Bai Dinh Pagoda – Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist complex with over 500 Buddha statues
October 30, 2019
Located in Ninh Binh, the Bai Dinh Pagoda is a huge Buddhist complex featuring several temples and more than 500 intricately carved Buddha statues. This temple is flooded with local devotees and tourists throughout their operating hours thus, it’s better to visit early in the morning. For those who are curious and interested, you can get your fortunes told by the resident monks (but you’ll need to have someone translate for you).
Here’s a warning not to get scammed – there are many guides who ‘park’ themselves near the carpark and at the entrance where you can get tickets to ride the electric car. They will try to convince you to hire them, but they charge an exorbitant price. To be honest, it is not necessary to visit the Bai Dinh Pagoda with a guide since there are signboards and large placards placed around the complex with detailed explanations. It is also easy to navigate yourself around the complex, so don’t worry about getting lost.
Moving on, the electric car dropped us off at the Tam Quan Gate (Bai Dinh Pagoda’s three-entrance gate). This is the only way for visitors to enter the pagoda. Simply follow the sheltered walkway with steps to begin your exploration of the Bai Dinh Pagoda. This sheltered walkway is lined with over 500 Buddha statues.
You’ll come across the 3-storey high Bell Tower that’s shaped like a lotus. There’s a flight of stairs leading to the peak of the tower, so be sure to ascend it to take in the view of the big bell and the lush greenery surrounding the tower. You’ll get a glimpse of the temple worshipping Bodhisattva, the temple of Buddha and the temple of three identical statues of Buddha (called Dien Tam The in Vietnamese).
The highlight of Bai Dinh Pagoda for Jayden and I was being able to go into the Stupa, and go all the way up the Stupa. There’s an impressive shimmering golden statue inside the Stupa. From the top, we admired the stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and villages in Ninh Binh.
Although you’ll have to overcome hundreds of steps to explore all areas of the Bai Dinh Pagoda, I’m quite sure you’ll be pleased to hear that the walkway is sheltered and you will not be walking under the hot sun. Overall, I feel that the Bai Dinh Pagoda is worth a visit if you’re vacationing in Ninh Binh.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Address: Xã, Gia Sinh, Gia Viễn, Ninh Bình, Vietnam
Opening Hours: Daily 7am to 6pm.
Admission Fee: There is no entrance fee to visit Bai Dinh Pagoda, but I recommend paying for the electric car instead of walking into the pagoda from the carpark. It costs 80,000 vnd (return trip) and includes a visit up the tower.