Once a guesthouse for visiting ambassadors from nearby Buddhist countries, Ambassador’s Pagoda (Chua Quan Su) today is an active temple and the official center of Buddhism in Hanoi. Home to only a dozen or so Buddhist monks and nuns, this small but impressive pagoda is a haven of peace and quiet in otherwise hectic Hanoi.
The pagoda features a beautiful gilded main hall, with a few smaller shrines around it. Note the impressive altars and ornate woodwork; the images of the past, present, and future incarnations of Buddha; and the many wax figures of former monks. The grounds are well-kept. There’s also a small shop on-site that sells Buddhist books, prayer beads, and charms. Run by the monks, proceeds go towards upkeep of the temple.
To travel to the pagoda like a local, opt for a motorbike tour that combines it with other sights like the Temple of Literature, the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, and Dong Xuan Market. The pagoda is close to Hoa Lo Prison, which makes it an easy pairing for sightseeing.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Ambassador’s Pagoda is a must-visit for those with an interest in Buddhism.
- This is an active place of worship, so visitors should be respectful of worshippers.
- Visitors must cover their shoulders and knees to enter.
- It’s free to enter the pagoda, but donations are accepted.
How to Get There
The Ambassador’s Pagoda is located just west of the French Quarter. From the Old Quarter, it’s about a 15-minute walk. A taxi is the easiest way to get there from elsewhere in Hanoi.
When to Get There
The Ambassador’s Pagoda is open daily, with a break for lunch. To see it at its most festive, visit during Buddhist holidays or Tet (Vietnamese New Year’s). Most visitors spend less than an hour at the pagoda.
History of Ambassador’s Pagoda
During the Le Dynasty, a guesthouse for visiting ambassadors was built. A pagoda was then added so that visitors could worship as well. The guesthouse burned down, but the pagoda survived, though it has since been renovated and restored. The front of the pagoda is dedicated to Buddha, while the rear is dedicated to Master Minh Khong of the Ly Dynasty, who was said to have saved King Ly Than Tong on his deathbed.