Ngoc Son Temple is a famous spiritual site that is always included in any Hanoi travel itinerary. Not only reflecting the profound spiritual life of Vietnamese people in the feudal period, the temple also boasts unique architecture and a good view of the famous Hoan Kiem Lake. Therefore, it is packed with hundreds of locals and tourists coming to explore every day.
1. The history of Ngoc Son Temple
According to the stelae at the site, Ngoc Son Temple’s construction started in autumn 1841, under the reign of the Ly Dynasty. It worships Van Xuong De Quan (Wenchang Dijun), a Taoist deity that brings happiness and wealth to scholars. It is also dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao (1231 - 1300), who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century.
The temple has undergone several demolitions throughout history. In 1865, it was repaired by scholar Nguyen Van Van Sieu (1799 - 1872). He built Tran Ba Pavillion, The Huc Bridge, and Pen Tower, turning the site into a big architectural complex at Hoan Kiem Lake.
Standing peacefully at the heart of the capital city, Ngoc Son Temple has witnessed numerous events over the last few centuries. In 2013, it was recognized as a National Special Relic site. So far, it has become a popular destination for international visitors and Vietnamese people who come to pray for good fortune or simply to admire the beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake.
2. The distinguished architecture of Ngoc Son Temple Hanoi
Ngoc Son Temple is an ancient work standing in the middle of a bustling city. The whole architectural complex is designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Before accessing the main temple building on the islet, you will pass through some architectural works in the complex, specifically:
2.1. Nghi Mon Gate
Nghi Mon Gate is the entrance to the complex, with 2 columns and walls engraved with Chinese letters on both sides.
Stepping inside, you can see Pen Tower on the left. The tower was constructed atop a stone hill in 1865, during the reign of King Tu Duc (1829 - 1883). It is 28 meters tall and has a stone feather pen on top. Carved on the tower are 3 Chinese letters “Ta Thanh Thien”, meaning "Write onto the sky". It is dedicated to the contribution of Trinh Lords (1545 - 1787) in literature and the battle against northern invaders.
2.2. Long Mon Ho Bang Gate
Passing the Pen Tower, you will enter Long Mon Ho Bang Gate, which also features 2 columns and walls on both sides. The walls are designed with roofs like in many pagodas. The right wall is embossed with the shape of a dragon, with two Chinese letters on top meaning "Dragon Gate” (Long Mon). On the left wall, you can see a white tiger carved with Chinese letters, meaning Tiger Board (Ho Bang). The Dragon Gate and Tiger Board symbolize successful examinations, which inspire young people to keep learning.
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2.3. Dai Nghien Gate
Dai Nghien Gate is located at the entrance of The Huc Bridge, near the Pen Tower. On top of the gate is an ink pot. The pot is carved from blue stone, lying on the back of 3 stone toads as if they are 3 firm legs for the pot. In the center of the pot, there is a poem of 64 Chinese letters by the famous writer Nguyen Van Sieu. It is said that on the morning of the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, when the sun rises, the stone feather pen atop the Pen Tower will cast its shadow over this ink pot.
2.4. The Huc Bridge
The Huc Bridge is regarded as a symbol of the Sun God, its name meaning “where sunlight beams in early morning”. The bridge is made of wood, painted in red, and shaped in a curved form. Coming here in the morning, you can enjoy the early sunshine and cool breezes in the middle of immense water. When the night falls, the bridge illuminates, creating a truly enchanting sight.
2.5. Dac Nguyet Lau Gate
Going to the end of The Huc Bridge, you will reach Dac Nguyet Lau Gate, also known as the “Moon Gazing Pavilion”. The gate is shaded by an old banyan tree and surrounded by overgrown trees. It has 2 stories. The upper story is covered with 2 layers of roof. Here, there is a round window, with surrounding images of phoenixes and dragons.
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2.6. Tran Ba Pavilion
Tran Ba Pavilion is located in the south of Ngoc Son Temple. It was built to function as a steady shield against evil cultural influences in the feudal period. It has a square shape with 2 layers of roof, supported by 8 columns, 4 made of stone and 4 of wood.
2.7. The main area of the temple
The main area includes 2 temple buildings sitting next to each other. One building worships General Tran Hung Dao and Van Xuong De Quan, with their statues displayed inside. The other displays the preserved bodies of 2 big turtles that once lived in Hoan Kiem Lake. They are placed inside glass boxes for preservation and reverence.
These turtles hold significant cultural and historical importance in Vietnam, particularly in relation to the legend of the lake's mystical turtle. According to folklore, a magical turtle surfaced from the lake and returned a mythical sword to Emperor Le Loi, who led Vietnamese forces against invaders!
3. How much is Ngoc Son Temple entrance fee?
- Children under 15 years old: Free
- Students: 15,000 VND/ticket
- Adults: VND 30,000/ticket
Ngoc Son Temple opening hours: 7 am - 6 pm on weekdays and 7 am - 9 pm on weekends
Besides looking up the entrance fee and opening hours, you should also pay attention to Ngoc Son Temple dress code, as the temple is a place of solemn and sacredness:
- Walk gently, refrain from laughing and making noise.
- Choose formal, non-revealing clothing (No shorts, mini skirts, or tank-top).
- Take shoes and sandals off when entering the temple building to light incense.
4. Where is Ngoc Son Temple? How to get there?
Ngoc Son Temple is located on Jade Islet, a high hillock in the northeast of Hoan Kiem Lake. People can reach the islet through the strikingly red The Huc Bridge.
Located in downtown Hanoi, it is easy to reach Ngoc Son Temple by any means of transportation, including personal vehicles, taxis, or public buses. Renting a motorbike is an ideal option to explore the temple and other corners of Hanoi. Meanwhile, renting a car or taking a taxi will be more suitable if you travel in a big group or with your family. If you choose to go by bus, you can take buses No. 08, 14, 31, and 36, which all pass by Hoan Kiem Lake.
Currently, Hanoi has multiple taxi companies, so you can take a taxi from anywhere. Among these options, XANH SM Taxi distinguishes itself as a trustworthy, sustainable, and comfortable choice.
XANH SM Taxi - the first electric taxi company in Vietnam, operated entirely with VinFast electric cars.Customers who travel by XANH SM taxi not only receive an excellent standard of service, but they also join XANH SM in its efforts to reduce vehicle emissions and safeguard the environment. XANH SM provides standard and luxury taxi service, airport taxi, with attractive promotions. Customers can easily book a taxi in 04 ways:
(1) Call the national hotline 1900 2088
(2) Wave on the street like a traditional taxi
(3) Book on the Taxi Xanh SM app. Click HERE to download the app
(4) Use the beVinFast service on the multi-service customer platform BE to book Xanh SM taxi
If you visit Ngoc Son Temple at the weekend, be noted that there are walking streets around Hoan Kiem Lake, from 7 pm on Friday to 11:59 pm on Sunday. During this time, vehicles are not allowed to enter these streets.
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5. Other must-try activities near Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple is located at the heart of Hanoi, so there are plenty of nearby attractions with must-try activities for visitors.
- Explore Hanoi Old Quarter: You can take a leisurely stroll through the labyrinthine streets and discover an array of shops, boutiques, and art galleries. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, soak in the rich history, and witness the blend of old-world charm with modern influences.
- Check-in at St. Joseph's Cathedral: Located just a short distance from Ngoc Son Temple, St. Joseph's Cathedral is a stunning church and a prominent landmark in Hanoi. Step inside to admire the beautiful stained glass windows, towering columns, and intricate architectural details.
- Enjoy Hanoi cuisine: No visit to Hanoi is complete without indulging in the city's delectable cuisine. Hanoi is renowned for its diverse street food and local delicacies. Head to the nearby streets, alleyways, and markets to sample iconic dishes.
Other tourist places worth visiting in Hanoi include Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi Old Quarter, Presidential Palace, and VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium - an unmissable entertainment spot. At Vinpearl Aquarium, you get the chance to observe the colorful marine life of more than 30,000 different sea specimens. Meanwhile at VinKE, your family can have relaxing moments together while your kids are getting helpful vocational guidance through many job simulation games.
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Besides Hanoi, Vietnam has many other attractive destinations, such as Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, etc. To have a comfortable stay in Vietnam, it is recommended to choose Vinpearl - a leading accommodation brand located in most touristy attractions in the S-shaped country.
Ngoc Son Temple is a sacred place that has seen many ups and downs in the capital city of Vietnam. It boasts an ancient beauty and a significant spiritual value for local people. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Hanoi, do not forget to add this site to your bucket list.
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