Adventures in East Asia

Hanoi, North Vietnam and the Tran Quoc Pagoda

One of our top places to visit in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay, and since it is situated in the north, we decided to take a four day guided tour there from Ho Chi Minh. We catch our (two hour) flights early in the morning to Hanoi, which is where the north's main airport lies and are collected by our tour guide and minibus.


The first thing we notice is that the climate is much milder than in the south and is more mid-twenties than Ho Chi Minh's mid-thirties. Our guide explains that whereas Ho Chi Minh is virtually the same all year round, Hanoi has four distinct climates marking seasons as we're used to in the UK.

Our journey from the airport to the centre of Hanoi takes around forty five minutes and our first stop is the Tran Quoc Pagoda which is located beside the West Lake, which we come to realise is sort of like a focal point in this city.


The Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest of all pagodas in Hanoi and is a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. Regardless of its age, obvious care and renovation keeps this building fresh and gleaming bright earthy colours, pretty much like Tay Ninh's Ba Den Pagoda.


To visit the pagoda and its surround halls, you take a short path out into West Lake where the grounds for the site exist. Coming from the heat of Saigon, this was a refreshing visit since a gentle breeze was included at no extra cost.


There's probably plenty of places online to find out more about the history of the pagoda, so I don't aim to include it here. However, the site does include what's known as a bodhi tree, which was offered as a gift by the Indian Prime Minister Razendia Prasat on his visit to Vietnam in 1959.


Apparently the tree was grafted from the holy bodhi tree where Sakyamuni sat in a meditation position twenty five centuries ago. Much larger now, it's said to give luck when you walk around it three times.

Hence we had to wait patiently to get our photo taken in front of the divine installation, as this group of tourists circle the base.


More photos online in the Tran Quoc Pagoda Flickr set.

This entry posted in : History. Tourism. Vietnam.

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