Hanoi’s One Pillar Pagoda

HANOI, Vietnam — Despite it being a replica of what was once a thousand-year-old pagoda, the One Pillar Pagoda is today considered one of Vietnam’s most iconic Buddhist temples.

Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Branches 327-0535413038

The One Pillar Pagoda is almost a thousand years old. Sort of. In another in a long line of despicably pointless destructive acts committed by colonial military forces, the French destroyed the nearly 1000-year-old pagoda in 1954 on their way out. The Vietnamese government subsequently rebuilt it.

The version that’s there now sits above a large lily pond (or small lake, depending on which way you look at it), tucked just behind the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi.

The top is dark, carved wood shaped to resemble a lotus flower. The single pillar base it balances on was once also wood, but in the modern version, it’s rather ugly bare concrete. Concrete might be more practical, but I can’t help wondering whether a tin of dark brown paint was really that hard to find–it is, after all, named after the pillar.

Despite it being a replica, the One Pillar Pagoda is today considered one of Vietnam’s most iconic Buddhist temples.

Photos of the One Pillar Pagoda

Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Temple 327-0522453001
HANOI, Vietnam – The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Shrine 327-0521552997
HANOI, Vietnam – A small shrone sits in a gnarled old tree next to the One Pillar Pagoda. The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Steps 327-0518482984
HANOI, Vietnam – The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Statue with Temple 327-0537423046
HANOI, Vietnam – The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Lion Statue 327-0536313042
HANOI, Vietnam – A marble lion statue at the One Pillar Pagoda. The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Statue 327-0521432994
HANOI, Vietnam – A small tribute shrine sits in a gnarled old tree next to the One Pillar Pagoda. The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda 327-0518042980x
HANOI, Vietnam – The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Shrine and Tourists 327-0543373055
HANOI, Vietnam – Tourists walk the short flight of stairs to the historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sitting in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda Lillies 327-0520062987
HANOI, Vietnam – at the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.
Leaves Silhouette
HANOI, Vietnam – Green leaves and dark branches are silhouetted against a white cloudy sky.
Hanoi One Pillar Pagoda with Pond 327-0518272982
HANOI, Vietnam – The historic, small One Pillar Pagoda sits in the center of a small pond near the Ho Chi Minh Museum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and dates back to the 11th century.

What to Know Before You Go

The One Pillar Pagoda is close to the Botanical Garden and West Lake.

About the One Pillar Pagoda

  • The One Pillar Pagoda is situated in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
  • The pagoda was originally constructed in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong.
  • It was built to express gratitude for the birth of the emperor’s son and heir, after a dream in which the goddess Avalokitesvara presented him with a lotus flower.
  • The One Pillar Pagoda is designed to resemble a lotus flower emerging from the water, symbolizing purity and enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition.
  • The pagoda stands on a single stone pillar, which is approximately 4 meters (13 feet) high and 1.25 meters (4 feet) in diameter.
  • The current structure is a rebuilt version of the original pagoda, which was destroyed during the French colonial period in 1954.
  • One Pillar Pagoda is a small wooden structure, measuring about 3 meters (10 feet) in height and 3 meters (10 feet) in width.
  • The pagoda houses a statue of the goddess Avalokitesvara, also known as Guanyin, which is made of reinforced concrete and covered with gold leaf.
  • One Pillar Pagoda is an important symbol of Vietnamese history and culture, and it has been featured on various national stamps and currency.
  • The pagoda attracts a large number of visitors, both local and international, and it is considered one of the most iconic landmarks in Hanoi.

One Pillar Pagoda FAQs

Where is the One Pillar Pagoda located?

The One Pillar Pagoda is located in the Ba Dinh District of Hanoi, Vietnam, near the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex.

What are the opening hours of the One Pillar Pagoda?

The One Pillar Pagoda is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Is there an entrance fee for the One Pillar Pagoda?

No, there is no entrance fee to visit the One Pillar Pagoda.

How tall is the One Pillar Pagoda?

The One Pillar Pagoda is approximately 13 feet (4 meters) tall.

What is the significance of the One Pillar Pagoda?

The One Pillar Pagoda is an iconic symbol of Hanoi, representing Vietnam’s thousand-year history. The original version was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong in 1049 to resemble a lotus flower, symbolizing purity and enlightenment in Buddhism.

Is the One Pillar Pagoda wheelchair accessible?

The One Pillar Pagoda itself is not wheelchair accessible due to its elevated structure and steps leading up to it. But the park around it is accessible and offers close views of the pagoda.

Reading Recommendations

If you’d like to dive deeper with some reading before your trip or during, here’s an excellent list of books of various genres related to Hanoi put together by Vietnamese novelist and poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.

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David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »