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Vietnam Pagoda and Temples

Vietnam Pagodas, Vietnam Temples, Towers, Churches, Tombs

Perfume pagoda

Location: Ha Tay, Vietnam

Chua Huong (Perfume pagoda) is located in Huong son (Perfume mountain) 70 km southwest of Hanoi. Chua Huong is not one temple but a cluster of temples and shrines in the general vicinity of Huong son.

 

The pagoda(s) are located in My Duc hamlet in the province of Ha Tay.According to the book, Huong Son Thien Tru Pha, Huong Tich temple was built during the reign of Le Chinh Hoa (1680-1705), by a monk who happened on the site on his way to search for enlightenment. Other shrines and temples were later built in this area to take advantage of the beautiful scenery in this area.

 

A complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich Mountain (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces) makes up the Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong; admission 17,000d plus 8000d return boat trip). Among the better-known sites here are Thien Chu (Pagoda Leading to Heaven); Giai Oan Chu (Purgatorial Pagoda), where the faithful believe deities purify souls, cure sufferings and grant offspring to childless families; and Huong Tich Chu (Pagoda of the Perfumed Vestige).

The entertaining boat trip along the scenic waterways between limestone cliffs takes about two hours return; allow an additional two or three hours return to climb to the top. A word of warning: bring good walking shoes! The path to the top is steep in places and if its raining the ground can get very slippery.

Great numbers of Buddhist pilgrims come here during a festival that begins in the middle of the second lunar month and lasts until the last week of the third lunar month (usually corresponding to March and April). Its very busy during this period, especially on the even dates of the lunar month; youll have a much easier time if you establish the lunar date and plan to go on an odd date. In 2002, on the particularly auspicious sixth day of the first lunar month, 3000 boats crammed the waterway and there was a boat jam that lasted from noon until 9pm! Weekends tend to draw crowds all year, when pilgrims and other visitors spend their time boating, hiking and exploring the caves. Litter and noisy stalls and hawkers are part and parcel of the visit, and some hawkers are persistent enough to hassle you all the way to the top; you have been warned!

Tomb of Gia Long

Location: Hue, Vietnam

To visit Gia Longs tomb, tourists can go by boat about 18 km along the Perfume river and then land directly at the wharf of the tomb, or they can go about 16 km by car to Kim Ngoc wharf, take the bac from there and walk for some more kilometers.

The tomb of Gia Long is in fact a group of tombs including those of the Emperors relatives. The whole compound is spread on a joint mountain with 42 small and big mounts, amongst which Dai Thien Tho is the biggest.

The Emperors Tomb is located on a flat, big hill. In the front, Thien Tho Mount form a natural screen, and in the back seven hills raise like natural defenses. On the left, 14 peaks form the "left blue dragons" (Ta Thanh Long), and on the right, another 14 form the "right white tigers" (Huu Bach Ho).

The tomb complex is composed of three areas:

- In the middle: There are the double-grave tomb of the Emperor and Queen Thua Thien Cao. Passing the Honor Court, visitors can see imposing stone statues. Seven steps of the worship-yard lead to Buu Thanh on the hill top. Inside Buu Thanh, the stone double-grave is built according to the concept of "Can Khon Hiep Duc" a symbol of happiness and loyalty.

- On the right: The main monument is Minh Thanh Temple, dedicated to the Emperor and his first Queen. Formerly, it used to contain many artefacts related to Gia Longs military life.

- On the left: The main monument is the stele pavilion. Nowadays, only the stele is left, minutely inscribed with Emperor Minh Mangs singing of the late Emperors praises.

To move along the paths among the grass and wild flowers, under the fresh shady pines, tourists can visit other neighboring tombs in this section such as Quang Hung Tomb (the second wife of Lord Hien Vuong Nguyen Phuc Tan (1620- 1687), mother of Lord Nguyen Phuc Tran), Vinh Mau Tomb (the wife of Lord Nguyen Phuc Tran (1650-1691)); Thoai Thanh tomb (the second wife of Nguyen Phuc Luan and mother of Gia Long Emperor).The most noticeable one is the tomb of Thuan Thien Cao Queen, mother of Emperor Minh Mang. Next to it is Gia Thanh Temple, dedicated to her.

Gia Longs tomb is a wonderful picture of nature and architecture, which provides a superb view of the boundless mountains and the solitary pine forest.

Po Klong Garai Cham Towers

Location: Phan Rang, Vietnam

Phan Rang and Thap Chams most famous landmark is Po Klong Garai, also known as Po Klong Girai - girai means dragon. The four brick towers were constructed at the end of the 13th century, during the reign of the Cham monarch Jaya Simhavarman III. The towers were built as Hindu temples and stand on a brick platform at the top of Chok Hala, a crumbly granite hill covered with some of the most ornery cacti this side of the Rio Grande.

Over the entrance to the largest tower (the kalan, or sanctuary) is a carving of a dancing Shiva with six arms. This bas-relief is known locally as Po Klaun Tri - the Guardian of the Temple Tower - and is famous for its beauty. Note the inscriptions in the ancient Cham language on the doorposts. These tell of past restoration efforts and offerings of sacrifices and slaves made to the temple towers.

Inside the vestibule is a statue of the bull Nandin (also known as the Kapil Ox), symbol of the agricultural productivity of the countryside. To ensure a good crop, farmers would place an offering of fresh greens, herbs and areca nuts in front of Nandins muzzle.

Under the main tower is a mukha-linga, a linga with a human face painted on it. A wooden pyramid has been constructed above the mukha-linga.

Inside the tower, opposite the entrance to the sanctuary, you can get a good look at some of the Chains sophisticated building technology; the wooden columns that support the lightweight roof are visible. The structure attauied to it was originally the main entrance to the complex.

On a nearby hill is a rock with an inscription from the year 1050, commemorating the erection of a linga by a Cham prince.

On the hill directly south of Chok Hala is a concrete water tank built by the Americans in 1965. It is encircled by French pillboxes built during the Franco-Viet Minn War to protect the nearby rail yards. To the north of Chok Hala, you can see the concrete revetments of Thanh Son Airbase, used since 1975 by the Vietnamese Air Force.

Po Klong Garai is several hundred metres north of Hwy 20, at a point 6km west of Phan Rang towards Dalat. The towers are on the opposite side of the tracks to Thap Cham train station. If you e travelling between Dalat and Nha Trang or Mui Ne Beach, you will pass the site. Most of the open-lour buses shuttling people between Dalat and the coast make a requisite pit stop here.

Temple of Literature

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

Temple of Literature is located on Van Mieu Street, 2km west of Hoan Kiem Lake. Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam is a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university. The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 in honour of Confucius, his followers and Chu Van An, a moral figure in Vietnamese education.

Quoc Tu Giam, or Vietnams first university, was built in 1076. Throughout its hundreds of years of activity in the feudal, thousands of Vietnamese scholars graduated from this university.

In 1483 Quoc Tu Giam was changed into Thai Hoc Vien (Higher Educational Institute). After decades of war and natural disasters, the former construction was completely destroyed. In preparation for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long (present day Hanoi) another construction has been built following the model of the previous Thai Hoc Vien on the same ground. The work includes the front hall, the back sanctuary, lean-tos on the left and on the right, the courtyard, and subsidiary structures.

This site preserves historical vestiges of a 1,000-year-old civilization such as statues of Confucius and his disciples (Yan Hui, Zengshen, Zisi, Mencius), and ancient constructions such as Khue Van Cac (Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature) and the Worshipping Hall.

Po Nagar Cham Towers

Location: Nhatrang, Vietnam

The Cham towers of Po Nagar were built between the 7th and 12th centuries. The site was used for Hindu worship as early as the 2nd century AD. Today, both ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists come to Po Nagar to pray and make offerings, according to their respective traditions. This site has a continuing religious significance, so do remember to remove your shoes before entering.

The towers serve as the Holy See, honouring Yang lno Po Nagar, the goddess of the Dua (Liu) clan, which ruled over the southern part of the Cham kingdom covering Kauthara and Pan Duranga (present day Khanh Hoa and Thuan Hai provinces). The original wooden structure was razed to the ground by attacking Javanese in AD 774 but was replaced by a stone-and-brick temple (the first of its kind) in 784. There are stone slabs scattered throughout the complex, most of which relate to history or religion, and provide insight into the spiritual life and social structure of the Cham.

