Nearby Attractions: Citadel of Ho Dynasty

Main Entrance, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Ninh Binh Province
Citadel of Ho Dynasty is located in Thanh Hoa Province, but easier to visit from Hanoi - Ninh Binh. Moreover, Ninh Binh is tourist town with the A-List destination as Halong on Land and is on the North-South open bus route also.
After visiting Citadel of Ho Dynasty, stayed overnight at Ninh Binh town and had 6 hour left for other places. I chose to Bai Dinh Pagoda and Trang An by private car with driver from hotel's tour desk.

For Half Day Trip choose one from three options:

Bai Dinh Pagoda 25min drive of Ninh Binh
Trang An Natural Site 7km NW of Ninh Binh
Trang An is on way to Bai Dinh

Tam Coc Natural Site, 9km SW of Ninh Binh
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, 12km NW of Ninh Binh
There is a road link Tam Coc with Hoa Lu

Cuc Phuong National Park 45km of Ninh Binh

Viharn and 13th Level Tower, Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Claimed one of the largest Buddhist temples in Asia
At least 2hrs. for visit

I do not know much about this place of worship. This is the ancient Mahayana temple since 10th Century but has created a very large new section based on Feng Shui principle, as well as many palaces and temples in Vietnam. The river on the front, the mountain lies behind and inside is decorated according to the Mahayana notion about ten thousand Buddha.

Giantic entrance leads to the ground of a large open-air market selling food and goods. Pilgrims are almost all Vietnamese. The enclosure was built along the long corridors to walk up a hundred of stairs to upper religious buildings where are situated on the five-level plains in the valley.

Along the long corridors are decorated with hundreds of carved stone Buddhist Saint statues and thousands of small Buddha images decorated on the walls of the terraces. On middle ground of second level is the Bell Tower. The third level is the viharn of Thousand Hand Goddess of Mercy (I guess). At the back of viharn is a pond. 

One of Three Presiding Buddha, Bai Dinh Pagoda
One Thousand Hand Goddess of Mercy, Bai Dinh Pagoda
Buddhists' Saint Statues along the Corridor, Bai Dinh Pagoda

Next to the pond are stone staircases up to the fourth floor courtyard of the giantic bronze bell. There is the viharn of Sitting Buddha flanked by Standing Buddhist Saint images. Fifth level is the location of the largest viharn where is enshrined by Three Buddha images and Buddha Gaya replica. I guess again three Buddha are Past Buddha, Present Buddha and Future Buddha.

On the left of viharn of Three Buddha is a high Standing Buddha outdoor monument with 145 steps staircase. Opposite is octagonal traditional style 13 levels concrete tower that construction is not completed yet.

Among the mist in the cold day, wet and muddy, packed with a thousand of Vietnamese pilgrims and a hundred of street vendors, I was also thrilled with the large religious buildings, Buddha images, Buddhist Saint statues and beautiful painting-style scenery around this temple.

Bai Dinh Pagoda does not display the history, any information and no English speaking officials the same as other temples and some attractions in Vietnam. One thing is unusual I did not see even a single monk in the huge temple territory.

Beside food and snacks available at open-air market, there is a cheap and yummy vegetarian food court at the ground floor of viharn of Three Buddha.

Getting there:
Day tour from Ninh Binh town or Hanoi
Taxi, moto taxi, private car or motobike rental
There is no public transport

Trang An Natural Site, Ninh Binh Province
**Now Trang An have been inscripted as UNESCO WHS on year 2014**
Please click the title on the right menu.

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