One Pillar Pagoda

Perhaps the most iconic pagoda in Hanoi, this structure stands above a pond in an area of serene parkland.

Take in the impressive and unique sight of the One Pillar Pagoda, held aloft over a small lake by a single stone column. Visit the ornate shrine inside or simply relax in the tranquil park below lush trees.

The pagoda was originally constructed by emperor Ly Thai Tong who ruled between 1028 and 1054. Despite being destroyed by the French when they evacuated the city, the pagoda was considered such an iconic monument that it was completely rebuilt in 1955.

As you walk toward the pagoda, notice that it is made almost entirely from wood. It is thought that many of the original materials were used in the restoration process, meaning that parts of this construction date back nearly 10 centuries.

Stroll around the edge of the lily pond and admire the unusual appearance of the pagoda. Its wide, flowing roof is designed to resemble a lotus flower rising out of the water below.

Make your way to the far end of the pond where you will find a stone staircase that leads to the interior of the pagoda. This is a single, tiny room, dominated by a small altar that holds a sparkling gold statue of the Buddhist deity Quan Am. The local people will tell you that couples who pray here will be blessed with marriage and fertility. Look for the gifts of fragrant flowers and fresh fruit scattered around the foot of the deity.

Head outside into the sun and take a seat at one of the benches positioned around the garden of pretty flowers. Directly behind the pagoda notice a large bodhi Tree. This was a gift from India in 1958. It is believed to be an offshoot of the tree where Buddha became enlightened.

Find One Pillar Pagoda in the park behind Ong Ich Kiem Street in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi. The pagoda is open all week during the summer but closed on Mondays and Fridays in the winter. Admission is free.