As you knew, the Hanoi city is famous because of not only its traffic but also the tourist attractions especially pagodas. Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the most charm and magic pagodas in outskirts of the Hanoi city between West Lake and Truc Bach Lake.
In spite of its small and high architecture, it is capacity of capturing the locals as well as visitors’ attention thanks to its unbeatable location. That is not the only reason which you had better visit this pagoda including other great views in the ancient Hanoi city. From Year 545 Calendar, it has been known as the oldest Pagoda in the heart of Hanoi city. I am sure that you are also wondering about its name “Tran Quoc”, right? That means “National defense”.
It is situated on a small peninsula of the Eastern West Lake. As I said easier, Tran Quoc pagoda is considered as the oldest building in Hanoi with over 1,500 years in historic times. This Buddhist architecture is a nice combination of solemn and pretty landscape attached the quite and peaceful atmosphere of West Lake. Its values about history and architecture have attracted countless home and outside visitors.
The first name of Tran Quoc pagoda is “Khai Quoc” which means opening the country lasting from 544 to 548 years (Emperor Ly Nam De dynasty). However, until the Ly Thai Tong dynasty (15th century), the “Khai Quoc” pagoda was renamed into “An Quoc” (peaceful country).
Actually, the today’s location of Tran Quoc pagoda is not its original one. In 1915, because of a serious landslide, its ingrained foundation can not be kept steady so our incumbent government and locals had to move the entire building to Kim Ngu Island on its Eastern West Lake (its position on these days)
“An Quoc” was not the last renaming times. This process was gone on until it became the “Tran Quoc pagoda”. You had better know that each renaming times related to an important historical milestone of nation and the wish of people with this holy sanctuary.
Notwithstanding a sacred sanctuary, it is well-known about a wonderful scenery so for a long time ago, it has become a favorite sightseeing area of most Vietnamese emperors and lords on Tet holidays, full moon days as well as other festivals. Even, although our today’s modern society and urbanization condition influence more or less the surrounding landscape, its cultural and historical values can still help this pagoda keep its fame.
This building in total of 3000m2 is located in the crowded Than Nien street and is surrounded by the Western Lake’s sliver tide. What is more, this complex design is followed to the Buddhist architecture’s strict riles. For this reason, it has a large number of the layers of buildings, 3 main “Tien Duong” houses and a place to burn incense. The perfect “Công” scrip of Tran Quoc pagoda is created from the connection of these rooms.
Thanks to the high stupa built in 1998 of Tran Quoc pagoda, it is very easy for visitors to recognize it from a far distance. In terms of this stupa, it has total of 11 floors with 15m in height. Specifically, each of floor has a vaulted window where holds the gemstone Amitabha statue. The gemstone nine-storey lotus is sculptured on the top of building.
In addition, from this place, it is also very easy for you to admire a Bodhi tree 50 year old. This is the present of former Indian President when visiting Hanoi city in 1959. According to the explanation of Thich Thanh Nha of pagoda, this is a significant correlation: “The lotus represent Buddha while the Bodhi is a symbol of supreme knowledge”.
Moreover, Tran Quoc pagoda is considered as a small museum storing the inestimable antique objects like the meticulous engraved and polished worshiping statues of skillful craftsmen in the front area. Especially, the most beautiful Vietnamese statue – “Thich ca thap niet ban” is also put here.
What to do
- On the first and 15th days lunar calendar monthly: chanting, lecturing, performing the setting free rituals and requiem
- The weekday: chanting and lecturing.
- On the festive seasons or big holidays of Buddhism (Vesak, Vu Lan), the Tran Quoc pagoda will hold the extra cultural exchange programs in Buddhism as well as organize a night festival complete with flower garlands and coloured lanterns to serve for Buddhists and visitors all over the world.
- Besides visiting the landscape of pagoda, visitors are able to also see the photos of Buddhism in the guest house.
- Burn incense and pray for good luck.
- Take photograph.
Services at Tran Quoc Pagoda
- The souvenir shop: visitors can buy souvenirs at the counter inside the pagoda precinct: radio for listening scriptures, paper fans, rosary, books on Buddhism, the photographs of the pagoda scenery and so on.
- The parking service: it is in the outside Tran Quoc’s gate (5000 VND/ a motorbike)
- The storage service: visitors can store free at the guest house of pagoda.
- On the first and 15th days lunar calendar and other holidays, there are many shops selling incense, fruit, snails, turtles, mussels, fish to serve pilgrims in the setting free rituals.
Some notes when visiting Tran Quoc pagoda
Obviously, you are able to visit at any months of year. Especially, if you love experiencing the crowded atmosphere and taking part in full of the activities here, you should come on the first and 15th days lunar calendar monthly or Tet holiday. In case you want to enjoy an open and quite space to take picture of as well as possible, visiting on other remaining days.
In the event of visiting on summer, visitors will be enjoyed a tranquil nature on the blooming lotus season on the West Lake’s surface which evokes a nostalgic, romantic and beautiful space.
Do’s and don’ts
- Because of the pagoda – a spiritual tourist place, you have to dress discreetly and politely.
- When entering pagoda, you ought to be silent to keep solemn and burn incense to worship as long as expressing devotion when praying blessing.
- Follow the instructions of the management and tourist guide.
- Do not litter in pagoda.
- Please always remember the slogan: “Drop fish without dropping nylon bags” to protect our environment, specifically the landscape of West Lake when you take part in the setting free ritual.
What to bring
On summer, Hanoi is very hot so you had better bring sun protective clothing, hat, umbrella, sunscreen and insect repellents.
You should also prepare the extra offerings (incense, flowers, cake and fruit) before visiting pagoda. If not, you can buy them in the shops in front of pagoda with more expensive price.
- If you do not follow any tours with tourist guide, you can ask directly management or the Buddhists your questions and information about pagoda.
- In case you stay at night here, you should contact to hotels or motels nearby to book in advance.
- If you visit when priests and Buddhists are chanting, you can directly join with them.
How to get there
Due to Tran Quoc pagoda is located in the outskirts of Hanoi city, you should not walk. The best way is to move by taxi. It just takes you about 75.000 VND. In the event of motorbike, it seems to be more adventurous.
Other two options for you is to rent bike about 100.000VND per day or motorcycle about 150.000 VND per day but firstly, let you learn how to use a model in Vietnam the right rules.
Entrance fees: free
Opening hours: from 07.30 to 17.30