Chua Bai Dinh is a bombastic Buddhist complex, built on a vast scale, that rises up a hillside near Ninh Binh. Construction was completed in 2014, and it's now a huge attraction for Vietnamese tourists. The entrance leads to cloistered walkways past 500 stone arhats (enlightened Buddhists) lining the route to the main triple-roofed Phap Chu Pagoda. This contains a 10m, 100-tonne bronze Buddha, flanked by two more gilded Buddha figures.
Steps behind lead to a viewpoint, a 13-storey pagoda and a giant Buddha. The compound's central area features more temples, including one showcasing a 36-tonne bell, the largest in Vietnam. Most structures use natural materials, and the complex's impressive bronzework, lacquerwork and stone-carving was crafted by local artisans.
Chua Bai Dinh is 11km northwest of Ninh Binh, and attracts many visitors. Think twice if you’re after a spiritual experience. Tours arrive at the main car park where an electric train (per person 30,000d) continues to the main entrance. If you arrive independently by bicycle you'll still be directed to the car park to catch the train.