Ninh Binh is a province in Vietnam that boasts not only stunning natural landscapes but also ancient temples with unique and captivating architecture. Among these impressive sites, Bich Dong Pagoda stands out as a renowned tourist attraction in Ninh Binh. As a spiritual hub, it offers a serene retreat, taking pilgrims and tourists on a journey to the sacred realm of Buddhism amidst the tranquil mountains.
1. Where is Bich Dong Pagoda? How to get there?
Bich Dong Pagoda is nestled in Ngu Nhac Mountain, Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province.
To reach the Tam Coc - Bich Dong area, travelers can opt for various means of transportation such as train, bus, motorbike, or car. The distance from Hanoi to Tam Coc - Bich Dong is approximately 110 kilometers.
One can board a train or take a bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, which takes about 2 to 2.5 hours to reach. A train ticket from Hanoi costs approximately VND 110,000, while a bus ticket costs from VND 70,000 to 210,000.
Once you reach Ninh Binh, it takes about 10 minutes by car to reach Tam Coc, where Bich Dong Pagoda is situated. From Tam Coc, you can reach Bich Dong Pagoda by renting a bicycle or motorbike, taking a taxi, or you can opt to walk and revel in the beautiful scenery.
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2. Learn about the long history of Bich Dong Pagoda
Originally constructed in 1428 during the reign of Emperor Ly Thai To, Bich Dong Pagoda used to be a small pagoda nestled in Ngu Nhac Mountain.
In 1705, two Buddhist monks named Tri Kien and Tri The discovered this pagoda and re-constructed it into three levels: Lower Pagoda (Ha Pagoda), Middle Pagoda (Trung Pagoda), and Upper Pagoda (Thuong Pagoda).
In 1774, Lord Trinh Sam of Dang Ngoai (Outer Land) visited the pagoda and was impressed by the breathtaking panoramic view of nature there. The pagoda caught his attention, and he named it Bich Dong (Green Pearl Cave) Pagoda.
3. Top 5 notable attractions of Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh
Bich Dong Pagoda, located on a mountain, consists of three levels: Ha Pagoda, Trung Pagoda, and Thuong Pagoda. Each of the three pagodas has a roof with four upwardly curved corners, resembling the feathers of a phoenix’s tail.
3.1. Lower Pagoda (Ha Pagoda)
Located at the base of the mountain, Ha Pagoda is a two-story structure with 10 roofs and 5 rooms. It is made of an ironwood truss, crossbeams, and spars. In addition, there is a remarkable 4-meter-tall monolithic stone pillar. Inside the pagoda, there is an altar adorned with Buddha statues. The burning incense surrounding the statues creates a sacred atmosphere.
3.2. Middle Pagoda (Trung Pagoda)
Halfway up Ngu Nhac Mountain, visitors can admire the beautifully constructed Trung Pagoda after climbing approximately 120 steps from the foot of Ha Pagoda. This unique Vietnamese pagoda features traditional tiled roofs and walls adorned with Chinese letters.
Divided into two parts, one at the front and the other inside a mysterious cave, Trung Pagoda boasts figures of fairies, little boys, flying dragons, turtles, and Buddha. There is also a massive bronze bell with intricate engravings hanging in the dark.
3.3. Upper Pagoda (Thuong Pagoda)
Ascending 40 steep stone steps from the dark blue caves of Trung Pagoda, visitors will reach the breathtaking Thuong Pagoda, the highest pagoda on the mountain. Thuong Pagoda has two rooms, a forecourt, and a stone altar in the outer room. The inner room houses a shrine of Bodhisattva. Beside Thuong Pagoda, there is a pond called Cam Lo here, which is believed to be able to cure all ailments.
3.4. Dark Cave Bich Dong
Just a few steps beyond Trung Pagoda lies Dark Cave, which can be reached by climbing about 21 steps. The cave features a large bronze bell cast by the two monks, Tri Kien and Tri The, in 1707. As you approach the entrance of the cave, you will see numerous Buddha statues that add to the cave's mystical ambiance. Moving forward, you will be amazed by the stunning paintings with embossed images that decorate the cave's walls.
3.5. Xuyen Thuy Cave
Xuyen Thuy Cave is a fascinating and unique semicircular cave that runs for approximately 350 meters along the Bich Dong massif from east to west. The average width of the cave is 6 meters, with the widest part being 15 meters. Visitors can reach the cave and Bich Dong Pagoda by taking the entrance to the Hydrodynamic River at the rear of the mountain, opposite the road to the pagoda.
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4. Bich Dong Pagoda opening hours and entrance fee
- Bich Dong Pagoda opening hours: The pagoda is open all day, so you can visit the pagoda any time.
- Bich Dong Pagoda entrance fee: To visit Bich Dong Pagoda, you need to buy a ticket to Tam Coc - Bich Dong tourism complex at VND 120,000 per adult and VND 60,000 per kid.
5. Extra tips for your visit to Bich Dong Pagoda Vietnam
- As there are few stores outside the pagoda, it is recommended to prepare all necessary items in advance for a hassle-free tour.
- Bich Dong Pagoda is open year-round for visitors to explore. If you plan to visit this pagoda as well as other tourist attractions in Ninh Binh, the ideal time to travel is either from April to June or during the last three months of the year, from October to December. For those looking to see the pagoda in spring, the first three months of the year, from January to March, are the most suitable.
- Visiting the temple, it is essential to wear appropriate and respectful clothing. Avoid revealing clothes.
- As Bich Dong Pagoda is situated on high ground, be prepared for a fair amount of walking and consider wearing a comfortable pair of shoes for mobility.
Coming to Bich Dong Pagoda, do not miss out on the opportunity to try some exciting activities, such as taking a Tam Coc boat tour, visiting the lesser-known Linh Coc Pagoda, and learning more about the Tran Dynasty in Vietnam while admiring the stunning karst mountains at Thai Vi Temple.
Besides Ninh Binh, Vietnam boasts numerous other tourist destinations that guarantee once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. Do not forget to include Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, and Ha Long on your journey to discover the beautiful S-shaped country.
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Nestled amidst the rugged mountains and serene caves of Ngu Nhac Mountain, Bich Dong Pagoda is a mesmerizing ancient relic that exudes an aura of solemnity. Its harmonious blend of spiritual atmosphere and natural splendor form an ethereal landscape that is truly one-of-a-kind. It is no wonder why visiting this mystical sanctuary is always considered one of the most exciting things to do in Ninh Binh.