One of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, and the oldest in Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda was built in during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De (AD 541–547) and moved to its present location in 1615. Located on an islet within West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda offers beautiful architecture, historic relics and artifacts, and a serene and scenic environment.
The most recognizable part of the pagoda is the main stupa, which stands 49-feet (15-meters) tall and features 11 levels and gemstone statues of Amitabha within each vaulted window. At the very top is a 9-story lotus made from gemstone. Surrounding the stupa are an array of statues, ancient steles, incense-burning houses, a Buddhist shrine, and a museum housing historical relics, some dating back over a thousand years. Don’t miss the gold sculpture of the Shakyamuni Buddha's Parinirvana.
Tran Quoc Pagoda is very popular and features on many sightseeing tours of Hanoi, which typically also include other top attractions like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, and the Temple of Literature. If you want to experience Hanoi like a local, take a bicycle or motorbike tour around the city. It’s also possible to combine sightseeing with a cyclo ride, food tasting, or water puppet show.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is an active place of worship, so visitors should be respectful of worshippers.
- Visitors must wear modest clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.
- It’s free to enter the pagoda, but donations are encouraged.
How to Get There
Tran Quoc Pagoda is located near the eastern shore of West Lake. It’s connected to Thanh Nien Road by a small causeway. From the center of Hanoi, it’s about a 20-minute taxi ride to get to the eastern shore of West Lake. Or you can take bus 14.
When to Get There
Tran Quoc Pagoda is open daily, with a break for lunch, so time your visit accordingly. For the most striking photos, visit around sunset. The pagoda will be at its most festive, and most packed, during Tet (Vietnamese New Year) and Buddha’s birthday.
In 1950, when Indian Prime Minister Razendia Prasat visited Vietnam, he visited Tran Quoc Pagoda and presented a bodhi tree as a gift. The tree was grafted from the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, where Gautama Buddha was said to have sat in meditation and achieved enlightenment. The bodhi tree sits in the courtyard of Tran Quoc Pagoda and can be recognized by its heart-shaped leaves.