Planning a visit to Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, but not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place!
In this article I have outlined everything you need to know about visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh! Including how to get there, where to stay, the best things to do once there and more!
Famous for its 22-meter tall tower, Bai Dinh Pagoda doesn’t often receive the attention it deserves. It’s actually one of the biggest Buddhist temple complexes in Vietnam, and is home to lots of beautiful corners.
You can spend a few hours taking in the vast temple grounds, enjoying the views, admiring the golden Buddha statues, the unique architecture and learning its history.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in, and discover everything you need to know about visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh, Vietnam!
- 1 What is Bai Dinh Pagoda
- 2 Where is Bai Dinh Pagoda
- 3 How to Get to Bai Dinh Pagoda
- 4 Best Time to Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda
- 5 What is There to Do at Bai Dinh Pagoda?
- 6 Bai Dinh Pagoda Opening Hours & Entrance Fees
- 7 Is Visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda Worth It?
- 8 Where to stay to visit Bai Dinh Pagoda
What is Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda, Ninh Binh Province, is an enormous pagoda and sprawling temple complex in northern Vietnam.
Made up of the original old temple and multiple newer temple buildings, the whole complex covers around 700 hectares of hillside close to the small city of Ninh Binh.
Bai Dinh Pagoda is Vietnam’s largest Buddhist temple. Over the years, the site has attracted crowds of pilgrims who go there to pray in the scenic surroundings.
Work on the newer part of the temple started back in 2003, with the temple structure finally completed in 2010.
The temple’s location, perched up on a leafy hillside, means that visitors can enjoy views of the surrounding area from many viewpoints.
Bai Dinh Pagoda rises impressively to a height of 100 metres and offers the chance to glimpse incredible panoramic views.
Where is Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is located in the Ninh Binh Province of Northern Vietnam. It’s not as close to Tam Coc or Trang An as some of the other attractions, but it’s still in the area.
You can see the position of Bai Dinh Pagoda in the Google Map below, but if you’re driving there yourself it’s better if you head to the Bai Dinh Parking area here, as it takes you directly to the main entrance.
How to Get to Bai Dinh Pagoda
It takes around 2 hours to drive the 200 kilometres from Hanoi to Bai Dinh Pagoda. There are a few different options to consider when it comes to transport.
By public transport: The most budget-friendly option is to take public transport. Coaches leave twice an hour from Giap Bat Bus Station (Hanoi Southern Bus Station) to Ninh Binh.
The price of the ticket is around 150,000 VND (around 6 USD).
Tourist minivans: Tourist shuttle buses also ply the route. The journey takes around 2 hours and costs 10 USD.
With a tour: There are several tours to choose from. For example, this 1 Day Luxury Tour to Bai Dinh sees you collected from your accommodation in Hanoi and driven to Bai Dinh Pagoda, as well as visiting the Trang An Caves and Mua Cave.
From Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is the city closest to Bai Dinh temple. Located around 20 kilometres from the temple complex, there’s a choice of transport options to consider.
By public transport: Several local buses leave from Ninh Binh bus station and travel to the temple. The journey takes around 1 hour and costs only a couple of dollars.
By motorbike/bicycle: Many travellers choose to travel from Ninh Binh to the temple by hiring a motorbike or bicycle in the city, and getting themselves there on two wheels.
The route between the two locations is very panoramic, as it weaves through the countryside that’s studded with dramatic karst peaks.
With a tour: If you don’t fancy having to figure out public transport or driving a bike in Vietnam, you can also join a tour like this one.
That way you’ll have your own driver, knowledgeable local guide, pick-up and drop-off, and you’ll also visit some other iconic sights in Ninh Binh on the same day!
Best Time to Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is open for visitors all year round. The best time to visit is from January to March. This is when the weather is warm, and the surrounding hills come alive with nature.
However, this is also the time when many local Vietnamese people visit the temple and although it’s a nice time of year to see the pagoda, it also means that you’ll be visiting during the peak of the tourist season.
I would also recommend visiting early in the day. This is a good idea as you’ll miss the crowds arriving on tour buses later in the day, and you’ll also avoid the hottest part of the day if you’re visiting in the warmer months.
What is There to Do at Bai Dinh Pagoda?
