Built on a single pillar and rising out of a square-shaped lotus pond, the One Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot) is said to resemble a lotus flower. Originally built in the 11th century, the pagoda has been rebuilt over the years, most recently in 1955 after it was destroyed by the French, and remains one of Hanoi’s most iconic pagodas. The Basics
The One Pillar Pagoda is a popular Hanoi attraction, and many sightseeing tours include a stop here, along with the nearby Ho Chi Minh Complex, the Temple of Literature, or Hoan Kiem Lake. Explore the small pagoda’s unique architecture; made of wood and standing on a single stone pillar, it has a system of curved bars supporting the floor and a curved roof. Inside is an ornate shrine with a statue of Quan Am (Guanyin), the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, seated on a lotus.
Opt to explore Hanoi like a local on a motorbike tour that includes the pagoda, and consider add-ons like a water-puppet show or a cooking class. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The One Pillar Pagoda is a must-see for first-time visitors to Hanoi.
- It’s free to enter the pagoda though donations are accepted.
- Visitors should cover their shoulders and knees and remove their shoes to enter the pagoda.
- Although the area around the pagoda is wheelchair-accessible, the pagoda itself can only be accessed by a set of stairs.
The One Pillar Pagoda is located near the Ho Chi Minh Complex in the Ba Dinh District. The easiest way to reach it is by taxi. A number of buses also stop at nearby Le Hong Phong Road, including buses 9, 22, and 34. When to Get There
The One Pillar Pagoda is open daily, year-round. It’s a popular attraction and can get very busy, so visit early in the morning to beat the crowds. For the best photos, visit in the early morning or around sunset.
Legend Behind the One Pillar Pagoda
Legend has it that aging Emperor Ly Thai prayed to Buddha for a son. He dreamt one night that he was visited by Quan Am, seated on a lotus flower in a square-shaped lotus pond, and she handed him a baby boy. When the Emperor finally had a son, he ordered the pagoda to be built to resemble what he saw in his dream, in honor of Quan Am.