Bai Dinh Pagoda is one of the most famous spiritual landmarks in Ninh Binh, Vietnam. This impressive pagoda complex offers a wonderful opportunity to understand the Vietnamese expression of Buddhism.
In this article, I’d like to share a brief introduction to this famous Ninh Binh landmark, including the following sections:
Things to see
My travel tips
Where is Bai Dinh Pagoda?
Bai Dinh pagoda is located on Bai Dinh mountain in Gia Sinh commune, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province. Its location is about 5km from Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, 15km from Ninh Binh city, and 100 km from Hanoi.
This area has a long history of formation and development associated with 3 major dynasties of Vietnam: Dinh, Tien Le, and Ly.
How to get to Bai Dinh pagoda
To visit Bai Dinh, you firstly need to get to Ninh Binh.
After arriving at Ninh Binh, you can take a taxi or rent a bike and explore the area. It takes about 30 minutes to travel from the city to the temple.
Bai Dinh temple’s Ticket prices
Bai Dinh entrance fee is free, however, if you need to there’s a fee to use other services such as electric car or entrance to Bao Thap.
Electric car ticket: 30,000 VND / person / way.
Tickets to Bao Thap: 50,000 VND / person.
Also, the tour guide service for the new Bai Dinh pagoda is 300,000 VND / person, or both the new pagoda and the old pagoda are 500,000 VND / person.
Things to see at Bai Dinh pagoda
Bai Dinh complex has 2 main areas: the ancient pagoda with ancient relics and the new pagoda which was built in 2003.
The ancient pagoda
The ancient pagoda was built over 1000 years ago by Zen master Nguyen Minh Khong. It’s located on a mountain high 187 m, about 800m from the new pagoda to the Southeast.
After climbing 300 flat stone steps, you can reach the gate of the ancient Bai Dinh. It’s definitely worth your time and effort to climb up the mountain and to visit this part of the pagoda.
Before entering the temple, you can buy incense and wishing-envelop to pray. The integration of the ancient pagoda into the cave and mountain is stunning. Some important places to see here are Patriarch Cave, Buddha Cave, and Cao Son Altar.
The new pagoda
After visiting the ancient pagoda, you can follow a small path leading to the new pagoda complex.
The newly built pagoda is an 80-hectare site including different highlights such as Jade well, Belltower, the main temple, and the hallway with 500 statues of Arhat.
With a length of 1,700m, The Arhat corridor at Bai Dinh pagoda is the longest one in Southeast Asia. It includes 2 lines starting from Tam Quan Noi gate to the Ta Vu and Huu Vu house.
Here you can find 500 statues of Arhat in monolithic blue stone carved by famous artisans in the stone craft village of Ninh Van, Hoa Lu. Each statue is 2.5 m high on average, weighs from 2 to 4 tons, and engraved elaborately.
The front pedestals of 500 Arhat statues have engravings with the names of each Arhat, in both Vietnamese and Chinese below. Each sign has a number so visitors can easily identify and find information.
Festivals at Bai Dinh pagoda
Like many other large temples, Bai Dinh also has a festival that takes place every year.
The spring festival starts from the 6th day of the Lunar new year and lasts until the end of the third lunar month. It has 2 main parts:
The ceremony includes the incense offering rites to worship Buddha and St. Cao Son.
Although it’s free to visit Bai Dinh pagoda, you should take an electric car from the gate to the pagoda as the distance is quite far away. The car ticket costs 30 000 VND. (~$1.5)
I love the view from the pagoda. On my trip there, I visited the ancient pagoda first and then the new one. However, if you don’t have much time, you can choose one of them and take an electric car directly there.