Discover the Enchanting Beauty of Bich Dong Pagoda – Ninh Binh
Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh is a hidden gem nestled in the picturesque province of Ninh Binh, Vietnam. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history, Bich Dong Pagoda is a must-see destination for any traveler looking to discover the enchanting beauty of Vietnam. As you make your way through the winding paths and steep steps of the pagoda, you will be transported to a world of tranquil beauty and timeless elegance. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Bich Dong Pagoda is sure to captivate your heart and soul.
The Enchanting Beauty of Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh
The history of Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda has a history dating back over 200 years. It was originally named “Bach Ngoc Thach Son Dong” which means a beautiful and pure white temple located in a serene mountain and river setting. In 1774, during a visit by Lord Trinh Sam, the temple was renamed Bich Dong Pagoda. This temple is one of the famous scenic spots of the ancient capital, also known as the “second most beautiful cave in the South” (after Huong Tich Cave in Hanoi).
Having existed for nearly 600 years, Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh is a place that stores many cultural and historical values. Nowadays, Bich Dong Pagoda is classified as a special national heritage and recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site. It is one of the most sacred temples in Ninh Binh where pilgrims come every year.
What is beautiful about Bich Dong Pagoda?
The entrance to the pagoda Bich Dong
Pagoda is an ancient architectural work like many other pagodas. What is unique here is that the pagoda is built in the shape of the letter “Tam” (Chinese character). There are three separate temples that are divided into three levels along the mountainside from low to high: Lower Pagoda, Middle Pagoda, and Upper Pagoda.
Bich Dong Pagoda is built to blend harmoniously with the stunning natural landscape. The image of the pagoda hidden among the rows of towering green trees makes the place even more ancient, peaceful, and serene.
To enter the pagoda, you will walk across a stone bridge made of green stones leading to the Tam Quan gate of Bich Dong Pagoda. Here, there is a path at the foot of the mountain, paved with about 55m of bricks, which is the only way to enter Chua Ha.
Chua Ha was built with 5 sections on a high foundation at the foot of the mountain. The pagoda’s architecture is designed in the shape of the Chinese character “Dinh.” The pagoda’s roof has 2 curved layers, consisting of 8 roofs. The columns at Chua Ha are made of a single block of stone, without any joints, and with a height of over 4m. At that time, it was quite a feat to make such stone columns.
Entering the temple, at the top of the middle hall of Tiền Đường, there is a hanging plaque with the Chinese character “Mao Co Than Thanh” which means that the shape of this ancient temple is very sacred. Inside the upper hall is where the Buddha is worshiped, followed by various levels of platforms with Buddha statues and worship items such as lamps and incense burners.
After visiting the Ha temple, you will go out to the courtyard. Then, you’ll head north towards a path consisting of 80 stone steps around the mountainside. This is the path leading to the back of the mountain, where the Trung temple is located. Unlike the Hạ temple, the Trung temple has a partially exposed roof on the outside.
This is a unique temple, with only the entrance and roof exposed, while the other structures are hidden inside the cave. The temple is built with three halls to worship the Buddha. Above the temple roof, there are two Chinese characters “Bich Dong” placed by order of Lord Trinh Sam. On the left side of the Trung temple is a hall dedicated to the Holy Mother.
Dark Cave is one of the caves at Bich Dong Pagoda. It is called Dark Cave because there is no natural light and visitors need to use flashlights to explore. The cave is very narrow and difficult to walk through, only accommodating one person at a time.
Inside Dark Cave, there are many images of deities and Buddha statues intricately carved from stone. In addition, there are also cracks and strange rock formations that create unique shapes when illuminated with a flashlight.
Passing through Dark Cave is a challenging and exciting experience. It’s for visitors who want to explore the diversity of the cave system at Bich Dong Pagoda.
