Updated: 13 Oct 2020


Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Gate

Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. It is located in Truong Yen Village, Hoa Lu Distruct, Ninh Binh Province. The area is 100 km far from the south of Hanoi. Together with Phat Diem Catheral, Tam Coc, Bai Dinh, Trang An and Cuc Phuong, Hoa Lus is an attractive tourist destination in Ninh Binh Province.  This place is famous with rice fields among Limestone Mountains. In order to have a deep understanding of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, we would like to give you some useful information as below.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Introduction

Location: Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. It’s located in Truong Yen commune, Hoa Lu district, NinhBinh Province, Vietnam. The area is approximately 90 km south of Hanoi. Together with Phat Diem Cathedral, Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Bai Dinh Temple, Trang An, and Cuc Phuong, Hoa Lu Imperial city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ninh Binh Province.

History: Hoa Lu is known as the first capital of Vietnam with a wide range of historical landmarks. In 968, King Dinh Bo Linh of Dai Co Viet (an old name of Vietnam) constructed his capital in Hoa Lu and ruled until the year 980. Afterwards, Hoa Lu also existed for almost 30 years of Early Le dynasty (980-1009) and 1 year of the Ly dynasty (1009-1010). In 1010, King Ly Thai To moved it to Thang Long (Ha Noi now) and since then, Hoa Lu became an ancient capital which maintained lots of ancient temples and relic sites of Vietnam.

The Royal Court was built in an area of 150 hectares in the eastern part of the capital while the western part served as a site to educate and protect children. The surroundings are quite picturesque, with ponds and limestone range forming a jagged horizon.

Nowadays, Hoa Lu ancient capital plays an important role in architectural and historical complex of Viet Nam. It was also recognized as one of the 4 cores forming of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Trang An Complex.

What to see in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital? King Ding Temple, King Le Temple, Ma Yen Mountain, Nhat Tru Pagoda.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is an attractive tourist destination in Ninh Binh. There are many international tourists or Vietnamese choose to visit. There are some famous places in this area.

King Dinh Temple ( For The King Dinh Tien Hoang)  & King Le Temple

King Temples in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

In 968, General Dinh Bo Linh reunified the whole country after defeating all 12 local lords and ascended the throne as King Dinh Tien Hoang, with the capital in Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh province). But he died in 979, and his wife Queen Duong Van Nga transferred the throne to Commander-in-chief Le Hoan when the country faced the threat of aggression from the Sung invaders. Le Hoan ascended the throne in 980, defeated the foreign aggressors, and ruled over the country. In 1009, the throne was transferred to Ly Cong Uan, the founder of the Ly dynasty, who moved the capital to Thang Long (present-day Hanoi).

Architecture of the Dinh – Le Temple

In Hoa Lu, two temples were built by the people to be dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Hoan. The temple dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang (968 – 979) is located in Yen Trung village and is called Upper Temple. The temple dedicated to King Le Hoan (980 – 1009) is located in Yen Ha village and is called Lower Temple. The distance between them is about 500 meters. In front of the entrance to the temple of King Dinh Tien Hoang, there is a stone pillar bearing four Chinese characters Bac Mon toa thuoc (Locked Door to the North). Behind the entrance is the royal courtyard with two big pillars in the middle of the courtyard is a carved stone royal bed 1.8m in length and 1.4m in width and two stone unicorns. The temple comprises three houses: the Ceremonial House, the Intermediate House and the Main Shrine for worshipping King Dinh Tien Hoang represented by a bronze statue. The worshipping tablets of the King’s offspring and generals are also found there. The temple dedicated to King Le Dai Harm contains, among other things, the worshipping tablets of Queen Duong Van Nga, of King Le Long Dinh, the successor of King Le Hoan. Both temples follow the architectural pattern of “noi cong ngoai quoc” and are arranged symmetrically along an axis. They were repaired in 1607 – 1610 and 1892 -1894.

The Dinh – Le temple are really worth your visit within your Ninh Binh Tours as well as Vietnam tour packages.

Ma Yen Moutain

The height of Ma Yen mountain is about 200m. People called it Ma Yen, because it looks like a saddles.

This mountain is associated with the legend of Dinh Bo Linh who chose this mountainous region to build the capital.

When the king passed away, the people buried his body on top of the mountain. Also at the foot of Ma Yen mountain to the souththere is also the tomb of King Le Dai Hanh

If standing on the top of Ma Yen, you can see the panorama of ancient capital of Hoa Lu.

Nhat Tru Pagoda

Nhat Tru Pagoda, also known as One Pillar Pagoda, is an ancient temple from the 10th century in the special preserved area of Hoa Lu ancient relic (Ninh Binh).The pagoda owns a national treasure of the stone pillar carved with Buddhist scriptures.

Nhat Tru Pagoda is the place of many unique festivals.

When to visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

As my travelling experiences, you can visit anytime of the weather. However, Spring is usually considered as the most beautiful time to visit Hoa Lu because there is many interesting festivals after Lunar Tet Holiday. It is a short trip to visit for half day or full day, so it is not the big note for the time. As my opion, you should choose to visit Vietnam from October to April ( Winter, Spring season in Vietnam). It is chill enough and very cool.

How to go to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

  • By train: You can choose the train from Hanoi: Tickets from 90.000 VND to 200.000 VND. There is only one train departing at 09.00 AM. And then it takes you 2 hours by train. As my experience, you should not take the train because you need to move your hotel to train station and then move from station to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh, it is cheap but not convenient.
  • By shuttle us or limousine: It is very easy and convenient. Now, there are many shuttle bus ( morning at 07.30AM) / limousine ( 1 hour/ departure). Price is from 100.000 VND to 300.000 VND/ one way ticket. Pick up at your hotel ( in Old Quarter) and drop off at Hoa Lu. So save the time.
  • Join the packaged tours from Hanoi.

What to eat in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

  • Cooked and fired rice: It is famous food in Ninh Binh. The rice is crispy, light yellow color, served with special sauce.
  • Goat Meat ( Mountain goats): It is delicious and extremely nutritious, good for health.
  • Snail dishes: They are crispy and cooked in various ways: Steamed with ginger, stir-fried snails, mixed salad...

Tips from me: Local travel guide for your trip in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.

Hoa Lu Ninh Binh is a spiritual tourist destination, so when you come here:

  • You need to wear your clothes politely.
  • Keep gently while visiting king Dinh- Le temple.
  • Must follow the guidance of management of Hoa Lu tour guide
  • No littering.
  • If travel by yourself, see the map of Hoa Lu tourist complex first.

If you want to learn about Vietnamese history, Hoa Lu is the place for you. If you travel alone or by your self, you can take the bus or even drive the motorbike. I dont recommend you take drive from Hanoi but it is ideal if you take the bus/limousine for a comfortable ride and then rent the motorbike around. Ninh Binh is a peaceful province, you can drive to visit around, especially Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.

If you want a relaxing trip, you can join our daily tours. We daily arrange these tours, you can join with cheap prices, smaller group, better care. All inclusions such as: Transfer, Tour Guide, Lunch, Tickets...The reason we suggest these tours because you can save the time to combine Hoa Lu Ancient Capital with other tourist destinations such as Trang An Boat Tour, Tam Coc Boat Tour, especially Mua Cave - The new attractive destination to check in in Ninh Binh.- Join: Hoa Lu Tam Coc One Day Tour From Hanoi or Trang An Mua Cave Hoa Lu Tour.

You can also read our many good reviews on tripadvisor or airbnb, so you can trust on our advice.

  1. Local Tours Vietnam on Tripadvisor
  2. Local Tours Vietnam on Airbnb.