Quan Thanh Temple: Worshiping the god guarding the north of Thang Long citadel

Quan Thanh Temple, also known as the Five Towers Temple, is an ancient Taoist temple located on Thanh Niên Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam. Situated on the shores of West Lake, the temple is a significant cultural and historical landmark in the city.

Where is Quan Thanh Temple?

Quan Thanh Temple is located on Thanh Niên Road in Ba Dinh District, which is a district in the urban centre of Hanoi, Vietnam. Specifically, the temple sits on the southeastern shore of West Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Hanoi.

The temple is approximately 5 kilometres away from Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter in downtown Hanoi. Its proximity to the centre of the capital city makes Quan Thanh Temple an accessible and popular site for both tourists and locals.

Introducing Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple
Quan Thanh Temple

History of Quan Thanh Temple

The origins of Quan Thanh Temple date back to the 11th century, during the reign of King Ly Thai To, who established it as a Buddhist temple named Trấn Bắc Đài. The temple’s purpose was to protect the northern gate of the imperial city of Thăng Long, which is now modern-day Hanoi.

In the 13th century, during the reign of King Tran Thai Tong,”,”completion”:” temple was renovated and converted into a Taoist temple. It was dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vu, the God of the North, who is believed to protect the city from harm. The temple’s name was also changed to Quan Thanh Temple, meaning The Temple of Tran Vu.

Photo: Urbanistnetwork
Photo: Urbanistnetwork

Throughout history, Quan Thanh Temple has undergone several renovations and restorations, preserving its architectural and cultural value.

Major restoration works were undertaken during the Le dynasty in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1893, under the French occupation, the temple was renovated according to Sino-French architecture with curved roofs.

Its most recent large-scale restoration was completed in 1993. Today, the temple stands as a testament to Hanoi’s rich history and remains a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The Architecture of Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple is a beautiful example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, showcasing a harmonious blend of Taoist and Buddhist elements.

The temple complex consists of several structures, including the main hall, the bell tower, and the distinctive Five Towers.

The Main Hall

Main Hall - Quan Thanh Temple
Main Hall – Quan Thanh Temple

The main hall, also known as the Hall of Tran Vu, is the central part of the temple. It houses the bronze statue of Tran Vu, the God of the North. The statue depicts Tran Vu standing on a tortoise, holding a sword in his right hand and a snake in his left hand.

The main hall features towering pillars made of precious woods and an intricately carved roof decorated with dragons and phoenixes. Vibrant red lacquered walls and regal dragon carvings across the temple complex also showcase traditional imperial Vietnamese architecture.

The Bell Tower

Bell Tower - Quan Thanh Temple
Bell Tower – Quan Thanh Temple

The bell tower is located to the left of the main hall. The present bell tower was constructed during the 19th century. It is made of wood and features intricate carvings.

The tower houses a large bronze bell which is used for religious ceremonies and to mark the passing of hours. At over 2000kg, it is one of the largest temple bells in Vietnam.

The Five Towers

Five Towers - Quan Thanh Temple
Five Towers – Quan Thanh Temple

The most distinctive feature of Quan Thanh Temple is the Five Towers, located at the back of the main hall. These towers are arranged in a pentagonal formation and represent the five elements of Taoism: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

The five towers include the Qian Tower which represents metal, the Kun Tower which represents earth, the Gen Tower which represents mountain, the Xun Tower which represents wind, and the Li Tower which represents fire.

Each 8-meter tall tower has its unique decorations and traits connected to its respective element. For example, the Xun Tower features carvings of the mythical qilin creature and the Li Tower is bright red in colour to represent fire.

The five towers are an iconic and unique landmark of Quan Thanh Temple. Backed by beautiful West Lake views, the towers provide a serene and peaceful ambiance within the temple complex.

Tower Element Represented Unique Traits
Qian Tower Metal Bronze roof decorations
Kun Tower Earth Green and brown colours
Gen Tower Mountain Granite-based structure
Xun Tower Wind Qilin creature carvings
Li Tower Fire Bright red colour

Opening Hours and Entrance Fees to Quan Thanh Temple

Inside lobby - Quan Thanh Temple
Inside lobby – Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple opens daily from 7.30am to 5.00pm. During festivals and public holidays, the temple’s opening hours are extended to accommodate increased visitor numbers.

There is no entrance fee to visit the temple grounds and main hall. However, there is a small fee of 10,000 VND (approximately USD 0.50) to enter into the Five Towers area.

As a functioning religious site, visitors should dress respectfully – clothes covering shoulders and knees, no footwear inside the main hall. Photography is allowed in Quan Thanh Temple but flash and tripods are prohibited inside the main hall and Five Towers zone.

Quan Thanh Temple can easily become crowded, especially on weekends, lunar new year period, and during the Perfume Pagoda festival season. Early morning and late afternoon are good times to visit the temple to avoid large tourist groups.

Attractions Near Quan Thanh Temple

West Lake Hanoi

West Lake Hanoi
West Lake Hanoi

Quan Thanh Temple sits on the southeastern shores of the magnificent West Lake Hanoi. At over 500 hectares, West Lake is the largest freshwater lake within Hanoi city limits. Attractions around West Lake include tranquil gardens, pagodas, historic monuments, and luxury hotels.

Visitors can hire pedal boats on West Lake, enjoy waterfront dining, visit neighbouring Tran Quoc Pagoda, or simply relax while taking in the scenic views of nature blended with Hanoi’s cityscapes.

Trúc Bạch Lake

Trúc Bạch Lake
Trúc Bạch Lake

Located northwest of Quan Thanh Temple is the smaller Trúc Bạch Lake. Connected via a narrow canal to West Lake, Trúc Bạch Lake emanates a peaceful, countryside vibe despite being encircled by the bustling city.

Visitors can walk or cycle around Trúc Bạch Lake and visit 18th-century Quan Âm Pagoda located on a small island in the middle of the lake.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda

Founded in the 6th century, Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. Located on a small peninsula on West Lake, it is around 1.5km from Quan Thanh Temple.

Tran Quoc Pagoda features traditional Vietnamese architecture with scenic West Lake views. Its history museum documents 1500 years of Buddhist history in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Around 1km from Quan Thanh Temple lies the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – the famous resting place of Vietnam’s most beloved leader.

Set within peaceful Ba Dinh Square, visitors can visit Ho Chi Minh’s preserved body inside the imposing grey granite mausoleum modeled after Lenin’s tomb in Moscow.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Ho Chi Minh Museum
Ho Chi Minh Museum

Next to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex sits the Ho Chi Minh Museum. This modern museum showcases sentimental memorabilia from Ho Chi Minh’s life from his simple homewares to political documents.

It provides understanding into the Vietnamese leader affectionately known as Uncle Ho, his role in Vietnam’s independence movement, and communist ideologies.


Boasting over nine centuries of history blended with captivating architecture, Quan Thanh Temple stands as one of the most culturally significant attractions in Vietnam’s bustling capital of Hanoi.

As one of the Four Sacred Temples dedicated to the guardian Gods of Thang Long – Hanoi, locals frequently visit Quan Thanh Temple to pray for blessings and luck from the God of the North, Tran Vu.

Meanwhile, intrigued tourists flock to admire the temple’s imperial-style Chinese influenced architecture, especially the iconic Five Towers backed by West Lake’s tranquil waters.

Whether you have spiritual or historical interests, visit Quan Thanh Temple to discover why this historic and lively gem has endured within the hearts of Hanoi residents for generations.

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