Vietnam is abundant with architectural masterpieces, in the form of temples. Temple-hopping is a nice start to your Vietnam exploration to learn about the fascinating character and rich history of each structure. Want to do a temple run in Vietnam? Here’s a must-see list.
My Son Sanctuary
Built between the 4th and 13th centuries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the must-visits when it comes to temple explorations. My Son is composed of clustered temple ruins spread across a valley surrounded by lush greeneries and hills and mountains. This scenic site was previously the center of religious and political life in the Champa kingdom. These temples were bombed during the Vietnam War, thus the dramatic ruins. Best to go here with a tour guide who can explain the rich history of this ancient complex.
Address: Đường vào Mỹ Sơn, Thánh địa Mỹ Sơn, Duy Xuyên, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature was built in honor of Confucius, in 1070. Then six years later, King Ly Nhan Tong built a school dedicated to the royal families and the king’s children, called the Imperial Academy. This is also known as the oldest university in Vietnam. At present, its ancient architectural style remains. Inside the complex, you’ll see steles with information on doctors who passed the exams for a certain period. There are also gates, shrines, and a courtyard that you can explore, honoring professors and ancient kings.
Address: 58 P. Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Dinh and Le Temples
These two temples are built in commemoration of the first King of Vietnam Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh, his successor. Dinh’s temple is situated in Yen Trung village as the Upper Temple, while Le’s temple is the Lower Temple found in Yen Ha village. This nostalgic worshiping place is a significant slice of history where you can learn about the contributions of these great leaders in the country. Apart from the two kings, Dinh’s sons, his parents, and other generals of the Dinh dynasty also have worship tablets here.
Address: Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Linh Ung Pagoda
Linh Ung pagoda is one of the most striking and well-known temples in Vietnam. But did you know that there are three Linh Ung pagodas in Da Nang? The oldest one is found in Thu Son, the second was constructed in Ba Na Hills, and the last one with the iconic giant lady Buddha statue is in Son Tra. These three are recognized as Buddhist sanctuaries, so be sure to wear modest clothing when going on a pilgrimage.
Address: Son Tra Peninsula, Tho Quang Ward, Son Tra District, Vietnam
Cao Dai Holy See
The stunning, vivid temple of Cao Dai is located in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s the worship place of Caodaism, a relatively new religious movement, and is also the third largest religion in the country. The Cao Dai temple is out-of-the-ordinary in terms of architectural style, compared to the ancient temples you’ll usually find in Vietnam. Visitors are welcome to enter the temple to watch ceremonies and take photos of the uniquely beautiful and well-decorated temple of Cao Dai.
Address: Phạm Hộ Pháp, TT. Hoà Thành, Hoà Thành, Tây Ninh 80606, Vietnam
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Known as the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, Tran Quoc is a historic symbol of the capital city. This pagoda used to be a favorite sightseeing spot of Vietnam kings during festivals. The pagoda also preserves antiques and statues, some even decades old.
Aside from the pagoda itself, there are other interesting spots to see here like the three main houses from the gate of the pagoda and the garden with the Bodhi tree. Tourists love to visit this pagoda because of its peaceful and scenic location, that’s more spectacular during sunset.
Address: 46 Đ. Thanh Niên, Trúc Bạch, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Huong Pagoda (Perfume Pagoda)
This pagoda complex is one of the most popular Buddhist sites in Vietnam. Also known as Perfume Pagoda, Huong houses Buddhist pagodas and caves along the Huong Son limestone mountains. To reach the pagoda, you may take a boat ride from Ben Duc village, a scenic route surrounded by mountains and rice fields. To go to the main temple of the complex, the Huong Tich Son, you can hike or ride a cable car which offers a breathtaking view of nature.
Address: Hương Sơn, Mỹ Đức, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
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