Two weeks ago, my tennis club arranged a day trip to Ninh Binh to visit the Bai Dinh Pagoda. We'd heard that this new, unfinished structure will be the biggest pagoda in South East Asia. The new structure lies behind the old Bai Dinh Pagoda, a 7-minute walk away. The old pagoda is really interesting with a fantastic view from the top.
Covering an area of around 700 hectares, the exact location of the pagoda is Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province in front of the lake. The best locations for pagodas are near water and looking over the surrounding countryside, so the Bai Dinh complex is lucky in both respects. Even though it isn't finished yet, thousands of pilgrims are visiting, particularly as it's still early in the new year.Being among the first to visit a new pagoda is also something to be proud of too.
Hundreds of stone statues surround the pagoda in addition to four bronze huge ones, three weighing over 50 tons and one over 100 tons. Another feature is an enormous 36 ton bronze bell. They are all sculpted by Ninh Van, a local craftsman. Bai Dinh Pagoda is predicted to become one of the biggest centres for Buddhists in Vietnam.
Despite the crowds and the fact that the pagoda is unfinished, it was a really pleasant day in a special place in the fresh country air. I'm hoping to return when it's finished.