Dau Pagoda, located in Thuan Thanh district, Bac Ninh province, is considered the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Vietnam according to researchers. The pagoda is about 1 hour away from Hanoi Old Quarter, making it easy for a morning trip off the city noise.
In the past, the region where Dau Pagoda was built today was the capital of Giao Chi district, the political, economic and cultural center of Vietnam. About 1,800 years ago, the Indian monk named Khau Da La came to this area to do the missionary work and founded the first Buddhism center in Vietnam called Luy Lau. There were many pagodas, citadels and market built in the area at that time and Dau Pagoda was among them.
As Dau Pagoda was the biggest pagoda in the Buddhist center region, many monks from either India or China came there to do research and spread Buddhism to the local residents.
This ancient pagoda has undergone many restorations and expansion, with the largest construction undertaken under the Ly and Tran dynasty. Going through the fluctuation of history, although many structures in the region were destroyed, the pagoda still exists and preserves the traditional oriental architecture style especially the wood block aged about 1752 years old and two bronzes' Xa Loi bodies of Vu Khac Minh and Vu Khac Truong monk.
The yard in front of the pagoda hosts a three stories tower name Hoa Phong. The tower originally had six stories but it was partly destroyed. Inside the tower, there are a number of valuable artifacts such as a large bell dating back in Canh Thinh Dynasty (1793), a big bronze gong casted in Ming Mang Dynasty (1817) and several statues of Gods in Buddhist legends.
Since its inception, Dau Pagoda has hosted the annual Dau Pagoda Festival on April 8th in lunar calendar. This is also the biggest Buddhism festival of the northern region of Vietnam. In 2012, the festival will fall on April 28th.
The oriental architecture style and the antiques at the pagoda will absolutely impress any visitor. Moreover, it is also a great chance for those who want to discover and experience the traditional culture of Vietnam, and a must visit for Buddhists.
The best way to get to Chua Dau is to rent a car with a driver, who already knows the way and will take care of parking issues. You can also ride a motorbike, by following highway 5 and turning to Highway 1B. Chua Dau is about 35km from Hanoi downtown.