THAY & TAY PHUONG PAGODAS
These pagodas are about 20 minutes apart from each other by road, and cling to the sides of stunning limestone outcrops that emerge suddenly from the surrounding flat rice fields.
Thay Pagoda (The Master’s Pagoda admission 3000d), also known as Thien Phuc (Heavenly Blessing), is dedicated to Thich Ca Buddha (Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha) and 18 arhats appear on the central altar.
On the left is a statue of the 12th-century monk Tu Dao Hanh, the master after whom the pagoda is named; on the right is a statue of King Ly Nhan Tong, who is believed to have been a reincarnation of Tu Dao Hanh. In front of the pagoda is a small stage built on stills in the middle of a pond the water-puppet shows are staged here for festivals. Follow the path around the outside of the main pagoda building, and take a steep 10-minute climb up to a beautiful smaller pagoda perched high on the rock. Thay Pagoda is a big and confusing complex for non-Buddhists – you may want to hire a pagoda guide to get the most from a visit.
The pagoda’s annual festival is held from the fifth to the seventh days of the third lunar month. Pilgrims and other visitors enjoy watching water-puppet shows, hiking and exploring caves in the area.
Tay Phuong Pagoda (Pagoda of the West; admission 3000d), also known as Sung Phuc Pagoda, consists of three single-level structures built in descending order, on a hillock said to resemble a buffalo. The figures representing ‘the conditions of man’ are arrived from jackfruit wood, many dating from the 18th century, and are the pagoda’s most celebrated feature. The earliest construction here dats from the 8th century. Take the steep steps up to the main pagoda building, then find a path at the back that loops down past the other two pagodas and wanders through the hillside village that surrounds the complex. At the base, return to the car park a couple of hundred meters to your right.
Getting There & Away
The pagodas are about 30km southwest of Hanoi In Ha Tay provice. Hanoi’s cafes catering to budget travellers can arrange combined day tours of the Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas. Alternatively, you could hire a car and driver fro US$30, and make a good day tour combining the pagodas and Ba Vi National Park.