Originally the complex covered an area of 500 sq metres and there were seven or eight towers, four of which remain. All of the temples face east, as did the original entrance to the complex, which is to the right as you ascend the hillock. In centuries past, a person coming to pray passed through the pillared meditation hall, 10 pillars of which can still be seen, before proceeding up the staircase to the towers.

The 28m-high North Tower (Thap Chinh), with its terraced pyramidal roof, vaulted interior masonry and vestibule, is a superb example of Cham architecture. One of the tallest Cham towers, it was built in AD 981 by Pangro, a minister of King Harivarman 1, after the original temples here were sacked and burned. The raiders also carried off a linga made of precious melal. In AD 918 King Indravarman 111 placed a gold mukha-linga in the North Tower, but il too was taken, this time by the Khmers. This pat-lern of statues being destroyed or stolen and then replaced continued for some time until 965, when King lava Indravarman 1 replaced the gold mukha-linga with the stone figure, Uma (shakti, or a feminine manifestation ol Shiva), which remains to this day.

Above the entrance to the North Tower, two musicians flank a dancing four-armed Shiva, one of whose feet is on the head of the bull Nandin. The sandstone doorposts are covered with inscriptions, as are parts of the walls of the vestibule. A gong and a drum stand under the pyramid-shaped ceiling of the antechamber. In the 28m-high pyramidal main chamber, there is a black stone statue of the goddess Uma (in the shape of Bhagavati) with 10 arms, two of which are hidden under her vest; she is seated and leaning back against some sort of monstrous animal.

The Central Tower (Thap Nam) was built partly of recycled bricks in the 12th century on the site of a structure dating from the 7th century. It is less finely constructed than the other towers and has little ornamentation; the pyramidal roof lacks terracing or pilasters, although the interior altars were once covered with silver. There is a linga inside the main chamber. Note the inscription on the left-hand wall of the vestibule.

The South Tower (Mien Dong Nam), at one time dedicated to Sandhaka (Shiva), still shelters a linga. The richly ornamented Northwest Tower (Thap Tay Bac) was originally dedicated to Gsnesha. The pyramid-shaped summit of its roof has disappeared. The West Tower, of which almost nothing remains, was constructed by King Vikran-tavarman during the first half of the 9th century. Near the North Tower is a small museum with a few mediocre examples of Cham stonework; the explanatory signs are in Vietnamese only. At one time there was a small temple on this site.

The towers of Po Nagar stand on a granite knoll, 2km north of central Nha Trang and on the banks of the Cai River. To get here from central Nha Trang, take Quang Trung street (which becomes 2 Thang 4 street) north across Ha Ra and Xom Bong Bridges, which span the mouth of the Cai River. Po Nagar can also be reached via the new Tran Phu Bridge along the beachfront road.

ot only are the towers famous for their architecture and sculpture, but they are also well known for their great significance in history, nationalism, and archaeology.

Standing on the top of the hill, one can admire the beautiful landscapes of the coastal region of Nha Trang.

Japanese Covered Bridge

Location: Hoian, Vietnam

Japanese Covered Bridge, also called the Pagoda Bridge (Chua Cau) is located in Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province. The Pagoda Bridge was built in the 16th century and is still incredibly well-preserved.

This famed bridge (Cau Nhat Ban or Lai Vien Kieu) connects 155 D Tran Phu with 1D Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. The first bridge on this site was constructed in the 1590s. It was built by the Japanese community of Hoi An in order to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream. The bridge was constructed with a roof so that it could be used as a shelter from both the rain and sun.

The Japanese Covered Bridge is very solidly constructed; apparently the original builders were concerned about the threat of earthquakes. Over the centuries the ornamentation of the bridge has remained electively faithful to the original Japanese design. Its understatement contrasts greatly with the Vietnamese and Chinese penchant lor wild decoration. The French flattened out the roadway to make it more suitable lor their motor vehicles, but the original arched shape was restored during major renovation work carried out in 1986.

Built into the northern side of the bridge is a small temple (Chua Cau). The writing over the door of the temple is the name given to the bridge in 1719 to replace the name meaning Japanese Covered Bridge However the new name, Lai Vien Kieu (Bridge for Passers-By from Afar), never quite caught on.

According to legend, there once lived an enormous monster called Cu, who had its head in India, its tail in Japan and its body in Vietnam. Whenever the monster moved, terrible disasters such as floods and earthquakes befell Vietnam. This bridge was built on the monsters weakest point and killed it, but the people of Hoi An took pity on the slain monster and built this temple to pray for its soul.

The entrances of the bridge are guarded by a pair of monkeys on one side and a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, these animals were popularly revered because many of Japans emperors were born in years of the dog and monkey. Another tale relates that construction of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and was finished in the year of the dog.

The stelae, listing all the Vietnamese and Chinese contributors to a subsequent restoration of the bridge, are written in chu nho (Chinese characters) - the nom script had not yet become popular in these parts.

But Thap Pagoda

Location: Bac Ninh, Vietnam

Situated on the dike south of the Duong River in Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh Province is But Thap (pen sputa), one of the finest pagodas in the countrys north and known as Vietnams first Buddhist center.

The pagoda was built under the dynasty of King Tran Thanh Tong (1258-1278) and rebuilt in 1647 in the Le Dynasty by Chinese Zen Buddhist priest Zhus Zhus, known as Chuyet Chuyet in Vietnamese. Legend has it that when leaving his former pagoda on the northern bank of the Duong River, priest Chuyet Chuyet saw a flock of flying swallows suddenly swooping down and perching on the ground on the southern bank, he decided to rebuild the pagoda there and named it Ninh Phuc Tu, which means peace and bless.

The pagodas history is also connected with Queen Trinh Thi Ngoc Truc, a daughter of Lord Trinh Trang. After her husband died, her father forced her to marry King Le Than Tong (1619-1643). The Queen then devoted herself to the Buddhism religion and raised money to restore the Ninh Phuc Tu. During this time she wrote Ngoc Am Chi Nam, considered as Vietnams first Han-Nom (Chinese-Vietnamese) dictionary. The pagoda was built according to Noi Cong Ngoai Quoc (Nei Kung Wai Kwo) architectural style, that means it has the shape of the Chinese script Kung inside and the script Kwo outside. With more than 100 compartments, But Thap is larger than many other pagodas in the north. Passing through its three-entrance gate, then a bell tower with eight roofs, visitors reach the main temple complex. The main entrance of the temple is open on big holidays only while on normal days visitors have to enter the temple through the small side entrances.

Inside the temple are more than 50 statues of different sizes including the Triad Buddha, Manjusri (Van Thu) on a blue lion and Samantabhadra (Pho Hien) on a white elephant. The most remarkable is a thousand-handed and thousand-eyed Guanyin, which is described as a sculptural masterpiece of Vietnam. Work on the statue began in 1656 and took several years for completion. The statue is 2.5 meters tall, excluding its pedestal, with 11 heads and 14 layers of 789 arms with an eye in each palm forming a circle 2.2 m in diameter. Forty-two more arms encircle the waist, making various gestures of the hands. The goddess is sitting on a lotus lifted up by dragons. Passing through a small stone bridge visitor reach Am Tich Duc (accumulated good deeds sanctum), then the Middle Hall (nha trung), followed by the Worship Palace (phu tho) where statues of Queen Trinh Thi Ngoc Truc and her children can be found. Behind the backyard garden stand two stone stupas, both some 20 meters tall, used to contain remains of priest Chuyet Chuyet and the pagodas second priest Minh Hanh.The name But Thap was given by King Tu Duc in 1876 when, on a field research tour of Kinh Bac, or the former northern citadel, he saw the beautiful stone sputa shaped like a pen at this pagoda. The literary name of the stupa was Bao Nghiem, which means to pay a debt of gratitude to the master for his strict teaching.

Being recognized as the countrys cultural historic relic, But Thap Pagoda is not only an important place for pilgrims but also a tourist attraction. From Hanoi downtown, drive along National Highway 5 some 15 kilometers to Sui region, then turn left and go straight around five kilometers you will reach But Thap Pagoda. Or you can take a boat ride up the Red River. Where the Red River meets the Duong River, the boat turns on the latter going downstream some 20 kilometers to reach But Thap Pagoda.

Do Temple

Location: Bac Ninh, Vietnam

Do Temple was built during the Le Dynasty and has been altered several times since. The major reconstruction took place under the reign of Le Trung Hung, in the 17th century.

"In front of the Temple lies a semi-circular lake, 9,500 sq. in area, with clear and full water all the year round. The lake is connected with two ponds at both ends of the village, with the Tieu Tuong River in front of the village. In the center of the lake stands a square house reserved for water puppetry performances with two beautiful tiered roofs. To the south of the lake, there is a huge pavilion to preserve stone slabs inscribed with the merits of the eight Ly kings, and to the north of the lake, a 5-compartment floating house for visitors to take a rest.

"The Temples gate includes five doors made of hard wooden plates assembled together and carved on top images of dragons waiting upon the moon. When the door opens. Its two leaves are wide apart, and the two dragons on top of the doors seem to be soaring. On day, the dragons eyes when catching the light, shine like gemstones.

"Along the three-step staircase, are carved two stone dragons with clouds around, on a green stone floor, symbolizing the Thang Long (Soaring Dragon) capital.

Passing the gate and a large yard, a green stone paved road leads visitors to a square house, with eight tiered roofs and three compartments. 70 sq. in area. Then there is a 7-compartment front worship house, 220 sq.m in area, whose front walls are hung with two big posters displaying capital letters: "Eight Kings together brightening" and "Co Phap commune - a foundation of the Ly dynasty".

"Then comes a three-compartment house, 80sq.m in area, with eight tiered roofs. These three compartments are spacious and ventilated and on the axis leading to the Co Phap ancient back pavilion, 180sq.m in area, and with the floor space in the shape of a Cong letter..."

Different parts of the Do Temple are being restored one after another by skilful craftsmen. A rolling of drumbeats was suddenly heard, signaling the start of a procession to bring the tablet of King Ly Thai To from the Do Temple to the Ung Tam Pagoda where the Kings mother was worshipped for a reunion of the King and his mother. The procession was attended by a thousand of people, who expressed the spirit of the Vietnamese, i.e. "when drinking the water, think of its source".

Dau Pagoda

Location: Ha Tay, Vietnam

Dau Pagoda with the old name "Thanh Dao Tu", located at the end of Gia Phuc Village, Nguyen Trai Commune, Thuong Tin District, Ha Tay Province, about 24km far from Hanoi to the south.

Buddhist cult and also cult of Buddhist doctrine at the power of Rain ( Phap Vu) in the system of Tu Phap (See Dau pagoda). According to the legend, the pagoda might have been built at the time of Chinese Governor Si Nghiep (late IIth century - early IIIth century) right after the construction of the chain pagodas called Tu Phap to Luy Lau (Bac Ninh).

Under the Tran (1225-1400), the pagoda has been enlarged, a stone dragon remains on the steeps of the prior house of Tien Duong.

Under the Mac (XIVth century), it was restored, a stele remains dated from 1565 (4th year of Sung Khanh reign). The stele of 1639 registers the merits of odalisque Ngo Thi Ngoc Nguyen who financed the reconstruction of the pagoda, giving it the aspect entirely preserved until now.

Other repairs have been made during the post Le dynasties, the Tay Son and the Nguyen, steles and bells remain of them. In 1655, Le Than Tong awarded to the pagoda a royal certificate with the title of "First picturesque site of the Annam land".

The Lords Trinh Can (1698) and Trinh Cuong (1718) have visited the pagoda and written poems in its honor. The constructions, well preserved enough, look on small stream. Architectural composition: square enclosure, the interior on form of a H letter turned upside down.

One should note statues of numerous monks deceased in the pagoda, in particular tow of them in the form of mummies (Vu Khac Minh and Vu Khac Truong). The small pagoda dedicated to Vu Khac Minh is distinguished by its bricks decorated of floral and animal designs (early XVIIth century).

Tuyen Linh Pagoda

Location: Ben Tre, Vietnam

Tuyen Linh Pagoda was built in the Tan Dau Lunar year (year of Chicken, 1861), the Tu Duc 14th year of Reign, on the Tan Huong Ditch in Minh Duc Commune, Mo Cay District. The Pagoda is a place of many remarkable historic events. At first, it was named Tien Linh Pagoda, and later renamed Tuyen Linh.

