Tran Quoc Pagoda - The Most Ancient Buddhist Pagoda In Hanoi

Duc - October 25, 2018

Being one of the most spiritual pagoda in Vietnam, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a renowned attraction for its deep cultural and Buddhist values. Coming to Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Hanoi (over 1500 years old), you will enjoy a delightful and antiquated picturesqueness in the center of the crowed and fast-pacing city.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - on the list of top architectural pagoda in the world Tran Quoc Pagoda - on the list of top architectural pagoda in the world

Don't miss your valuable chance to understand more about the belief and Buddhism practice of Hanoi people.


  • Tran Quoc Pagoda Opening hours: Everyday, from 8 am to 4 pm, the pagoda Tran Quoc opens for Buddhist monks and tourists to sightsee and thurify.
  • Tran Quoc Pagoda Entrance Fee:  You can go to this pagoda for free.
  • Location: Tran Quoc pagoda first foundation was on the bank of Red River, the crucial and main waterway of the capital. After that, people relocated the pagoda to islet of Ho Tay (West Lake Hanoi).

  • Transportation: 
    • Tran Quoc Pagoda is on Thanh Nien Street, in the North of Hoan Kiem Lake, between West Lake and Truc Bach Lake.
    • So, you can easily visit the pagoda by bus, taxi or motorcycle.
    • By bus, you can catch bus 50 to be right in front of the pagoda. Or, you get on bus 31, 41, 55A, 55B, 58, stop at An Duong bus stop and take a walk for 5 minutes to get there.
    • It's only 3.6 km from Old Quarter, so it takes about 12 minutes to be there by taxi or scooter.

Tran Quoc Pagoda Dress Code

As visiting holy sanctuary place, visitors must follow strictly fixed dress code.

In detail, NO hat, shorts, mini skirt or tank-top are allowed.

Deep cultural and Buddhist values inside Tran Quoc Pagoda

Local custom

Visiting the pagoda, you can follow the traditional and usual routine of burning incense and offerings small amount of foods or money

  • Food or small changes are like small present for the gods for their bequest of luck
  • Burning incense, in some ways, will navigate the ways for the gods on the other-side world through the smoke to hear your wishes and make them come true.

In Vietnamese, and Chinese culture, incense are often burned in odds number with the most frequent of 3 sticks, for the belief that odds numbers will bring luck.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi Where to go Arsenal football players prayed at Tran Quoc Pagoda

"Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the most spiritual pagoda in Hanoi.", as locals usually say. Therefore, many tourists from other countries also come here to pray.

You get what you wish for as long as you live in a good way, be nice to everyone around you.

You can visit Tran Quoc Pagoda and pray anytime. Nevertheless, you may wanna avoid crowded time, the 1st  and 15th day of each month in Lunar calendar. On these days, people pray for happiness. look for peaceful mind after stressful days.

Cultural reference and value

Tran Quoc Pagoda is the center and representative of Buddhism in Hanoi and Vietnam in general.

The worshipping of female Buddhas, known as “the Mothers” who takes care of the Vietnamese life, stands for the respect and morality of the Vietnamese.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi's oldest pagoda

Why Tran Quoc Pagoda got its name?

Tran Quoc Pagoda (or Chua Tran Quoc) in Hanoi is the oldest Buddhist pagoda with the age of more than 1500 years old. During Ly Nam De times (541-547), the King demanded to build this construction. This is also a pagoda attached to the first state of Vietnam throughout history - the State of Van Xuan.

Tran Quoc Pagoda entrance Tran Quoc Pagoda entrance

Its name changed through the course of time:

  • Initially named Khai Quoc Pagoda (Founding the Country) in the 6th century.
  • Renamed to An Quoc Pagoda (Pacifying the Country) in the 15th
  • Lastly renamed to Tran Quoc Pagoda (Protecting the Country) in 17th

The adjust in the name of this pagoda illustrates the wish of the people attached to this antiquated holy sanctuary.

First-class attraction, Buddhist center of Thang Long - Hanoi 

In the past, Tran Quoc Pagoda was Buddhist center of Thang Long Imperial city during Ly - Tran dynasty (11th - 14th century)

Tran Quoc Pagoda Hanoi before Tran Quoc Pagoda Hanoi before

Besides, the pagoda was well-known as first-class attraction. King and mandarins usually came here to do sightseeing, take an imperial carriage, worship on special occasions such as: Tet holiday, festivals... Especially, people built many constructions here like: Ham Nguyen Palace, Thuy Hoa Palace... It served for unwind and relaxed time of the King.

One of the most architectural pagoda in the world (according to Thrillist)

3 main houses in Tran Quoc Pagoda. Why is number 3?

Tran Quoc Pagoda consists of 3 main houses and a tower with dominant red color. Number 3 in Vietnamese belief represents for luck and prosperity. With the harmonic arrangement of the lush green watery landscape besides, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a renowned picturesqueness.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi Where to go Tran Quoc Pagoda - a representative Buddhist architecture in Vietnam

The arrangement of 3 houses with different chamber strictly follow Buddhism norm. This is the reason that parts of the pagoda connected to form the Gong (工) radical.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi Where to go Tran Quoc Pagoda from above

  • Tiền Đường (the Front House) faces the West, with the sides are isle and behind is the bell tower. In front of Tien Duong, there is an incense burner in the middle of red-tiled yard so that Buddhists and tourists can thurify.
  • Nhà Tổ (the Ancestor House), worshipping the previous generation of chief monks, is on the right of Tiền Đường
  • Nhà Bia (The Steles House), holding 14 important steles, is on the left of Tiền Đường. These steles were engraved from 1813 to 1815, recording Pham Quy Thich's composition. It explains the renovating process of the pagoda Tran Quoc after a long time in ruin.

What makes Tran Quoc Pagoda architecture outstanding?

  • Bảo Tháp Lục Độ Đài Sen is an eleven-storey,15-meters height tower. Each floor has 6 arched windows with a statue of Amitabha made from gemstone lied inside. The top of the tower is Cửu phẩm liên hoa, a nine-storey lotus made from gemstone, is symmetric to the Bodhi tree. 

Bao Thap in Tran Quoc Pagoda Hanoi

      Bao Thap in Tran Quoc Pagoda Hanoi

  • Opposite to Bảo Tháp, there is a Bodhi tree, what we mentioned above. This nearly 50-year-old tree was a gift from Indian President on a special occasion when he visited the pagoda on March 24th, 1959. 

Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi Where to go

The harmonic architecture of 3 main houses with high tower in red, surrounded by jaded watery

For deeper understanding, lotus represents the Buddhist value of enduring clarity. Why?

We can notice that lotus bloom from dirty mud, yet never get uncleaned. Bodhi tree meanwhile is the symbol of boundless intellect and mind. This insightful juxtaposition of lotus and Bodhi tree has a deep Buddhism reference.

In addition to symbolize for supreme perception of Buddha, the bodhi tree also represents for compassionate, altruistic and selfless heart of human.

Bodhi tree in Tran Quoc pagoda Hanoi Bodhi tree in Tran Quoc pagoda Hanoi

For these reasons above, Thrillist appraises Tran Quoc Pagoda as the most ancient pagoda in Hanoi. Unique architecture resembles to a blooming lotus making people imagine to Buddha's lotus-shaped lamp support.

We can say, Tran Quoc pagoda is a harmonious combination of ancient, imposing architecture with serene ambience of green garden and far-flung lake. That's why Ministry of Culture and Information recognized Tran Quoc Pagoda as national monument in cultural and historical values in 1962.

Where is the most beautiful Nirvana statue in Vietnam?

Besides, coming to Tran Quoc pagoda, you shouldn't miss a chance to see many Buddhist and Bodhisattva statues. These are high-valued artistic statues like a set of worshippng statues in "Thuong dien" and copper-casting... Artisans made these statues sophisticatedly and minutely, which brings a religious and mysterious significance.

However, the biggest highlight is the statue "Phật Thích Ca nhập Niết bàn" - Sakyamuni enter Nirvana, made from wood, painted with gold-coated vermilion. This is the most beautiful Nirvana statue in Vietnam

If you like discovering quintessential beauty of ancient architecture and find out religious culture, don't forget visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda to have an impressive and memorable trip in Hanoi.