Ngoc Son Temple: A Serene Oasis in the Heart of Hanoi

Nestled on a small island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple is a hidden gem located right in the bustling heart of Hanoi. This historic and culturally significant temple provides a peaceful respite from the frenetic energy of Vietnam’s capital city. With its distinctive red bridge connecting it to the shore, the temple is one of Hanoi’s most iconic sites.

Ngoc Son Temple Location

Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake

Ngoc Son Temple is located on Jade Island in the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. The lake itself lies just to the west of Hanoi’s Old Quarter area.

The temple can be reached by crossing the iconic Huc Bridge (“Rising Sun Bridge”), a bright red wooden bridge that connects the island to the shore. The bridge was constructed in the 18th century.

The exact address of Ngoc Son Temple is Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam.

It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk to Ngoc Son Temple from Hoan Kiem Lake metro station. The area is very central and can be accessed from hotels in any part of Hanoi’s city centre.

Ngoc Son Temple Entrance Fee

The entrance fee to visit Ngoc Son Temple is 30,000 VND per person (approximately $1.30 USD).

  • Tickets can be purchased at the entrance gate to the temple.
  • No prior booking is required.
  • The ticket grants access to all areas within the temple grounds.

There are no additional charges inside. The entrance fee is very affordable, making the temple accessible for visitors on any budget.

Some key points about the Ngoc Son Temple entrance fee:

  • It is free for children under 15 years old (must show ID).
  • The fee is the same for both foreign tourists and Vietnamese nationals.
  • The ticket can be used only once for a single entry.
  • The 30,000 VND covers all areas, including the gates, the Huc bridge, altars, pavilions etc.

The revenue from entrance fees helps with the maintenance and preservation of the historic site. Overall, Ngoc Son Temple offers very good value for money.

Introducing Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple history
Ngoc Son Temple history

Ngoc Son Temple is a historic Buddhist temple complex nestled on Jade Island in the heart of Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake.

It honours the 13th century military leader Trần Hưng Đạo, who famously repelled Mongol invaders. Alongside the nearby Turtle Tower, it is a revered cultural relic that symbolises Vietnam’s independence and freedom.

The temple was established in the 18th century, though the structures have been restored and rebuilt several times over the centuries. It is dedicated to three Vietnamese folk heroes – the aforementioned Trần Hưng Đạo, General Nguyễn Trung Ngạn and scholar Van Xuân.

Ngoc Son Temple night
Ngoc Son Temple night

Visiting Ngoc Son Temple offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s long and complex past. In addition to its historical significance, its picturesque island setting provides a serene retreat from Hanoi’s bustling streets.

With its scarlet-painted wooden bridge connecting to the shore, the temple is arguably the most iconic and photographed sight in Vietnam’s capital.

Ngoc Son Temple comprises various structures and gates that make up a peaceful oasis in central Hanoi. Each element has its own unique architecture and history.

Nghi Mon Gate

This is the first entrance gate visitors encounter when crossing over the iconic Huc Bridge to the island.

  • Nghi Mon Gate features carved Chinese characters that translate to “Ask for help from the heavens”.
  • It has a traditional Vietnamese style curved tiled roof with Chinese and Vietnamese motifs.
  • The gate was reconstructed in the 1800s after being destroyed in the late 1700s.

Nghi Mon welcomes visitors to the tranquil temple grounds and represents the journey from the temporal world into a spiritual realm.

Long Mon Ho Bang Gate

Long Mon Ho Bang Gate
Long Mon Ho Bang Gate

After passing through Nghi Mon, visitors next reach the Long Mon Ho Bang Gate.

  • This entrance pavilion is an ornate wooden structure with a tiled roof.
  • It is adorned with intricate carvings of two dragons flanking a stone tablet.
  • The gate honours Emperor Gia Long, who founded the Nguyen dynasty in 1802.

The gate’s architecture seamlessly blends imperial Chinese and vernacular Vietnamese influences.

Dai Nghien Gate

Dai Nghien Gate
Dai Nghien Gate

Continuing along the path, visitors encounter Đại Nghện Gate, the main entrance to Ngoc Son Temple itself.

  • Dai Nghien Gate features imposing stone steps leading up to the temple entrance.
  • The heavy timber structure is elaborately carved with phoenixes, flowers and Chinese characters.
  • Its sweeping tiled roof caps the gate, built in the distinctive carved and interlocked Vietnamese style.

Dai Nghien Gate makes a grand statement, setting the tone for the temple’s religious significance.

The Huc Bridge

The Huc Bridge
The Huc Bridge

No discussion of Ngoc Son Temple architecture is complete without mentioning the iconic The Huc Bridge.