From its first year in 1861, the Pagoda was presided over by Superior Buddhist Monk Khanh Phong. In 1907, Khanh Phong was replaced by Monk Le Khanh Hoa, or Thich Nhu Tri as religious name, a senior Buddhist scholar from Phu Le Commune, Ba Tri District. Le Khanh Hoa was also the founder of the Cochinchine Buddhist Society and the Luong Xuyen Society of Buddhists, including many senior monks and nuns from all over the Cochinchine. He was also Chief editor of the Tu Bi Am Magazine (The Sound of Mercy).

In 1930, the pagoda was renovated for the first time, and was renamed Tuyen Linh by Monk Le Khanh Hoa.

According to the Party History Research Committee of Dong Thap province, around the end of 1926, Doctor Nguyen Sinh Sac, father of President Ho Chi Minh, came and stayed at Tuyen Linh Pagoda for a period of time. During his staying here under the care and guard by Monk Le Khanh Hoa, he taught and gave medical care to local people. He had contacts with Tran Van An, Huynh Khac Man, and Le Van Phat, who later became the first generation of Ben Tre Party Committee membership.

In his last days, Monk Le Khanh Hoa mobilized Buddhist monks and believers in the province to take part in revolutionary activities. In 1947, he fell ill out of high age. He dictated his will for his disciple to record, gave advisce to and arranged works for his disciples, ordered them to continue to mobilize local people and Buddhist believers to join the revolution and fight foreign invaders. He passed away on June 19, 1947.

In 1956, in commemorating the truly patriotic Monk, the Sangha Society (Buddhist Monastic Community) and all his disciples restored the funeral and cremation ceremonies at Tuyen Linh Pagoda.

In the resisting wars against the French and American invasions, Tuyen Linh Pagoda played an important role as a shelter for Ben Tre revolutionary leaders.

On July 20, 1994, Tuyen Linh Pagoda was recognized the national historical-cultural relic at the Decision 921-QD/BT issued by the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Cao Dai Holy See

Location: Tay Ninh, Vietnam

The Cao Dai Holy See, founded in 1926, is 4km east of Tay Ninh, in the village of Long Hoa. The complex houses the Cao Dai Great Temple (Thanh That Cao Dai), administrative offices, residences for officials and adepts, and a hospital of traditional Vietnamese herbal medicine, to which people from all over the south travel for treatment. After reunification the government orrowed parts of the complex for its own use (and perhaps to keep an eye on the sect).

Prayers are conducted four times daily in the Great Temple (suspended during let). Its worth visiting during prayer sessions - the one at noon is most popular with tour groups from HCMC - but don disturb the worshippers. Only a few hundred priests participate in weekday prayers, but during festivals several thousand priests, dressed in special white garments, may attend.

The Cao Dai clergy has no objection to your photographing temple objects, but you cannot photograph people without their permission, which is seldom granted. However, you can photograph the prayer sessions from the upstairs balcony, an apparent concession to the troops of tourists who come here every day.

Its important that guests wear modest and respectful attire inside the temple; that means no shorts or sleeveless T-shirts, although sandals are OK since you have to take them off anyway before you enter.

Set above the front portico of the Great Temple is the divine eye. Americans often comment that it looks as if it were copied from the back of a US$1 bill (is this why its called The Almighty Dollar?). Lay women enter the Great Temple through a door at the base of the tower on the left. Once inside they walk around the outside of the colonnaded hall in a clockwise direction. Men enter on the right and walk around the hall in an anticlockwise direction. Shoes and hats must be removed upon entering the building. The area in the centre of the sanctuary is reserved for Cao Dai priests.

A mural in the front entry hall depicts the three signatories of the Third Alliance Between God and Man: the Chinese statesman and revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) holds an ink stone; while the Vietnamese poet Nguyen Binh Khiem (1492-1587) and French poet and author Victor Hugo (1802-85) write God and Humanity and Love and Justice in Chinese and French (Nguyen Binh Khiem writes with a brush; Victor Hugo uses a quill pen). Nearby signs in English, French and German each give a slightly different version of the fundamentals of Cao Daism.

