Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh: A Striking Religious Landmark in a Sacred Land

Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Ninh Binh, Bich Dong Pagoda stands as a testament to Vietnam’s rich spiritual and cultural heritage. This pagoda, often dubbed the “Second Most Beautiful Cave in Vietnam,” offers a serene escape for visitors seeking tranquility and a connection to the past. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about visiting Bich Dong Pagoda, including its location, historical significance, notable attractions, and practical tips for your trip.

Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh: A Striking Religious Landmark in a Sacred Land
Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh: A Striking Religious Landmark in a Sacred Land- (Source: Collected)

1. Where is Bich Dong Pagoda? How to Get There?

Bich Dong Pagoda is located in Ninh Hai commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province, about 100 kilometers south of Hanoi. This scenic spot is part of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ninh Binh- tour packages- (Source: Collected)
Ninh Binh- tour packages- (Source: Collected)

To get to Bich Dong Pagoda from Hanoi, you have several transportation options:

  • By Bus: Regular buses run from Hanoi to Ninh Binh city, taking approximately 2-3 hours. From Ninh Binh, you can take a taxi or a local bus to Tam Coc, and from there, it’s a short ride to Bich Dong Pagoda.
  • By Train: Trains from Hanoi to Ninh Binh are another comfortable option. The journey takes around 2-3 hours, and once in Ninh Binh, you can use local transportation to reach the pagoda.
  • By Motorbike or Car: For more flexibility, you can rent a motorbike or hire a private car. The drive from Hanoi to Bich Dong Pagoda takes about 2-2.5 hours and offers scenic views of the countryside.

2. Learn About the Long History of Bich Dong Pagoda

Long History of Bich Dong Pagoda- (Source: Collected)
Long History of Bich Dong Pagoda- (Source: Collected)

Bich Dong Pagoda, which translates to “Jade Grotto Pagoda,” was constructed in 1428 during the reign of King Le Thai To. The pagoda complex consists of three separate pagodas built into the mountainside: Ha Pagoda (Lower Pagoda), Trung Pagoda (Middle Pagoda), and Thuong Pagoda (Upper Pagoda).

The history of Bich Dong Pagoda is deeply intertwined with the history of Buddhism in Vietnam. The site was chosen for its natural beauty and spiritual significance. Monks have used the caves and pagodas for meditation and worship for centuries, making it a place of profound religious importance.

3. Top 5 Notable Attractions of Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh

3.1. Lower Pagoda (Ha Pagoda)

The journey to Bich Dong Pagoda begins at Ha Pagoda, the first of the three pagodas. This pagoda is located at the foot of the mountain and is easily accessible by a short climb. Ha Pagoda is renowned for its traditional Vietnamese architecture, featuring curved roofs and intricately carved wooden details. Visitors can admire the statues of Buddha and the peaceful ambiance that surrounds this sacred place.

3.2. Middle Pagoda (Trung Pagoda)

A short but steep climb up a stone staircase leads you to Trung Pagoda, situated halfway up the mountain. This pagoda is built into a large cave, creating a unique and mystical atmosphere. The cave’s interior is adorned with ancient statues and altars, where locals and pilgrims come to pray and make offerings. The view from Trung Pagoda offers a stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside and rice paddies.

3.3. Upper Pagoda (Thuong Pagoda)

For the adventurous, the climb to Thuong Pagoda, located at the top of the mountain, is well worth the effort. This pagoda is the smallest but most serene of the three, offering a peaceful retreat from the world below. The trek to Thuong Pagoda takes you through lush greenery and offers breathtaking views of the karst landscape. The sense of tranquility and the spiritual atmosphere at the summit make it a truly rewarding experience.

3.4. Dark Cave Bich Dong

Beyond the pagodas, Bich Dong also features Dark Cave (Hang Toi), a natural cave system that adds to the site’s allure. The entrance to Dark Cave is located near Trung Pagoda, and visitors can explore its dark, winding passages. The cave is home to a variety of stalactites and stalagmites, creating a mysterious and awe-inspiring environment. It’s advisable to bring a flashlight if you plan to venture deep into the cave.

Dark Cave Bich Dong- (Source: Collected)
Dark Cave Bich Dong- (Source: Collected)

3.5. Xuyen Thuy Cave

Another fascinating cave within the Bich Dong complex is Xuyen Thuy Cave, which translates to “Water Piercing Cave.” This cave is unique as it has a river running through it. Visitors can take a small boat ride to explore the cave, gliding through its cool, dark waters and marveling at the natural rock formations. The boat ride through Xuyen Thuy Cave is a tranquil experience, offering a different perspective of the pagoda complex.

4. Bich Dong Pagoda Opening Hours and Entrance Fee

Bich Dong Pagoda is open daily to visitors from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The entrance to the pagoda complex is free of charge, but donations are welcome and appreciated to help with the maintenance and preservation of the site.

5. Extra Tips for Your Visit to Bich Dong Pagoda Vietnam

To make the most of your visit to Bich Dong Pagoda, consider the following tips:

  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: The climb to the pagodas involves navigating stone steps and uneven paths, so comfortable footwear is essential.
  • Dress Modestly: As Bich Dong Pagoda is a religious site, it’s respectful to dress modestly. Avoid wearing shorts or revealing clothing.
  • Bring Water and Snacks: There are limited facilities at the pagoda, so it’s a good idea to bring water and snacks, especially if you plan to spend a few hours exploring.
  • Visit Early or Late: To avoid crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience, try to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
  • Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of the local customs and traditions. Show respect by maintaining a quiet and reverent demeanor while visiting the pagodas.
  • Take Your Time: The beauty of Bich Dong Pagoda lies in its serene environment and historical significance. Take your time to explore each pagoda and cave, and soak in the spiritual ambiance.

6. Recommended Attractions in Ninh Binh

After exploring Bich Dong Pagoda, Ninh Binh has many more incredible destinations that are well worth a visit. Here are some must-see places and experiences that will make your trip to Ninh Binh unforgettable: Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Cuc Phuong National Park, Van Long Nature Reserve, Bai Dinh Pagoda and Thung Nham Bird Garden


Bich Dong Pagoda is a gem in the heart of Ninh Binh, offering visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the spiritual richness of Vietnam’s past. Whether you’re drawn by the stunning architecture, the serene natural surroundings, or the sense of peace that pervades the site, Bich Dong Pagoda is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit carefully, and you’ll be rewarded with a profound and enriching experience in this sacred land.