Ngoc Son Temple: Serenity amid Bustling Hanoi, Vietnam

If you’re seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is the ideal destination. Situated right in the center of this serene lake is Ngoc Son Temple, a prominent temple located on a small island. The sacred temple, along with other architectural structures, forms a historical complex that has been the pride of Hanoians for hundreds of years.

Location: Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8:00 – 18:00 from Monday to Sunday
Entrance fee:
– 30,000 VND per adult
– 15,000 VND per student (student ID must be provided)
– Free for children under 15

I. Legend of Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple is an unmissable Hanoi tourist attraction (Source Collected)
Ngoc Son Temple is an unmissable Hanoi tourist attraction (Source Collected)

Ngoc Son Temple, also known as Jade Mountain Temple, was constructed in the 19th century to commemorate Tran Hung Dao, the renowned military commander of the Tran Dynasty. Tran Hung Dao’s military prowess led the Vietnamese Army to numerous victories over the Yuan Dynasty during the 13th century. Additionally, the temple pays homage to Van Xuong De Quan, the God of prosperity in ancient Chinese culture and Taoist philosophy.

Originally named “Ngoc Son Pagoda,” the attraction was later renamed “Ngoc Son Temple” to align with Vietnamese cultural practices. In Vietnamese culture, pagodas are associated with Buddhist practices, while temples are dedicated to the worship of historical figures.

Ngoc Son Temple underwent extensive renovation in 1865 under the supervision of Nguyen Van Sieu, a prominent scholar of the Nguyen Dynasty. During this period, additional structures such as The Huc Bridge (Light of Dawn Bridge), Tran Ba Dinh (Tidal Wave Defense Pavilion), But Thap (Pen Tower), and Dai Nghien (Ink Slab) were constructed. Together, these structures form a remarkable complex of relics that reflect the spiritual life of Hanoi, a city with a history spanning over a thousand years.

II. Highlights of Ngoc Son Temple- Unique Features

It’s certainly fitting to describe Ngoc Son Temple and its surrounding artifacts as the architectural phenomenon of Hanoi. Each component of the complex carries its own unique charm and significance, and when brought together, they form a harmonious architectural ensemble. To fully appreciate the exceptional beauty of the site, it’s recommended to begin your journey by crossing The Huc Bridge, a picturesque structure that leads you across the tranquil waters of Hoan Kiem Lake. From there, you can proceed through a collection of structures, including Tran Ba Dinh (Tidal Wave Defense Pavilion), But Thap (Pen Tower), and Dai Nghien (Ink Slab), each contributing to the overall ambiance and historical richness of the site. Finally, your journey culminates with a visit to Ngoc Son Temple itself, where you can immerse yourself in the spiritual and cultural heritage of this remarkable place.

1. The Pen Tower and The Ink Slab

Right before stepping onto The Huc Bridge, you’ll be enchanted by The Pen Tower and The Ink Slab, two impressive stone features contributed by Nguyen Van Sieu.

The Tower, resembling a pen with its nib pointing skyward, sits atop a rock pile symbolizing the earth. Its significance is encapsulated in the three words “Ta Thanh Thien” (Writing on the blue sky), which are carved on a stone slab nearby.

Since ancient times, our ancestors have harbored grand dreams that could only be expressed by inscribing upon the sky. Yet, none of these aspirations seem unattainable when we have a solid foundation to stand upon.

2. The Huc Bridge, Dac Nguyet Lau and Tran Ba Dinh

Vietnam tour packages often feature a visit to Ngoc Son Temple, located on an island accessed by crossing The Huc Bridge. This wooden bridge stands out with its vibrant red color and modern Buddhist architecture, reflecting sunlight and symbolizing hope, luck, and happiness for the city’s residents.

After crossing The Huc Bridge, visitors arrive at Dac Nguyet Lau (Moon Gazing Pavilion), the entrance to Ngoc Son Temple. On the left side of the gate, a turtle is engraved, symbolizing longevity and sustainability, while a dragon on the other side represents strength and power.

Continuing the journey, travelers reach Tran Ba Dinh (Tidal Wave Defense Pavilion), known for its intricate design. Beyond its role in protecting against natural disasters, the pavilion serves as a reminder to preserve cultural identity amidst foreign influences—a valuable lesson derived from the struggles for independence.

3. Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple Hanoi is an architectural masterpiece (Source Collected)
Ngoc Son Temple Hanoi is an architectural masterpiece (Source Collected)

From Tran Ba Dinh, take a left turn, and you’ll arrive at Ngoc Son Temple, the final destination of your walking trip. Ngoc Son Temple is divided into two main sections, with the interior dedicated to the worship of Tran Hung Dao and Van Xuong De Quan. The statue of Tran Hung Dao is positioned on a 1-meter-long pedestal, depicting the esteemed commander alongside his courtiers. In contrast, the statue of Van Xuong De Quan portrays a serene philosopher who has attained extensive knowledge of humanity.

The third statue you’ll encounter is of Amitabha, a revered figure in Mahayana Buddhism. These three sculptures signify the diverse religious beliefs in Vietnam. For many years, they have peacefully coexisted, contributing to the unity and prosperity of the nation.

