Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

7 Things To Do In The Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Welcome to Hoa Lu, a hidden gem located in the Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam. This small town was once the capital of the Dinh and Le dynasties and is now a top destination for tourists looking to immerse themselves in Vietnamese history and culture.

In this article, we’ll explore the captivating and historically-rich destination of Hoa Lu in Vietnam. Discover how to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of this historical site and prepare for an unforgettable experience at Hoa Lu!

Where Is Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

Hoa Lu is located in Northern Vietnam’s Ninh Binh Province, about 90 kilometers from Hanoi. The town of Hoa Lu was the capital of two successive dynasties, the Dinh and Le Dynasties, during the 10th and 11th centuries.

It is also known as “The Ancient Capital” due to its important historical significance.

Historical Significance Of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Ninh Binh

The Hoa Lu ancient capital was an important place in the history of Vietnam, not only as the capital city but also for its many political and cultural contributions. The town is surrounded by limestone mountains, which adds to the beauty and mystery of the area. It was the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties, from 968 to 1009 CE. 

The First Capital Under Dinh Dynasty

The first king of the Dinh dynasty, Dinh Tien Hoang, also known as Dinh Bo Linh, chose Hoa Lu as his capital in 968 CE after defeating the Chinese occupation. King Dinh Tien Hoang named the country as ‘Dai Co Viet’ at that time. He built many palaces, temples, and citadels in the area, and this ancient city remained the capital until 1010 CE, when the Ly dynasty moved the capital to Thang Long, now Hanoi. The dynasty of Emperor Dinh Bo Linh ruled the country for twelve years.

dinh bo linh
Dinh Bo Linh – The Buffalo Boy Who Became King

The Capital Again Under The Rule Of King Le Dai Hanh

During the Le dynasty, which succeeded the Dinh dynasty, Hoa Lu remained an important political and cultural center in Vietnam. The Le kings continued to build palaces and temples in the area, and many of the structures from the Dinh dynasty were also maintained.

The capital was moved back to Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh in 1428, but only for a brief period of time before it was moved back to Thang Long. This period is known for its promotion of Buddhism and for the beginning construction of many famous temples, such as the Bai Dinh Pagoda. Hoa Lu remained an important cultural center until the end of the Le dynasty in 1789.

Le Dai Hanh
Le Dai Hanh – Vietnamese emperor and the third ruler of Dai Viet kingdom, ruling from 981 to 1005

Importance Of The Hoa Lu Ancient Capital In Vietnamese Culture

The Dinh and Le dynasties were responsible for a number of influential reforms that shaped modern-day Vietnamese culture, such as codifying laws, establishing new government offices and departments, developing irrigation systems, encouraging trade between China and Japan, enacting land reform policies, and promoting Buddhism. 

During this period, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh, also served as a major center for Buddhist study and worship with various temples being constructed throughout the city. These temples remain to this day, offering visitors a glimpse into this fascinating era in Vietnamese history. The ancient capital’s structures and architecture are what make Hoa Lu so unique. Although much of the original city was destroyed over time, some structures still stand today.

Hoa Lu
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital // Photo by piscesdone _tcare

7 Best Things To Discover In Hoa Lu Ancient Captial

Hoa Lu ancient citadel has a rich history and many sights to explore. Visitors can discover the historical significance of these relic sites, take in the stunning landscapes, admire the traditional architecture, explore beautiful temples, and learn about the culture and customs of this region.

1. Admire The Temples Of Dinh And Le Kings

The Dinh temple was built in the 10th century to honor King Dinh Tien Hoang, the founder of the state of Dai Co Viet. This ancient temple is made up of three parts: the outer court, the middle court, and the inner sanctum. Dinh Tien Hoang temple is adorned with intricate carvings and beautiful artwork, showcasing the skill and artistry of the craftsmen of the time.

The Le temple was built in the 11th century to honor King Le Dai Hanh, the founder of the Le dynasty. The Le Dai Hanh temple is made up of several buildings and features beautiful gardens and a small lake. Visitors can explore the temple’s many halls and pavilions, each with its own unique design and history.

dinh tien hoang temple
Dinh Tien Hoang Temple // Photo by Le Bich

2. Wander Around The Bich Dong Pagoda

The town has many other historical, cultural landmarks, and nearby attractions that tourists can explore. One of the most notable attractions in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh is the Bich Dong Pagoda, located about 2 kilometers from the town. The pagoda was built in the 18th century and is located in a cave on a limestone mountain. Tourists can climb to the top of the mountain for an incredible view of the surrounding area.

bich dong pagoda - Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda

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3. Experience Tam Coc’s Natural Beauty

Another attraction is the Tam Coc, also known as the “Halong Bay on land”. The area is characterized by huge limestone cliffs that rise out of the surrounding green rice fields, creating a magnificent scene. You’ll be thrilled to breathtaking view of the spectacular mountains that loom above you as you ride down the Ngo Dong River.

Tam Coc’s natural beauty is not limited to the river; the surrounding area is as stunning. The area is rich in rice fields and fruit orchards, providing a lush green scenery that is both attractive and peaceful. Whether you want to relax and take in the scenery or explore the area’s secret caverns and grottoes, Tam Coc’s natural charm is apt to leave an impression on any visitor.

