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Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of Jade Mountain) - Iconic Temple In The Middle Of Hoan Kiem Lake

Duc - October 26, 2018

Stepping into Hanoi, we can’t miss the chance to see a preserved specimen of a giant turtle, the one in the mysterious legend of Hoan Kiem Lake. Where can you see that turtle? Only in Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain)!

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple

Hoan Kiem lake and Ngoc Son temple is always in the heart of Hanoi, of Vietnamese people, in the most graceful and affectional way.

The temple is also a sacred place, where students can pray for the advantage in exams, studies.

A. Tourist information for Ngoc Son Temple

  • Map

Location: Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

  • Opening hours:

Monday – Friday: 7 a.m to 6 p.m

Saturday and Sunday: 7 a.m to 9 p.m

  • Price tickets:

Adults: 30.000 VND

Children: 15.000 VND

Phone number: 024 3935 1673

B. Local tips

  • Recommended time:

In the morning to observe more clearly

Or in the evening on weekend if you also want to enjoy the atmosphere on walking street

  • Dresscode:

There is no exact dresscode for this place, but please show you respect here.

In detail, please no short, or tank top...

Remember getting friendly and lucky calligrapher inside the temple (on the left as you enter) for a nominal fee.

Avoid taking many photos of the altar.

Bring along a small water bottle.

  • How to get there:

The distance between Old Quarter Hanoi and Ngoc Son temple is just 350 metres, so you can totally walk to there within 4 minutes.

C. Introduction of Ngoc Son Temple

C.1. History and worship

Before, when King Ly Thai To moved the capital to Thang Long, he named the temple as Ngọc Tường. During Tran Dynasty, it’s the place where worships fallen heroes in the struggle against Mongols. After a long time without renovation, the temple collapsed.

In the phase of 1735-1739, Trinh Giang commanded to build an imperial palace named Thụy Khánh on the ground of the old temple. But in the last years of Post-Le dynasty, King Le Chieu Thong demolished the palace.

Ngoc Son Temple - The past

Ngoc Son Temple in the past

On the cornerstone of the remnants, Tin Trai, a philanthropist, constructed Ngoc Son pagoda. A few years later, the pagoda was renamed  as Ngoc Son Temple because the place was only used to worship the scholar Van Xuong, one of the brightest stars in Viet Nam's literary and intellectual circles.

In 1865, the Confucian Nguyen Van Sieu took charge in refurbishing the temple.

Ngoc Son Temple in 19th century

Ngoc Son Temple in 19th century

After the temple was completed, there are altars dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a big hero of Vietnam in 13th century, who led Vietnamese people to win over Mongol invaders.

Also La To, patron saint of physicians…

The temple worships the Buddha, Lã Động Tân (Lü Dongbin), Quan Vân Trường (Guan Yu).

C.2. Architecture

To enter the temple, we will go over The Huc Bridge, a charming scarlet-painted wooden bridge of classical Vietnamese design.

The Huc Bridge

The Huc Bridge

Across the bridge, we will see Moon Gazing Pavillion (Đắc Nguyệt Lâu). This construction has 2 floors; the second floor has 2 roofs and 2 circular windows

Ngoc Son Temple - Dac Nguyet Lau

Dac Nguyet Lau

In the right side, there is a picture named Long Mã Hà Đồ, with the image of a dragon-headed horse. It’s related to the legend about Chinese King Phục Hy  created the overall labyrinthine battle array based on brushstrokes on the back of the horse.

In the left side, a picture named Thần Quy Lạc Thư is also related to the story Chinese King Đại Vũ patrolled on the Lạc river and saw a turtle.

Architecture of Ngoc Son temple shows us religional ensemble after many years existing. The main construction is 2 connecting temples, worshipping Tran Hung Dao and saint Van Xuong.

Tran Hung Dao statue is put onto 1-meter pedestal; there are 2 stone stairs on 2 sides. Tourists can take a photo with this statue.

Ngoc Son Temple - Tran Hung Dao statue

Tran Hung Dao statue

Van Xuong statue has refined manners and attitude but still majesty and august.

The square roof has 8 pillars holding up: 4 stone ones outside the temple and 4 wooden one inside. This unique combination increases solemn beauty but still attractive.  

Ngoc Son Temple - Temple Rooftop

Temple Rooftop

C.3. The giant turtle:

The turtle displaying inside Ngoc Son temple Hanoi is one of 4 giant softshell turtles having lived in Hoan Kiem lake. Locals affectionally used to call “Cu Rua”, which means “great grandfather turtle”.

The turtle in Ngoc Son temple

The turtle in Ngọc Sơn temple

The turtle is attached to the legend King Le Loi, who led Vietnamese people to fight back and expel Ming invaders from the national border.

According to legend, Lê Lợi had the sword named Heaven's Will given to him by the Golden Turtle God, Kim Qui. He used this sword in the battle against the aggressors.

Ngoc Son Temple - Story

Le Loi gives back the sword

Not long after Vietnam got independence, Lê Lợi was out boating on the lake. Suddenly the Golden Turtle God surfaced, prompting Lê Lợi to return Heaven's Will. The Golden Turtle God got back the sword and disappeared into depths of the lake. Lê Lợi then renamed the lake Hoàn Kiếm Lake, meaning “The Lake of the Returned Sword”.

C.4. Meaning:

Along with Pen Tower (Thap But), Ink Slab (Dai Nghien), Ngoc Son temple in Hanoi is cultural symbol for scholars, the pride of 1000-year-old Hanoi.

Ngoc Son temple Hanoi and Hoan Kiem lake became splendid evidence evoking the magnanimous history of nation, awaking the pride and patriotism of Vietnamese people.

D. Related tours

Ngoc Son Temple is a part of a tour including Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi Opera House, Dong Xuan Market.

This tour can help visitors enjoying the wonderful beauty of these places with the shortest way and most reasonable price.

Why don’t you get a local guide to help you the all the attractions here in Hanoi? Don’t hesitate to book a tour with Az Local Trip now.

E. Attraction nearby

Ngoc Son Temple - St. Joseph's Cathedral

The twin towers of the Cathedral

Location: 40 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple - Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House

Location: 01 Trang tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi