Bach Ma Temple (White Horse)-oldest building in Hanoi

By Onetrip | Hanoi Attractions

Nov 06

Stroll through the bustling streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter and discover the charming Bach Ma Temple, the oldest temple in this ancient district, distinguished by its traditional architecture and Vietnamese culture.

History of the Bach Ma Temple

Bach Ma Temple (White Horse)
Bach Ma Temple (White Horse)
Bach Ma Temple (White Horse)


Hidden in the heart of Hanoi’s old quarter, the Bach Ma Temple is the oldest temple of the religious complexity of the 36 guilds district. from the Vietnamese capital. Bach Ma temple was built in the 11th century by King Ly Thai To, the legendary founder of the great Vietnamese Ly dynasty and known for driving the Chinese invader from Dai Co Viet. King Ly Thai To is the one who ordered the transfer of Thang Long to the present location of Hanoi and built the Citadel of Hanoi.

Moreover, according to legend the place to construct the citadel would have come to the king by a dream. A white horse suddenly appeared in his dream and marked with his trails in a non-swampy area. Thanks to this dream, King LY Thai To found the right location for constructing the citadel 

Bach Ma Temple is dedicated to Long Do, the guardian of Thang Long’s genius tutelary. Bach Ma temple is part of what is called the ” sacred quartet ” which consists of 4 temples placed at the 4 cardinal points of the city and which protects it from evil spirits. The Bach Ma, Voi Phuc, Kim Lien, and Quan Thanh temples are respectively east, west, south, and north of our capital.
Over the centuries, Bach Ma Temple has suffered many losses from floods, natural disasters and ups, and downs of history. This place of worship was the subject of many reforms, one under the reign of King Chinh Hoa in the 17th century, another place under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang in the 19th century and more recently, in the early years 2000s

Visit of Bach Ma Temple

Nestled in the heart of Hanoi’s bustling old quarter, the Bach Ma Temple stands out in the urban landscape of Vietnam’s capital. From the outside, the temple shows great architectural sobriety. The building is built on one floor, which contrasts with other much higher buildings in the street. Bach Ma temple has a big colorful flag indicating the street – Co Ngu Hanh( the name of this flag)  with 5 colors symbolizing the 5 elements of Chinese philosophy: red for fire, yellow for earth, green for wood, white for metal and blue (or black) for water.

Each color also corresponds to one direction: blue for the north, white for the west, green for the east, red for the south and yellow for the center. You will notice that, before entering the temple, the beautiful roof is covered with glazed tiles arranged in Yin and Yang. Two golden dragons came from each side of a god on top of the roof.

Bach Ma Temple (White Horse)
Bach Ma Temple (White Horse)

Entering the temple, at the old wooden doors, you may discover a carefully decorated interior.

You can admire a magnificent red lacquer procession and the legendary white horse statue that guided the emperor to the site of the citadel. With more than a thousand years old, the Bach Ma temple has been home to many remains such as statues of divinities, shrines dedicated to Confucius, stone stelae, parallel sentences or beautiful ceramics.

Nowadays, many Hanoi residents still visit Bach Ma temple to burn incense and pray. It is a nice little temple that was well maintained, easily accessible and allows to see the Hanoians to practice their beliefs. Moreover, we advise you to come to the Bach Ma temple on weekends, the moment of the week when there is the most affluence. The temple then immerses itself in incense sticks radiating a captivating mental charm

And then in the evening, the whole neighborhood becomes pedestrians. It is very nice to stroll through the busy streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. This is the opportunity to taste the legendary street food of Hanoi which spreads along the sidewalks of the district. It is also known for the performances of many local artists at the weekend. Traditional and modern music and songs come to brighten up the streets of Hanoi’s old town.

Bach Ma Temple Time Open

  • Address: 76, Hang Buom, in the heart of the old district.
  • Opening: every day except Monday from 8:00 to 11:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00
  • Free admission
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