BAI DINH PAGODA COMPLEX
The Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex is a compound consisting of Buddhist Temples including the old temple and the newly built larger temple. It is located on Bai Dinh Mountain and Ba Rau Hill respectively in the province of Ninh Binh, Vietnam. The pagoda complex serves as an important religious site for Buddhist pilgrims across the country.
The old temple on Bai Dinh Mountain is one of the several pagodas built during the Dinh Dynasty when Buddhism became widespread in the country. The temple is known as one of the most important Taoist, Buddhist, and Mother Goddess worship sites. On the other hand, the new Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex was built between 2003 and 2010. A 700-hectare complex with huge halls and gardens.
ENLIGHTENMENT AT BAI DINH PAGODA COMPLEX
Included in our Vietnam itinerary is a trip to Ninh Binh. We visited Hang Mua Viewpoint, Trang An, and the Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex as our last destination. All of these are included in the travel tours we availed. Being a Catholic, Buddhist temples and practices are unusual to me. The statues and architecture amaze me but the Gods and practices feel very foreign. We met a new friend during that trip and he told me that he worships Kuan Yin or Quan Am, the goddess of compassion. This is the first time I learned that they also pray to other supernatural figures. Buddhists do not believe in any kind of God but there are figures that can help or hinder their path towards enlightenment.
The Bai Dinh Pagoda complex is huge and we only visited the majority of the structures in the new area. The complex is well-built. It has a corridor that guides you to the main temples with a view of the Fairy Lake and the gardens. The architectural style of the buildings is of traditional Vietnamese blended with contemporary aesthetics. What amazed me more was the intricate designs of the interiors and the bright golden statues of the Buddhas. It has a feeling of grandeur and mysticism. Just standing and looking at those makes me feel enlightened.
Here is the list of the structures inside the complex:
- The Three Internal Gates (Tam Quan Noi) – The main entrance to the pagoda that has three layers of curved roofs. It has a Dharmachakra or the wheel of Dharma symbol.
- Arhat Statue Corridor (Hanh Lang La Han) – A 3-km corridor with 500 Arhat statues. It is the longest Arhat corridor in Asia. The statues were carved and constructed by 700 workers and 100 artisans.
- Bell Tower (Gac Chuong) – Octagonal in shape with three stories. Houses a huge bronze bell weighing 36 tons.
- The Kuan Yin Hall (Dien Quan Am) – Houses the statues of Bodhisattva with a thousand eyes and arms and Kuan Yin. Biggest in Asia.
- Buddha Darma Lord Temple – Houses the majestic bronze statue of Gautama Buddha. Highest and heaviest statue of the Buddha in Vietnam
- The Three Periods Temple (Dien Tam The)– consists of the 3 identical statues of Buddha which represent for the past, present, and future. The biggest in Vietnam
- Patriarch’s Hall
- The Kuan Yin Tower
- Stele House
- Maitreya Buddha Statue (Tuong Phat Di Lac) – A 10-meter-tall bronze statue located on the highest hill of the complex. The largest bronze Maitreya Buddha statue in Southeast Asia
- Stupa (Bao Thap) – a 13-storey stupa where the relics of Buddhas from India and Myanmar are stored. Considered as the tallest stupa in Southeast Asia.
- Bai Dinh Ancient Pagoda – has an ancient front temple, a cave to worship the Buddha, and other temples to worship the kings, saints, and the mountain god.
The trip to Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex may not be my pilgrimage but it widened my knowledge about Buddhism and tickled my curiosity to learn some of the Buddhist beliefs and practices. Traveling to Ninh Binh may not be complete without a trip to Bai Dinh, it may not be that historical but the spiritual exposure, experience, and architecture are worth a visit.
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TRAVEL GUIDE & TIPS
HOW TO GET THERE:
a. BY TRAIN/BUS:
- Take a train/bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. TRAIN/BUS TICKETS TO NINH BINH VIA 12GO (Travel Time: 2 Hours & 30 Minutes; Fare: 120,000 VND ~ 195,000 VND)
- From Ninh Binh, take a taxi or a motor-taxi or book a Grab to Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex (Travel Time: 40 Minutes)
b. CAR RENTAL:
c. TRAVEL TOURS (include round-trip transfers, lunch, and tour guides):
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
- During Spring for the pleasant weather but also expect huge crowds.
- Entrance Fee: FREE
- Electric Car (Adult): 60,000 VND/person/roundtrip
- Electric Car (Child): 40,000 VND/person/roundtrip
- Electric Car and Bao Thap Tower Entrance Ticket (Adult): 200,000 VND/person
- Electric Car and Bao Thap Tower Entrance Ticket (Child): 140,000 VND/person
- VIP Electric Car and Tour Guide: 2,500,000 VND
- Tour Guide Fee: 500,000 VND
- Parking Fee: 40,000 VND (Car) and 15,000 VND (Motorbike)
- ACCOMMODATIONS IN NINH BINH
- Bai Dinh Hotel (Located inside Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex)
- Emeralda Resort Tam Cốc
- The Goat Boutique Resort
- Liberty Hall Tam Coc Hotel & Villa
- Tam Cốc Retreat Ninh Bình
- Tam Coc Minh Hung Homestay
- ACCOMMODATIONS IN HANOI
- Madelise Palace Hotel & Spa
- Hanoi Graceful Hotel
- Ha Noi Memory Central Hotel & Spa
- Amira Hotel Hanoi
- Le Chanvre Hotel & Spa
CHECK OUT THESE DISCOUNTED/PROMO RATES FROM KLOOK:
- Hanoi Half-Day Tour with Vietnam Army Legendary Jeep
- Bai Dinh – Trang An – Mua Cave Tour from Ha Noi
- 3D2N Exploring Sapa Local Village Tour from Hanoi
- [Route 1+2] 3D2N Halong Bay Deluxe Cruise from Ha Noi by Phoenix Cruise
- Hoa Lu, Tam Coc/Trang An, and Mua Cave Day Tour from Hanoi
- OPERATING HOURS: 6:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Daily, All year round)
- DRESS CODE: Dress appropriately as this is a spiritual and religious site.
- There are a lot of stairs and grounds to walk on, so wear comfortable footwear.
- Electric Cars are needed to go from the Parking and Reception Center to the main gate of the Pagoda.
- There are no restaurants inside the Bai Dinh complex but there are restaurants outside and in front of the complex.
- Cultural and spiritual ceremonies happen from January to March.
- Bring water, sunscreens, a raincoat, and an umbrella as there’s a lot of walking on open grounds.
- Do not touch the statues and do not vandal on walls.