During your Hanoi travel journey, besides enjoying exquisite Vietnamese traditional food, visiting But Thap Pagoda should be one of the top activities on your bucket list. As one of the most beautiful ancient Buddhist landmarks in Vietnam, the unique architecture of this pagoda always makes a great impression on tourists’ minds. This article will provide you some interesting information about this Buddhist monument in Bac Ninh province.
1. Where is But Thap Pagoda? How to get there from Hanoi?
- Location: But Thap Hamlet, Dinh To Commune, Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh Province
- Opening hours: 7.00 am – 6.00 pm every day
Situated near the dyke of Duong River, Bac Ninh province, But Thap Pagoda can be easily reached from the capital city of Hanoi. The distance from the center of Hanoi to Bac Ninh is more than 30 kilometers. There are numerous means of transportation that tourists can choose from to move to this ancient pagoda, such as car, motobike, and bike.
It will take you approximately 1 hour on average to travel to But Thap Pagoda by car or motorbike if the streets are slightly crowded. Going by bike is also a viable option if you want to combine sightseeing with exercising to improve your health.
2. An overview of the history of But Thap Pagoda
Until now, there are no records of when But Thap Pagoda was constructed, Chances are this well-known relic site was built in the 13th century, under King Tran Thanh Tong’s reign.
The pagoda has been refurbished and renovated numerous times over the years. The most extensive refurbishment occurred at the beginning of the 17th century, during the Le – Trinh period. The abbot of the pagoda – Zen master Chuyet Chuyet and his disciple Minh Hanh renovated the entire pagoda, with a huge contribution of money and land from Queen Dieu Vien, Princess Le Thi Ngoc Duyen, and Princess Trinh Thi Ngoc Co. They were all worshiped and their statues were placed in But Thap pagoda until today.
When King Tu Duc visited this pagoda in 1876, he called Bao Nghiem Tower a giant pen pointing straight to the sky. He named it “But Thap” (Pen Tower in English), hence the name of the pagoda today.
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3. What are the highlights of But Thap Pagoda in Bac Ninh?
But Thap Pagoda serves as a historical and spiritual destination for both pilgrims and visitors. The pagoda has stood for centuries despite the destruction from war, nature, and human hands. It still retains the traditional design and sacred atmosphere.
3.1. The unique architecture
But Thap Pagoda is an extraordinary structure that has been restored many times throughout the reigns of several dynasties. The pagoda faces the south, which is the direction of knowledge in Buddhist philosophy. It was constructed in accordance with the “Noi Cong Ngoai Quoc” architectural style, which includes two long corridors that connect the main chamber to the ancestral house.
The main section of But Thap Pagoda, located between two corridors, consists of 7 rows of houses running in parallel, with a total length of more than 100 meters. When you enter the pagoda, you will see various meticulous wooden and stone carvings, along with some figures acting as the pagoda’s guardians.
3.2. The 4 national treasures
Aside from its historical and architectural significance, But Thap Pagoda is home to four national treasures, including the statue of the thousand-hand and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara, which was designated a national treasure in 2012. In 2020, the sculptures of Buddhas, the nine-storey lotus tower, and the altar earned the same recognition. Each national treasure has its own distinct value, but the Avalokitesvara statue is the most special. This 3.7-meter-high and 2.1-meter-wide statue has 46 large arms and over 900 small hands. It is considered a sculptural masterpiece. Moreover, But Thap Pagoda has approximately 100 wooden figures in various postures, as well as more than 50 stone sculptures portraying animals and plants.
3.3. Bao Nghiem Tower
Another notable feature of the pagoda is Bao Nghiem Tower. It is a huge stone stupa shaped like a large pen pointing straight up to the sky and housing a relic of the Zen master Chuyet Chuyet. The tower stands 13 meters tall, with five floors and a roof built of bluestone. At the five corners of each floor are five small bells, and the tower is decorated with sophisticated and unique patterns. This masterpiece shows the talent of Vietnamese craftsmen in stone grafting and sculpture art.
4. When is the festival of But Thap Pagoda?
But Thap Pagoda festival takes place every year on the 23rd and 24th of the third lunar month, with many traditional cultural activities. The festival includes 2 parts, which are the rituals and the outdoor activities. This festival not only attracts domestic visitors but also foreign tourists.
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5. Important notes for your visit to But Thap Pagoda
Before visiting But Thap Pagoda, pay attention to the following:
- Mind your personal belongings and valuables, especially when participating in But Thap Pagoda festival.
- Pay close attention to the special set of guidelines and religious convictions pertaining to the Vietnamese ritual of worship
- Dress politely (no shorts, mini skirts, or tank tops)
- Do not bring food or drinks into the pagoda
- Only take pictures or film with permission
- Do not smoke
- Burn only one incense stick per visitor
But Thap Pagoda is unquestionably a must-visit destination in Bac Ninh. During your trip, you can also visit many tourist attractions in Hanoi, such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi Old Quarter, Hanoi Opera House, Presidential Palace, Tran Quoc Pagoda, and other Buddhist temples Vietnam.
Besides But Thap Pagoda, you should also visit VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium, which are both located in Vincom Mega Mall Times City and widely regarded as the most appealing attractions in the city for young families and teenagers.
At Vinpearl Aquarium, you can immerse in a colorful world of the mysterious ocean. This place has set numerous records and is now home to almost 30,000 sea creatures. Meanwhile, VinKE is an ideal place for children to try their dream jobs while having fun with their parents.
>>> Book tickets of VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium to have an interesting and memorable experience with your whole family!
In addition to Hanoi, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long are among top renowned tourist destinations of Vietnam. There, it is highly recommended that travelers enjoy a luxurious stay at the system of Vinpearl hotels and resorts. You will have an opportunity to experience world-class accommodation and all sorts of amenities, such as outdoor swimming pools, children’s playgrounds, babysitting services, restaurants, bars, gyms, and so on.
But Thap Pagoda is a must-visit attraction near Hanoi, Vietnam because of its extraordinary architecture. Visitors to the pagoda have an opportunity to escape from the bustling daily life and immerse in the serene spiritual atmosphere. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, make sure to include this location in your itinerary!