VIETNAM - Bai Dinh Pagoda in the northern province of Ninh Binh is famous for its great size and beautiful architecture, and also well-known for its record number of huge Buddha statues. Located in Gia Sinh commune, Gia Vien district, Bai Dinh pagoda was built to commemorate King Ly Thai To who moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long.
As a tourist attraction, Bai Dinh pagoda is endowed with both scenic beauty and historical value. It is considered the largest complex of Buddhist pagodas Vietnam, which are either old or new. The old Bai Dinh Pagoda sits on a 200m high mountain, which has been recognized as a cultural and historical heritage site of Vietnam. The new Bai Dinh Pagoda covers about 700 hectares, near the site of the old one. Tourists often visit the pagoda area during their sight-seeing tour.
Every year, the Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival kicks off on the sixth day of the first lunar month, attracting tens of thousands of visitors. On the way to the old pagoda site, pilgrims have to climb stone steps to small ancient places of worship to pray for good luck and enjoy traditional ceremonial singing performed by local artists. Through the gate into the new Bai Dinh Pagoda area, visitors will see 500 Arhat statues, each 2.4 m high and weighing about 4 tonnes, standing or sitting on both sides.
The Bai Dinh Pagoda complex boasts having the biggest bronze Buddha statue in Southeast Asia, about 100 tonnes in weight, and three 50-tonne Buddha statues and two huge bronze bells. From Bai Dinh, tourists can go by boat to the nearby Trang An tourist site in Hoa Lu district. Along with the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, Tam Coc-Bich Dong caves and Phat Diem stone church are all on the to-see list.