III. What to Do around Ngoc Son Temple?

If you’re planning a trip to Ngoc Son Temple, it presents an excellent opportunity to explore other attractions in the surrounding area of Hanoi. Many of these places are just a few minutes’ walk away and offer an authentic sense of the city.

1. Hoan Kiem Walking Street

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi - What to See & Do
Hoan Kiem Walking Street ( Source Collected)

Established in 2016 as part of Hanoi’s tourism development program, Hoan Kiem Walking Street offers a vibrant experience for visitors. Every week, from 7 p.m. on Friday to 12 a.m. on Sunday, all kinds of vehicles are prohibited from the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake, creating a pedestrian-friendly environment.

There’s an array of activities to enjoy on Hoan Kiem Walking Street. From watching street performances by talented artists to participating in various traditional games and savoring local delicacies offered by street vendors, there’s something for everyone.

The allure of Hoan Kiem Walking Street is evident to both locals and expatriates alike. It provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Vietnamese culture and unwind from the stresses of daily life.

Location: 16 routes surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake
Opening hours: 7:00 p.m. Friday to 12:00 a.m. Sunday (vehicles not allowed access)

2. Ly Thai To Garden

Just about 1 kilometer from Ngoc Son Temple, Ly Thai To Garden will capture your attention with its remarkable 10-meter bronze statue of King Ly Thai To. As the first emperor of the Ly Dynasty, he was responsible for moving the capital from Ninh Binh (then known as Hoa Lu ancient citadel) to Ha Noi (then known as Dai La) and renaming the land as ‘Thang Long Citadel’.

Under the rule of King Ly Thai To and his descendants, Thang Long Citadel flourished as a land of prosperity and became a political and cultural center. These characteristics have been ingrained in the minds of every Hanoian, representing a source of pride passed down through generations.

You can visit Ly Thai To Garden at any time of the day as the area is always bustling with people. From youngsters dressed in modern attire practicing hip hop to elders joyfully dancing to tunes from the 80s, the park attracts a diverse range of visitors. Despite their differences, they all share a deep affection for the charming city of Hanoi. Once again, Hanoi reveals itself as a city of diverse yet harmonious cultures.

Location: Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

3. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE
THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE

Water puppetry is a unique traditional art of Vietnam that has existed since the 11th century. Originating from the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam, it was initially a form of entertainment for farmers during the flooding season. When the rice fields became submerged, puppeteers would stand in waist-deep water and use bamboo rods hidden underwater to control wooden puppets.

Evening Cyclo Tour with Water Puppet Show

Arts Performing 0.5 Day Tour

Hanoi – Hoan Kiem Lake – Hanoi Opera House – Red River – Hanoi

Includes:
– Transfers
– Meals
– Entry ticket
– Tour guide
– + 1 more

Start from:US$93/person

Water Puppetry

Water puppetry is a unique traditional art of Vietnam that has existed since the 11th century. Originating from the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam, it was initially a form of entertainment for farmers during the flooding season. When the rice fields became submerged, puppeteers would stand in waist-deep water and use bamboo rods hidden underwater to control wooden puppets.

Nowadays, artists perform behind a bamboo mat, manipulating their puppets to portray Vietnamese legends or daily activities. There is never a dull moment during a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The fusion of colors, music, and the domestic atmosphere leaves audiences with everlasting memories.

Location: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening hours:15:00 – 20:00 from Monday to Sunday (5 shows per day)

Phone:
– 024 3824 9494
– 024 3825 5450

Website:[Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre](http://thanglongwaterpuppet.org/en/)

IV. Tips for Visiting Ngoc Son Temple

Getting to the Temple: It is quite easy to get to Ngoc Son Temple as most vehicles are allowed to travel in the area of Hoan Kiem Lake. If you are using personal vehicles, parking areas are available just around the corner. Taking a walk is also recommended if you want to discover interesting spots in the surrounding area.

Entrance Fee Collection: The entrance fee is collected at Dac Nguyet Lau (Moon Gazing Pavilion), after you cross The Huc Bridge. Remember to bring cash because credit cards are not accepted.

Be Respectful in Worshipping Areas: Obey the rules when you enter sanctuary areas:

  • Avoid wearing tank-tops or short skirts
  • Take off your hats and footwear
  • Don’t talk or laugh too loudly

Hanoi is a burgeoning city driven by growth and innovation. At the same time, it is a city with traditions nurtured and passed down for generations. If you want to understand the cultural and aesthetic values that have shaped Hanoi, Ngoc Son Temple would be one of the best options.

To ensure the best vacation experience in Vietnam, it’s important to plan and book in advance. Among the many travel companies providing services in Vietnam, Vietnam Discovery Travel is an excellent choice for arranging your trip with just a few emails and WhatsApp messages. They offer airport transfers, accommodation bookings, tour guides, drivers, and customizable activities based on your preferences.

With their support, you can tailor your trip to match your desired schedule and interests, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable travel experience throughout Vietnam.