As the largest Buddhist temple complex in Vietnam, there are plenty of things to do at Bai Dinh Temple. From taking in the sights from the viewpoints to being awed by golden statues of the Buddha, you can spend a few hours here wandering around.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
The 13-storey pagoda and an enormous golden Buddha overlook the entire complex. The octagonal tower stands at 22 metres tall and can be climbed via a staircase.
The main hall
The main hall, known as the Tam The Hall, is a sizeable building with a roof that is almost 60 metres long.
Built from stone and timber sourced from the local area, the design is classically Vietnamese with curving eaves that resemble the tail of a phoenix.
Local artisans from nearby villages have decorated the interior with lacquerware, bronze statues, and stone carvings.
The old temple
The old Bai Dinh temple can be found on the hillside around a 10-minute walk from the main temple. To get there, visitors must climb over 300 stone stairs and pass through a pretty temple gate.
The temple is built into a collection of caves decorated with Buddhist icons and other venerated deities.
Tam Quan Gate
Translating to the “Three-Entrance Gate”, this is the temple’s main entranceway where all visitors pass through.
The bronze bell
A number of large bronze creations decorate the temple grounds. One of the most popular is its monumental bronze bell.
Weighing 36 tons, the bell is the largest of its kind in the country and is intricately decorated with carvings of dragons and Chinese symbols.
The ancient well is a very sacred part of the temple. The moon-shaped pool was the temple’s original water source and is still venerated to this day.
Bai Dinh Pagoda Opening Hours & Entrance Fees
The opening hours for Bai Dinh Pagoda are between 7:00AM to 6:00PM, Monday to Sunday.
The Bai Dinh Pagoda entrance fee is completely free, although there is a 50,000 VND (2 USD) fee to climb the stupa.
There is the option to pay for an electric golf buggy, which will take you from the main parking area to the start of the temple. The cost of hiring the golf buggy is 30,000 VND (around 1.20 USD) per person for one trip.
For an extra price you can get a “VIP” hop-on hop-off buggy service, which you can get at all the main sites of the temple, so that you can drive around the large temple site.
Tour guides can be hired from the temple’s main ticket office which is located at the entrance to the complex.
Guides cost between 300,000 to 550,000 VND (12 – 22.50 USD), depending on the number of temples you would like to visit with the guide.
Is Visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda Worth It?
Taking a trip to Bai Dinh temple in Ninh Binh is totally worth it! Although the pagoda itself may not be the most amazing one you’ve ever seen, overall, the collection of temples is actually really impressive.
The whole temple complex is one of the biggest and most important Buddhist temples in Asia, let alone Vietnam, so I would say it’s definitely worth a visit.
This combination of activities makes Ninh Binh a must-see stop on any Vietnam itinerary.
Where to stay to visit Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda isn’t as close to Tam Coc or Trang An as some of the other attractions, but I would still stick to one of these two towns when deciding where to stay.
This is because they’re the most touristy towns, with the most restaurants, bars and services. Here are some of the best places to stay in both towns for every budget.
Budget: Trang An Lamia Bungalow – If you’re looking for an affordable and unique stay, these bamboo bungalows are the perfect place for you!
Mid-range: Green Mountain Homestay – This is where we stayed and I can honestly say it’s a great place to stay in Ninh Binh. Affordable, nestled amongst the mountains and rice fields, with a pool and friendly staff.
Luxury: Mua Caves Ecolodge – This ecolodge has a pool, bungalows with a view and offers a delicious breakfast buffet. Plus, you can visit Mua Caves viewpoint early in the morning before the crowds arrive!
Final thoughts on visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda Ninh Binh
There you have it, the ultimate Bai Dinh Pagoda travel guide! Have you visited Bai Dinh Pagoda before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!
Since it’s a bit further out compared to other Ninh Binh attractions, many travellers overlook Bai Dinh Pagoda, and I think they’re wrong to do so.
It might not be as Instagrammable as Halong Bay or Sapa, but Bai Dinh is a beautiful Buddhist temple complex, with stunning architecture and views.
If your Vietnam itinerary allows for a bit of extra time in Ninh Binh, I would definitely pay Bai Dinh Pagoda a visit.
I hope you have found my Bai Dinh Pagoda guide useful in planning your own trip! If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!
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