stone relief system or take the elevator to save time. 

Tickets to visit the tower are VND 50,000/person (~ $21.5).

5 - Area 5: Tam The Hall of Bai Dinh pagoda

Tam The hall (The Three period hall) is located on a hill 67m higher than Tam Quan gate. From the courtyard in front of the hall, you can follow one of two ways to Tam The building, each 8m wide, including 32 stone steps. Between the two entrances, there is also a large square stone relief carved with four spirits (dragon, quilin, turtle, phoenix). On both sides of that stone relief, there are two large stone dragons, 10m long, carved with beautiful pine trees and ball canals.

Tam The hall has 3 floors, including 12 curved roofs on four sides. The roof is covered with dark brown glazed ceramic tiles from Bat Trang pottery village, curved up like a phoenix tail.

 

bai dinh ninh binh

Tam The hall in Bai Dinh pagoda Ninh Binh/Source: Internet

Inside the Tam The hall, the 3 monolithic bronze Three Periods statues in size of 7.2m high & 50-ton weight are all inlaid with gold and placed on three 1.5m stone pedestals carved with impressive patterns. These 3 statues were confirmed by the Vietnam Records Book Center as "the largest set of bronze Tam The statues in Vietnam" on December 12, 2007.

Located on a 100m high hill on the left side of Tam The Temple, there is a huge Maitreya Buddha statue. The 80 tons & 10m high statue is recognized by Vietnam Records Book Center - Vietkings as the largest Maitreya statue in Vietnam.

6 - Area 6: ancient Bai Dinh pagoda

The last area of the pagoda complex is the ancient pagoda. Located on Dinh mountain, it is about 800m from Tam The Hall to the South. 

This pagoda is not famous for the stunning curved roofs, the massive pillars or the magnificent worshipping halls like the new pagoda. The ancient pagoda impresses you  with the unique cave-pagoda concept architecture. All altars are placed in the cave, amplifying the sacred and mysterious atmosphere. 

Well of Jade

At the foot of Dinh mountain, there is an ancient well called Well of Jade-recorded as the largest well in Vietnam. Legend has it that this is the place where Zen master Nguyen Minh Khong took the decoction of medicine for the people. The clear blue well in Bai Dinh Pagoda Ninh Binh never runs out of water. 

Light Cave - Dark Cave

After visiting Well of Jade, you will climb about 300 stone steps to reach Bright Cave, Dark Cave, and the front house. The works of Buddha statues, altars and incense tables are all placed inside the caves.. 

In front of the caves, there is an ancient stone-carved poem written by King Le Thanh Tong (1442 - 1497) to praise the beauty of the pagoda. 

After visiting the ancient pagoda, visitors move down and follow the Arhat corridor to go to the electric car station near the external Tam Quan gate to return.

III - Other information

1 - Bai Dinh pagoda history

The ancient pagoda was built in 1136 by Zen master Nguyen Minh Khong. Legend has it that, on the journey to find medicinal plants for King Ly Than Tong (1116 - 1138), the Zen master found a cave on Dinh mountain and decided to build a pagoda and a Buddha statue. After nearly a millennium, the ancient pagoda still exists, representing the enduring vitality of Buddhism in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people.

The new pagoda area was built in 2003 with a large scale and extremely majestic but still expressing the unique Vietnamese Buddhist architecture.

2 - Bai Dinh pagoda festival

bai dinh pagoda vietnam

Festival - Source: Internet

The festival opens from the 6th day of the Lunar New Year to the end of March and consists of 2 parts. The ceremony includes the rituals of burning incense, procession, etc. The other activities include folk games, musical performances recreating the rituals of sacrifice to the heavens of King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Quang Trung. 

3 - Bai Dinh pagoda hotel

Some recommended accommodations: 

- 3-Star Bai Dinh Hotel (located in the 4th area of the pagoda), price ranges from VND 1,000,000 - 1,500,000 (~ $43 - 65); contact 02293868789.

- 4-Star Bai Dinh Garden Resort and Spa (located in the 5th area), price ranges from VND 1,500,000 - 2,000,000 per night (~ $64.7 - 21.6); contact 02293666689.

- Ninh Binh Mountain Side Homestay & Cafe, prices ranges from VND 350,000 - 1,000,000 per night (~ $15.08 - 43); Khe Thuong village, Ninh Xuan commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province; contact: 096 86 56 69.

4 - Travel tips

- The best time to visit Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh is from February to April because of the pleasant weather. However this is the peak time of the festival season, if you have children with you, you need to pay more attention. 

- You should prepare snacks and personal drinks in advance because the food and drinks sold in the parking area are quite expensive.

- You should bring sports shoes and a polite dress. 

Bai Dinh Pagoda Ninh Binh is really a majestic pagoda and well worth a visit.

U want to share?
I'm Giang - a Vietnamese with a passion for photography and travel. Two years ago I left my job to start traveling to explore Vietnam. It's great that I can share my travel experiences with you. I hope it will help you have a memorable trip to Vietnam.

— Giang Phạm

SAME CATEGORY NEWS

TRAVELERS EXPERIENCE

Experience from travelers after a trip to Vietnam

Vietnam is a beautiful country which has a diverse nature, many beautiful landscapes stretching along the direction of the country, and is known to international tourists through the "heroic" stories of the two resistance wars against France and the America. However, that is not all about this country. It can not be missed without mentioning a long-standing culture that will make you impressed by a lot of interesting things. In addition, coming to Vietnam visitors will surely be mesmerized by the rich variety of insanely delicious foods with many globally famous dishes such as Pho soup or Vietnamese bread.  Let's see how impressed international tourists were when having a trip to Vietnam with many unforgettable memories.

ARE YOU INTERESTED
IN VIETNAM?

Please enter email to get further
information for your travel plan

TRAVEL MEMORY

Best memories in Vietnam

Besides nature's beauty, historical relics,.., Vietnamese souvenirs especially handcrafted gifts with unique and catchy processes, also attract tourists a lot. This following article may be the best answer for the question “What souvenir to buy in Vietnam?”