Vietnam is brimming with rich culture and a colourful history unlike any other, which makes it a tourist destination not to be missed. One of the many attractions in Vietnam are the temples.
These great architectural structures have become a drawing card for Vietnamese tourism and are a reflection of the spirituality of the people in Vietnam.
Although Buddhist temples are among some of the most popular to visit in Vietnam, there are temples for many other religions too.
Its vast array of religious backgrounds gave birth to a new religion which draws influences from Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, Islam and Buddhism. This religion is called Caodaism.
So what are temples? And why are they so important to the people of Vietnam?
Temples are built as the prime place of worship for many religious groups. For Buddhists in particular, the temples are built to inspire inner and outer peace simultaneously. Many of the temples built in Vietnam were built in remembrance and praise of an Idol or religious Icon.
The One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột)
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The One Pillar Pagoda is considered by most Buddhist people to be the most important Buddhist temple in Vietnam. You’ll find Buddhist families from all over the country coming to pray at this significant religious site.
The temple was built by King Ly Thai Tong in 1049 as a token of gratitude. It has become a recognized symbol of compassion by all buddhists.
This beautiful temple is rather small but well worth the visit. It’s easy to find, located just outside Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi.
Yen Tu Pagoda
Yen Tu pagoda is known for its peaceful atmosphere. If a bit of zen-time is what you’re looking for, then this beautifully situated piece of architecture is the place to visit. Placed atop the Yen Tu mountain peak, this 100% bronze structure looks out over the forest below.
The Yen Tu pagoda is accessible via cable car that runs up the side of the mountain and is a great was to take in all the views this stunning area has to offer.
The Yen Tu pagoda is conveniently placed between Hanoi and Halong Bay. Which makes for a great stop off point along the way.
The Perfume pagoda is considered by the people of Vietnam to be one of the three most iconic temples in the country. It’s also one of the largest temple complexes in Vietnam.
Be sure to set aside a few hours to explore this temple and dress for the occasion – hiking gear is recommended.
The Perfume pagoda is a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists all over Vietnam so you’ll find this temple busy all year round. The traffic to the site increases during the lunar new year so it would be best to avoid visiting around January and February.
This temple consists of a series of Buddhist shrines carved into the limestone of the Perfume mountains, the biggest of which is the Perfume pagoda.
Thien Mu Pagoda
The Thien Mu Pagoda is located in central Vietnam near the ancient city of Hue.
The name Thien Mu, meaning “heavenly lady” was given to this pagoda because an elderly lady told the local people that a Lord form the Nguyen Dynasty would build a pagoda on the Ha Khe Hill.
Shortly after, in 1601, Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of this temple and named it after the elderly lady.
The Thien Mu pagoda is an active temple for monks to study and live. Near the end of the temple grounds lies a burial ground for the monks that have passed while living in the pagoda.
The easiest way to get to this temple is to take a boat ride from central Hue. This pagoda is fairly small and should only take you about half and hour to explore the grounds.
Bao Quoc Temple
This famous pagoda is known for its monk training centre that was founded in 1940. Although the Bao Quoc pagoda itself is much older, dating back to 1670. The temple is surrounded by buildings and stupas that were built in honour of Buddhist figures.
Conveniently situated just a kilometer outside of Hue’s city centre, it’s easy to get to and accessible by car.
Other Temples in Vietnam
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is home to Vietnam’s first university. This is a Confucian temple that was founded in 1070 and is featured on one of Vietnam’s bank notes.
Inside the temple you’ll find five courtyards, one of which is used as a resting and meditation place for the monks who live there. The other courtyards feature several sculptures and monuments for the students that have excelled at the ancient university.
The temple of literature is rather large, so give yourself some time to wander around and explore the grounds. This Confucian temple is situated in the heart of Vietnam so you’ll have no trouble finding it.
My Son Ruins
The My Son Ruins are a UNESCO heritage site located outside of Hoi An and Da Nang. These ruins are a collection of temples that have been left in ruin due to war.
They are no longer functional, so you won’t find any locals coming to the temples for prayer or worship.
These Hindu temples were constructed somewhere between the 4th and 13th century and are now in a state of serious decay mainly due to war in the area.
Some parts of the ruins are in repair so you’ll notice scaffolding supporting some of the ruins, which does make them a lot less picture-friendly.
Other Temple Visiting Info:
It’s important to note that most of these temples do not charge you for visiting, however the upkeep of the temples does cost money. So, you are encouraged to make a small donation towards the maintenance of the temple.
Be sure to dress appropriately as a sign of respect for the religious site and its attendees that are there to worship and pray. You’ll also be asked to remove your shoes and walk barefoot through most of the temples.
Always remember to be respectful of those that are there to pray. Although these temples are tourist destinations, above all they are also deeply spiritual places for the locals.