To reach Thuong Pagoda, you have to climb nearly 40 more stone steps along the mountainside. Thuong Pagoda is a small pagoda located in the highest position near the peak of Bich Dong mountain. The pagoda is about 60 meters higher than the stone yard on the ground. Thuong Pagoda is built in the direction of Southeast and is dedicated to the worship of Quan Am Buddha. There are two temples on both sides of the pagoda for the worship of Earth God and Mountain God. Next to the pagoda is a water tank called the “Cam Lo Water Tank” of Quan Am Buddha.
From Thuong Pagoda, you can see 5 independent mountains standing towards Bich Dong mountain, resembling 5 lotus petals. They are called Ngu Nhac Son, consisting of “Tâm Sặc” Mountain, “Gia Định” Mountain, “Con Lợn” Mountain, “Đầu Cầu” Mountain, and “Hang Dựa” Mountain.
>> Experience of traveling to Phong Nha Cave tour
Experience visiting Bich Dong Pagoda – Ninh Binh
How to get to Bich Dong Pagoda?
Bich Dong Pagoda is located in Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. The most convenient way to get to Bich Dong Pagoda is by car or motorbike.
From Hanoi, take a bus or train to Ninh Binh City (90 km away), then a taxi or motorbike taxi to Bich Dong Pagoda (10 km away). Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike or car to travel on your own.
Once you arrive in the area, there are signs leading to the pagoda. Bich Dong Pagoda is situated at the foot of a limestone mountain. You will need to climb a series of stone steps to reach the pagoda. It’s a bit of a hike, but the views along the way are worth it.
Overall, Bich Dong Pagoda is a popular tourist destination in Ninh Binh Province. It’s relatively easy to get to by car or motorbike from Hanoi or Ninh Binh City.
The best time to visit Bich Dong Pagoda
The best time to visit Bich Dong Pagoda is in the spring (from February to April) when the weather is mild and the surrounding nature is in full bloom. This is also the time for the traditional Bai Dinh Pagoda festival. It is held on the 6th day of the first lunar month.
Alternatively, autumn (from September to November) is also a good time to visit, with cooler temperatures and clear skies. The summer months (from June to August) can be hot and humid. While winter (from December to January) can be cold and rainy, so it may not be the ideal time to visit.
The price of the admission ticket.
To visit Bich Dong Pagoda, you need to purchase a Tam Coc – Bich Dong sightseeing ticket, which costs 120,000 Vietnamese dongs per adult and 60,000 Vietnamese dongs per child.
Notes when visiting a pagoda
Here are some notes to keep in mind when visiting Bich Dong Pagoda:
- Dress modestly:
Bich Dong Pagoda is a religious site, so it is important to dress modestly out of respect. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, shorts, or tank tops.
- Remove your shoes:
As is common in many Asian temples, you will need to remove your shoes before entering the pagoda.
- Be mindful of your surroundings:
Bich Dong Pagoda can get crowded. Be aware of your surroundings and be respectful of others who are there to pray or take in the sights.
- Follow the rules:
There may be signs or instructions posted throughout the pagoda. Be sure to follow them to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment.
- Bring water and snacks:
There may not be many food or drink options available at Bich Dong Pagoda. To stay hydrated and energized during your visit, it is a good idea to bring your own water and snacks.
- Be prepared for stairs:
Bich Dong Pagoda is situated on a hill, so be prepared for stairs and steep paths. Wear comfortable shoes and take breaks if needed.
- Respect the temple and its inhabitants:
Remember that Bich Dong Pagoda is a place of worship, so be respectful of the temple and its inhabitants. Avoid touching or disturbing any of the religious artifacts or statues.
Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh is truly a remarkable destination that offers a unique and enchanting experience for visitors to Ninh Binh. Its stunning natural beauty, combined with its rich cultural and historical significance, makes it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the area. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Bich Dong Pagoda has something for everyone. So don’t hesitate to add this gem to your travel itinerary and discover the enchanting beauty of Bich Dong Pagoda for yourself.