Dau Pagoda in Bac Ninh: The Oldest Pagoda in Vietnam

Recognized as the oldest pagoda in Vietnam, Dau Pagoda in Bac Ninh has become a must-see spiritual tourist destination for any visitors to the country. The article below, which provides some information about this oldest pagoda in Vietnam, will be useful to visitors on their next trip.

General Information

Dau Pagoda is located in Thanh Khuong commune, Thuan Thanh, a suburb of Bac Ninh province. This territory is characterized by calm and lyrical countryside. The pagoda is located in the heart of Bac Ninh’s cultural and historical area, known as the ancient Giao Chi district, thousands of years ago. History has proven that this place was once the economic, cultural, and political center, as well as the cradle of the development of Buddhism. This is why Dau Pagoda attracts more and more tourists.

Located near Hanoi and enjoying a convenient transportation system, it is very easy to access this destination. Among them, the two most used methods are:

  • By bus: You can take bus line 204 from Hanoi to Bac Ninh City. After getting off the bus station, continue walking 400 meters to arrive at Dau Pagoda.
  • By car: From the center of Bac Ninh, you pass by the Bo Son viaduct, go straight along Road 38, arrive at the intersection Kinh Duong Vuong – Lac Long Quan, turn left towards Lac Long Quan, and drive about 10 kilometers to Dau Pagoda. You can also use the car rental service with a private driver offered by IDC Travel for a better experience.

History of Dau Pagoda

A long time ago, the location where Dau Pagoda now stands served as the capital of the Giao Chi district, holding significant political, economic, and cultural importance in Vietnam. Approximately 1,800 years back, an Indian monk named Khau Da La arrived in this area to carry out missionary work and established the country’s first Buddhist center called Luy Lau. During that period, numerous pagodas, citadels, and markets were constructed, and Dau Pagoda was one of them. Being the largest pagoda in the Buddhist center region, it attracted monks from both India and China, who came to research and spread Buddhism to the local people.

Throughout its long history, this ancient pagoda has undergone various restorations and expansions, with the most extensive construction efforts taking place under the Ly and Tran dynasties. Despite the challenges presented by the course of history, many structures in the region were destroyed, but Dau Pagoda still stands tall, preserving its traditional oriental architectural style. Notably, the pagoda proudly houses a remarkable woodblock dating back around 1,752 years, along with two bronze Xa Loi bodies of the revered monks Vu Khac Minh and Vu Khac Truong, serving as precious artifacts from the past.

An aerial view of Dau Pagoda

An aerial view of Dau Pagoda

Impressive Architecture of Dau Pagoda

Dau Pagoda, like many other pagodas in Vietnam, boasts traditional Oriental architecture. Its layout comprises four rows of interconnected houses, forming a rectangular shape, enclosing three main halls: the front hall, middle hall, and upper hall. While the old back hall is no longer present, traces of the 40 small apartments, arranged in two rows, can still be observed.

Hoa Phong Tower in Dau Pagoda, Bac Ninh

Hoa Phong Tower

In the expansive front yard, the Hoa Phong tower stands tall, constructed using large bricks baked at high temperatures, resulting in glazed terra-cotta. Though six layers of the tower have been damaged, the remaining three layers from its base remain steadfast. The pagoda houses its most ancient artifact, dating back to the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400), and it underwent its initial restoration in 1313 during the reign of King Tran Anh Tong.

Special Features of Dau Pagoda

Being the Oldest Pagoda in Vietnam

Built in BC and still standing, Dau Pagoda is known as the oldest pagoda in Vietnam. Besides the ancient architecture, the pagoda is also the crystallization of the architectural quintessence of the Ly and Tran dynasties. Over time, the pagoda has lost many things, but it has retained its inherent magnificence. That is why the pagoda is still a place that many people choose to visit.

Having the Most Buddha Statues in Vietnam

Buddha Statues in the pagoda

Buddha Statues in the Pagoda

Dubbed the location of the oldest Buddha statues in Vietnam, the statues at Dau Pagoda are meticulously crafted and carved. You can admire a set of Buddha statues left by the ancients at that time, particularly the statue of Mrs. Dau, the statue of the protector of Dharma, the 8 Diamonds, and many other statues of Arhat.

Hosting the Oldest Festival in Vietnam

Considered the ancestor of the Buddhist Association of Vietnam, Dau Pagoda holds large-scale festivals every year that bring together many Buddhists, young and old, all over the country. The pagoda sets the 8th day of the 4th lunar month as the landmark for the festival, while the ceremony at the beginning of the year has become an indispensable cultural feature of the Vietnamese people. The area around Dau Pagoda has 12 villages working together to create a festival steeped in Bac Ninh identity. Currently, instead of closing the festival on one day as before, the duration has been extended. The Dau Pagoda Festival takes place on April 8 and 9, but April 8 remains the main festival.

The festival offers many rich activities and entertainment for those who are not Buddhists. The most important is still the procession of the statue of Phap Van, also known as the statue of Ba Dau, Phap Loi, Phap Vu, etc. The purpose of the association is to pray for peace and good weather to help the people stabilize and prosper, thus attracting thousands of tourists to Dau Pagoda.

Important Notes when Visiting Dau Pagoda

  • Do not wear too colorful and shocking costumes so as not to lose the solemnity inherent in the pagoda.
  • Do not arbitrarily touch or take objects in the pagoda without permission from the pagoda officials.
  • Do not step on trees, flowers, tables, and chairs in the pagoda. Put the garbage in the right place to avoid polluting the environment.
  • Ask the authorities in advance for permission before filming or taking photos.

>>> Visit Dau Pagoda and other tourist destinations in Bac Ninh with our full-day tour from Hanoi.

Dau Pagoda has a long history, but it keeps intact religious values ​​and beliefs imbued with national identity. It is not only the pride of Bac Ninh province, the cradle of Vietnamese Buddhism but also an invaluable heritage of the whole country. Contact us now so you don’t miss the opportunity to visit Dau Pagoda and many other unique places.

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Alice Pham

Hello, I'm Alice Pham - a travel blogger at IDC Travel. I have traveled to almost places in Vietnam and gained numerous useful experiences. I'm here willing to help you plan the most wonderful trip to our stunning S-shaped country.

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