The One Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot)
This is an historic Buddhist temple Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. Alongside the Perfume Temple in the Huong Son Commune, it is seen as one of the two most important and iconic temple sites in the country. It was erected by Emperor Ly Thai Tong in between 1028 and 1054. The temple underwent renovation work in 1105 by Emperor Ly Nhan Tong and in 1109 he attempted to erect the largest bell in the country. The bell though, was far too heavy, and could not be installed. It was moved into nearby farmland adjacent to the Nhất Trụ Temple. Built to resemble a lotus flower, it was destroyed by retreating French troops and rebuilt soon afterwards.
The Perfume Pagoda (Danh Thang Chua Huong)
This is actually a vast complex of Buddhist temples and shrines built into the limestone hills around Huong Tich. An annual religious festival takes place here and draws large numbers of pilgrims from across the country. The temple is in Huong Son Commune, My Duc District. This was formally Ha Tay Province, which is now Hanoi. At the centre of this complex, is the true Perfume Temple, also known as the Inner Temple. It is located inside the Huong Tich Cave. A stele here, dates the building of the stone steps and Kim Dung shrine as 1686, during the reign of Le Hy Tong.
Located in Quang Ninh Province the Yen Tu Mountain is the most sacred of places for Buddhists within the country. It boasts superb views of the surrounding country and is home to hundreds of temples. A famous Vietnamese saying states that, “Though you practice charity and do good deeds for a hundred years, you will not achieve perfect enlightenment if you have not been to Yen Tu.” The temples were built at the behest of King Tran Nhan Tong who reigned from 1279 until 1293. The mountain is 3500 feet at the summit and is covered in cloud for most of the time. This is also home to the the rocky outcrop called An Ky Sinh, “Heaven’s Gate”.
Bai Dinh Temple (Chua Bai Dinh)
The Bai Dinh Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex, to give it its full title, is a complex of Buddhist temples on the mountain of the same name. It is located in Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province. The complex holds the original old temple and a newly created larger one. It is the largest complex of Buddhist temples in the country and is a popular site for Buddhist pilgrims. Covering over 1700 acres, the new complex was started in 2003 and finished in 2010. The original pagoda is about 800 metres from the new temple.
Thien Mu Pagoda (Chua Thien Mu)
Also called Linh Mu, this is an historic temple in the city of Hue in Central Vietnam. The seven storey pagoda is the tallest religious building in Vietnam. It is widely regarded as the symbol for the former Imperial Capital City, and is mentioned in many local folk songs. It sits on the north bank of the Perfume River, about 2 miles from the Citadel of Ancient Monuments. Built in 1601 by Nguyen Hoang after hearing an old legend in which Thien Mu or “celestial lady”, appeared dressed in red and blue, at the site. She foretold that a lord would come and erect a pagoda on the hill to pray for the country’s prosperity.
Truc Lam Temple (Thien Vien Truc Lam)
This is a Zen Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Da Lat, the resort town in the South of Vietnam. The 60 acre site is built on a hill just outside the city boundaries. Access is gained by climbing 222 stone steps. The bell tower dominates the landscape. This is a full working monastery that houses about 100 monks and nuns in the private area. The public area is about 4000 feet above sea level overlooking stunning scenery; it was opened in 1994.
Jesus Christ Statue (Tuong Chua Jesus)
This huge 90 feet high statue, depicts the Christian icon with arms outstretched looking out over the Eastern Sea. It is located on Small Mountain just outside the city of Vung Tau on Vietnam’s southern coast. Including the plinth on which it stands it is an impressive 125 feet tall. The statue is hollow and has a spiral staircase which takes people up 129 steps to stand on the balconies erected on the shoulders of the statue. The 30 minute hike up the mountain rewards travellers with exceptional views of the locale.
Black Virgin Mountain (Khu Du Lich Tam Linh Nui Ba Den)
This is a mountain in Tay Ninh Province. According to Vietnamese myth, the mountain was home to Ba Den, a Khmer deity. During the Vietnamese War it was the scene of many battles between Vietnamese and American soldiers. After the war it was transformed from a battle ground to a site of beautiful temples and a theme park. The 3268 feet high Basalt rock edifice rises up from farmland and delta jungle to dominate the landscape. There is a gondola cable car ride to take visitors to the top.
Toa Thanh Cao Dai
Built in 1926 this is the spiritual home of Caodaism, the religion whose full title is Dai Dao Tam Ky Pho Do (The Great Faith for the Third Universal Redemption). Caodaists use the term Venerable High Lord as the name of the creator. It is estimated that there are more than 4 million adherents in the country. Ceremonies take place four times each day at 6:00am, Midday, 6.00pm and Midnight. A huge sphere inside the temple represents the left eye of God. The whole church, inside and out is decorated in bright colours.
Ba Chua Xu Temple (Mieu Ba Chua Xu)
Named in honour of the “Lady of the Realm” the prosperity Goddess of Southern Vietnam’s Thanist religion, this is located in Vinh Te Village near Sam Mountain near the border with Cambodia. A three-day festival is held here at the beginning of each rainy season, starting on the twenty-third day of the fourth lunar month. It is thought by many that the statue of “The Lady of the Realm” is actually an appropriated, feminised statue of Shiva, the Hindu deity. The temple is an extremely tranquil place to visit, despite the many pilgrims and tourists.
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