  • The Huc Bridge connects Jade Island to the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • This arched wooden bridge is painted a vivid red colour.
  • It is constructed in the unique Vietnamese “beamless” style without nails.
  • Intricate carvings of Buddhist symbols like clouds, dragons and flowers adorn the bridge.

The Huc Bridge is arguably Vietnam’s most photographed landmark, framing postcard views of Ngoc Son Temple.

Dac Nguyet Lau Gate

Dac Nguyet Lau Gate
Dac Nguyet Lau Gate

At the far end of the temple complex is the Đắc Nguyệt Lâu Gate.

  • This two-storey pavilion stands on columns above the water.
  • Đắc Nguyệt Lâu translates to “Achieving the Moon Pavilion”.
  • Its architecture incorporates elements of both Vietnamese and Chinese style pagodas.

Đắc Nguyệt Lâu makes a striking sight, appearing to float over the calm waters of the lake.

Thap Rua Tower

Thap Rua Tower
Thap Rua Tower

Next to Đắc Nguyệt Lâu lies the iconic Thap Rua, or Turtle Tower.

  • Thap Rua is a two-tiered tower situated on a small island.
  • Built in the 18th century, it has a traditional Vietnamese style multi-eaved roof.
  • While not officially part of Ngoc Son Temple, it complements the architecture beautifully.

Thap Rua Tower is an iconic sight, often photographed alongside the Huc Bridge and temple.

Tran Ba Pavilion

The penultimate structure is the Tran Ba Pavilion, situated in front of the main temple building.

  • Tran Ba Pavilion is an open-air structure with a tiered tiled roof.
  • Its columns are engraved with intricate dragon and cloud motif carvings.
  • This pavilion houses a large bronze bell used for religious ceremonies.

Tran Ba Pavilion provides shade for visitors approaching the main temple for worship and reflection.

The Main Area of the Temple

Finally, the heart of the complex is the main temple building itself.

  • The temple is a low-rise structured topped with sweeping tiled roofs.
  • Inside are altars dedicated to the three heroic figures worshipped here.
  • Intricate carvings, lacquered columns and silk parasols adorn the interiors.

This is the spiritual centre of Ngoc Son Temple where devotees can pray and make offerings.

The diverse architecture across the complex blends imperial Chinese influenced and local Vietnamese styles. Ngoc Son Temple is a treasure trove for lovers of Asian architectural heritage.

Attractions Near Ngoc Son Temple

Attractions Near Ngoc Son Temple
Attractions Near Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple enjoys an enviable location right in Hanoi’s bustling heart, surrounded by plenty of attractions. Here are some landmarks near the temple:

Hoan Kiem Lake

  • The temple sits on Jade Island located right in picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • Visitors can stroll around the shore and cross the iconic red Huc Bridge to the temple.
  • Early mornings see locals practicing tai chi on the shores.

St Joseph’s Cathedral

  • The imposing neo-Gothic St Joseph’s Cathedral is just 850m south of the temple.
  • Built by the French colonial rulers in 1886, it’s still an active place of worship.
  • Its striking architecture contrasts with the Chinese-influenced temple.

Hanoi Old Quarter

  • Just north of Hoan Kiem Lake lies the maze-like Old Quarter known for shopping.
  • The area still retains much of its old-world charm such as narrow shophouses.
  • Don’t miss the lively Dong Xuan Market in the Old Quarter.

Hoa Lo Prison

  • Hoa Lo Prison, about 600m north of the temple, is now a museum showcasing Vietnam’s colonial history.
  • The French colonial rulers built it in 1896 to jail political prisoners.
  • American POWs nicknamed it the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War.

Vietnamese Women’s Museum

  • Vietnamese Women’s Museum: Dedicated to the role of women in Vietnamese history and culture.
  • Exhibits include village life, fashion, marriage rituals, mother goddesses, wartime heroes etc.
  • Just 1km east of Ngoc Son Temple.

There is no shortage of fascinating sites to visit around the temple showcasing Hanoi’s unique history and character.


In summary, Ngoc Son Temple is a historic jewel located right in the heart of lively Hanoi. Its storied past, striking architecture, and serene island setting make it a must-see for any visitor to Vietnam’s capital.

The diverse structures exemplify how Vietnamese and Chinese styles blended through the temple’s centuries-long history. Both a beloved place of worship and a iconic landmark, the picturesque temple offers a perfect chance to experience Hanoi’s cultural essence.

Beyond the temple itself, the surrounding Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake area make this one of the most dynamic and tourist-friendly parts of the city. Ngoc Son Temple can easily be combined with several other fascinating attractions nearby.

So next time you’re in Hanoi, make sure to put the unique oasis of Ngoc Son Temple on your itinerary. Its rich history and beauty provide the quintessential Vietnamese experience.