Let’s see how Sammy and Tommy enjoyed Tam Coc:

Incredible Day in Tam Coc, Vietnam – Must See Places In Ninh Binh // Video by Sammy and Tommy
tam coc ninh binh - Tam Coc
Tam Coc

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4. Immerse Yourself In Various Traditional And Cultural Festivals

Hoa Lu is home to some of Vietnam’s most treasured traditional festivals. Every year, the town comes alive with vibrant colors, lively music, and cheerful crowds for festivals such as Ba Chua Thuong Ngan Festival, which celebrates the goddess of prosperity; the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Festival, a celebration of the ancient capital’s rich history; and Phi Yen Festival, an annual gathering to honor an ancient hero.

These events are celebrated with parades, performances, and delicious local dishes – giving visitors an authentic glimpse into Vietnamese culture. Whether you’re looking for a unique cultural experience or simply want to join in on some fun festivities, there’s sure to be something special happening in Hoa Lu!

Love exploring history and culture? Why not explore some of Vietnam’s festivals with tips and pictures?

5. Cycle Around Hoa Lu’s Villages

Exploring Hoa Lu by bike is an excellent way to get off the beaten path and discover the hidden beauty of this ancient area. As you cycle along, you will pass through peaceful villages, rice paddies, and small temples that can only be seen by taking a leisurely ride around the countryside. Stop for lunch at one of the traditional restaurants in a village or take some time for yourself to appreciate the stunning nature around you.

Biking in Hoa Lu offers a unique opportunity to explore its history and culture from a local’s perspective, allowing visitors to gain insight into life beyond its well-known tourist sites. It’s no wonder biking is often touted as one of the most rewarding activities in Hoa Lu!

Sammy and Tommy: “We explored the area on bicycles and were able to roam around the back roads and soak in the beautiful landscape and views of daily life in rural Vietnam. We rode our bikes through the town of Tam Coc which offers many guesthouses, hostels, shops, and restaurants. The town is wrapped around a lake that holds hundreds of boats for the day trippers who arrive here on tour buses.”

ninh binh hiking
Cycling to Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh

6. Embark On Adventurous Hiking And Trekking

Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh is not just about exploring the rich history and natural beauty, but also a great destination for hiking and trekking enthusiasts. The area has a number of scenic trails and treks that offer an opportunity to explore the countryside and enjoy stunning views.

One popular trek is the Mua Cave trek, which takes you up a hill to a temple and an impressive viewpoint overlooking Tam Coc and the surrounding karst mountains. The trek is challenging but the views from the top make it worth the effort.

Let’s see how Flora and Note conquered Mua Cave:

mua cave ninh binh - Mua Cave
Mua Cave

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7. Journey To Bai Dinh Pagoda

For visitors looking for a spiritual journey, Bai Dinh Pagoda is an ideal destination. Located about 30 minutes away from Hoa Lu ancient capital, the pagoda is known for its large complex of temples and Buddha statues.

The main temple has 500 life-sized Arhat statues and one of the largest gilded bronze Sakyamuni Buddha statues in Asia. While there are many interesting cultural activities to explore within its grounds, the most impressive site is undoubtedly the giant bell tower in the center of its campus that stands nearly 10 stories high!

Visitors can also explore nearby Trang An grottoes and take part in other spiritual activities such as meditation or prayer sessions with monks. A visit to Bai Dinh Pagoda will surely be an unforgettable experience!

Recommend 1-day trips that visit Bai Dinh Pagoda: Ninh Binh 1 Day Tour – Discover Bai Dinh – Trang An – Mua Cave

Bai Dinh Pagoda - Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda

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Top Tips & FAQs For Visiting Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Ninh Binh

If you’re planning to visit Hoa Lu, a fascinating and historically-rich destination in Vietnam, there are a few tips and recommendations to keep in mind, in order to make the most of your experience and ensure that your trip is both enjoyable and stress-free.

With these useful tips, you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of this unique and captivating region.

The best time to visit Hoa Lu is from March to May or September to November when the weather is mild, and the scenery is at its most beautiful. The rainy season in Hoa Lu is from June to August, so it’s best to avoid those months if possible.

Getting to Hoa Lu district is relatively easy, and there are many options for travelers. The closest major city to Hoa Lu is Hanoi, and tourists can take a bus or train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, then take a taxi to Hoa Lu. There are also many exciting day tours available that will take visitors to all the top attractions in Hoa Lu ancient capital.

Want to spend a fulfilling day in Hoa Lu district and Ninh Binh? Check out these enjoyable 1-day trips!

First of all, plan your visit in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat, especially during the summer months. The temperatures in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh can get quite high, especially during the summer months, so it’s best to plan your visit during the cooler times of the day, such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Secondly, bring comfortable shoes and clothing because there will be a lot of walking and trekking. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and trekking during your trip to Hoa Lu ancient capital, so wear comfortable shoes and clothes that let you move freely. Breathable fabrics are also an excellent choice because the area may get quite hot and humid.

Then, as previously said, the weather in Hoa Lu can be rather hot and humid, so use sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin from the sun’s rays, and drink enough of water to remain hydrated.

Excited To Start Your Trip To Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh?

Hoa Lu ancient capital is a hidden gem that should not be missed by tourists visiting Vietnam. It gives visitors a tranquil and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, as well as a unique glimpse into the country’s rich history. Hoa Lu offers something for everyone, from the spectacular temples and pagodas to the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

A visit to Hoa Lu ancient capital is guaranteed to be a wonderful and rewarding experience with appropriate planning and a mind for adventure.

To truly experience Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh, book a Ninh Binh day trip with a carefully planned and fulfilling itinerary. With our tours and support, your fantastic Hoa Lu adventure awaits!

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