Tran Quoc Pagoda – A blooming lotus in the crowded city’s heart

by Long Vu
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Being praised as one of the most beautiful pagodas in the world and a must-visit destination when comes to Vietnam, the majestic Tran Quoc pagoda stands out like a blooming lotus within the city’s West lake. The pagoda offers visitors a peaceful atmosphere featuring stunning scenery. With its historic, cultural and architectural values, Tran Quoc pagoda is a Buddhist hub in the past and also a relic of Hanoi in the present.  

I. Brief information

Source: Luxury Travel

Location: Thanh Nien Road, Yen Phu ward, Tay Ho district, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 11:30 AM / 1:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Entrance fees: Free
Get to Tran Quoc Pagoda: Just more than 4 kilometers away from the center of Hanoi, the pagoda is located in an islet within the famous West Lake so it is very easy to find. It took about 15 minutes to travel by car. If you search for buses that stop nearby the place, bus number 33 and 50 will be suitable. 

II. The historical meaning of the first pagoda in Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda - A blooming lotus in the crowded city’s heart

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With its 1500 years of history, Tran Quoc pagoda is the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. Its historical value was calculated as it is the capital of the Buddhism of Thang Long citadel in the Ly and Tran dynasty. 

Originally, Tran Quoc pagoda constructed in the 6th century in the pre-Ly dynasty was named as Khai Quoc pagoda, which means National Founding. At that time, it was situated on the Red River’s banks. The pagoda name later was changed again into An Quoc pagoda (National Pacifying) in the 15th century. At the beginning of the 17th century, due to the encroachment of the river, Tran Quoc pagoda was moved to Kim Ngu islet connected with the mainland by a causeway. The pagoda was renamed as Tran Quoc (means National Defense). 

Tran Quoc Pagoda - A blooming lotus in the crowded city’s heart

Source: Flickr @Prof. Mortel

Whatever it is, the names of the pagoda always carry the wish of the people attached to each period of history.

III. View and architecture of Tran Quoc pagoda

1. Architecture

The ritual vibe of Buddhism is strictly displayed by the architecture and the interior of the pagoda composed of 3 main houses: Tiền Đường (the Front House), the incense burning house and “Thượng Điện” (the Upper House). 

In the garden, there is a huge  Bodhi tree with heart-shaped leaves. The tree is donated by the former President of India Rajendra Prasad when he visited Hanoi in 1959. The Bodhi is regarded as sacred – the tree of previous Buddhas by Buddhists that symbolizes supreme knowledge and awakening.  

Source: Flickr @Prof. Mortel

The highlight of the complex is a 15-meter-tall stupa (“Bảo Tháp Lục Độ Đài Sen”) with 11 floors constructed in 1998. In the top of the tower is a 9-story sculpture of a lotus flower (“Cửu đỉnh liên hoa”) made from gemstones. Lotus is the national flower of Vietnam and also represents purity, enlightenment, and achievement. The pagoda is in red because this color symbolizes luck and prosperity in Chinese and Vietnamese beliefs.

2. Cultural Values And Scenery

Besides the unique architecture, the historic and cultural values of the pagoda are remarkable. Tran Quoc pagoda conserves a big collection of worshipping Buddhist statues, antiques, ancient steles as well as poems and distichs of Vietnamese kings under the Nguyen dynasty. 

Tran Quoc Pagoda - A blooming lotus in the crowded city’s heart

Source: Luxury Travel

Regarding the breath-taking surrounding landscape, the majestic Tran Quoc pagoda is a favorite destination of many Kings of Vietnam to sightseeing in Tet holiday and full moon festivals. Years go by and this place still welcomes thousands of Buddhist monks and worshippers all around the country per year to celebrate special ceremonies such as Buddha’s Birthday, Vu Lan Festival and the animal release rituals. Furthermore, because Tran Quoc pagoda stands between Truc Bach lake and West lake, it provides a wonderful view for sunset lovers in the evening. From the pagoda, you can take a walk along the shores of the West lake for a lot of entertainment activities. 

In 2016, Tran Quoc pagoda is praised as one of the sixteen most beautiful pagoda in the world by Dailymail UK and ranked the third by wanderlust.co.uk in 2017.  

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IV. Regulations of Tran Quoc pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda - A blooming lotus in the crowded city’s heart

Source: Flickr @U.S. Secretary of Defense

  • Tran Quoc pagoda is a place of sanctuary, visitors must strictly follow the dress code
  • You are not allowed to wear skin-showing clothes such as shorts, mini skirts, and tank-top. 
  • Before you enter the shrines of worshipping, you have to take off hats, umbrella, and shoes. In addition, please avoid swearing or cursing inside the pagoda to show your respect to the gods, the pagodas and other worshippers.  

Notes: The pagoda is hugely crowded on the 1st, 15th of the month and other special occasions in the Lunar calendar. You can either join to know more about Vietnamese culture or avoid these days.

  • When you come to the pagoda, you can bring foods (usually fruits) or small changes for the gods to wish for luck and prosperity. In Vietnamese and Chinese customs, burning incense in odd numbers is a way to honor the gods in hope of health and peace. 

V. Spiritual attractions near Tran Quoc pagoda

After visiting the temple, there are 4 worshipping spots nearby.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - A blooming lotus in the crowded city’s heart

Source: Flickr @Prof. Mortel

  • Quan Thanh temple: One of the Four Sacred of Thang Long which is also located on Thanh Nien road and just 750 meters away from Tran Quoc pagoda.
  • One Pillar pagoda: The cultural symbol of Hanoi with the most unique architecture in Asia.
  • Bach Ma temple: 2.5 kilometers away from Tran Quoc pagoda towards the Old Quarter, The temple features majestic dragon sculptures and other antique designs. 
  • Ngoc Son temple: An attraction that is prominent in the center of Hoan Kiem lake, 4 km away towards Phan Dinh Phung street.  

Isolating yourself with the cramped city and the rush pace of life, you can always refresh your mind here. If you are interested in spiritual destinations like Tran Quoc pagoda, require a tour with Luxury Travel now. 

V. About Luxury Travel

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Opened in 2004, we – Luxury Travel is heading at customizing unique, private and 5-star tours. We care about your feeling. On what, we work to design a tailor-made and unforgettable journey that meets all of your demands. With almost 99% of satisfaction, 60% of repeat client rate, and good comments on TripAdvisor, we are proud to say that our company is one of the best tour providers in the region. We guarantee professionalism and responsibility in protecting the environment of the visited places while promoting local tourism towards sustainability.  

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Phone: (+84) 4 3927 4120
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