The Great Temple is built over nine levels, representing the nine steps to heaven; each level is marked by a pair of columns. At the far end of the sanctuary, eight plaster columns entwined with multicoloured dragons support a dome representing the heavens -as does the rest of the ceiling. Under the dome is a giant star-speckled blue globe with the divine eye on it.

The largest of the seven chairs in front of the globe is reserved for the Cao Dai pope, a position that has remained unfilled since 1933. The next three chairs are for the three men responsible for the religions law books. The remaining chairs are for the leaders of the three branches of Cao Daism, represented by the colors yellow, blue and red.

On both sides of the area between the columns are two pulpits similar in design to the minbar in mosques. During festivals the pulpits are used by officials to address the assembled worshippers. The upstairs balconies are used if the crowd overflows.

Up near the altar are barely discernible portraits of six figures important to Cao Daism: Sakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism), Ly Thai Bach (Li Taibai, a fairy from Chinese mythology), Khuong Tu Nha (Jiang Taigong, a Chinese saint), Laozi (the founder of Taoism), Quan Cong (Guangong, Chinese God of War) and Quan Am (Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy).

Po Ro Me Cham Tower

Location: Phan Rang, Vietnam

Among the newest of Vietnams Cham towers, Po Ro Me Cham Tower (Thap Po Ro Me) is about 15km south of Phan Rang on a rocky hill 5km west of Hwy 1. The ruins are very interesting, but are also difficult to reach and your own motorbike or a xe om is required. The trip is guaranteed to be worthwhile as long as getting lost is a part of your agenda.

The sanctuary, which is decorated with numerous paintings and occupied by bats, has two inscribed doorposts; two stone stat­ues of the bull Nandin; a bas-relief repre­senting a deified king in the form of Shiva; and two statues of queens, one of whom has an inscription on her chest. The towers are named after the last ruler of an independent Champa, King Po Ro Me (r. 1629-51), who died as a prisoner of the Vietnamese.

To get here, take Hwy 1 south from Phan Rang, about lkm into the town of Phuoc Dan. A narrow sealed road just after the Petrolimex (petrol) station on the right takes you to a T-junction, where you should turn left. Stay on the road meander­ing through a dusty village, and youll see the towers ahead. A sign at the base of a hill points the way towards the last 500m. This dirt track may be negotiable on a mo­torbike, but it is deeply rutted, and studded with rocks and cacti.

Po Ro Me Tower was built between the end of 16th century and the beginning of 17th century. Like many other typical Cham Towers, Po Ro Me Tower has a square shape with 4 stories and is 8 meters high, with a nearly 8-meter wide base, and the door, which has the special style, faces to the East. At present, there exists only the 19m-high main tower. The statue of the king is 1.2m high and made into a high relief. It is put in front of an arched tombstone decorated with small relief at the back. Behind the main tower is a small shrine dedicated to the stone statue of Queen Bia Thanh Chih of Cham origin. Though not big, the tower has a distinctive style. Po Ro Me Tower is one of very few Cham Towers which has remained virtually intact up to now, and is the place where Cham people often pray to King Po Ro Me on festival days.

If you e lucky, the Cham caretaker of the ruins, Mr Truong Dai The, will be around to hike up the steps and unlock the temple door for you. The temple affords a won­derful view of the surrounding countryside and is blessedly quiet.

Long Son Pagoda

Location: Nhatrang, Vietnam

Perhaps the most impressive sight in Nha Trang, aside from the beach and Cham towers, is Long Son Pagoda, also known as Tinh Hoi Khanh Hoa Pagoda and An Nam Phat Hoc Hoi Pagoda. Its about 500m west of the train station. The Pagoda was first built on Mount Trai Thuy in 1886 and named Dang Long Pagoda. In 1900, the Pagoda was damaged in a storm and was rebuilt down the mountain in its present location.

The Khanh Hoa Buddhist Studies Foundation originated here in 1936. The pagoda underwent further restorations in 1940, 1971, and 1975.

Among the interesting things to see is the naturally lit image of Buddha displayed in this pagoda. There is also the 14-m red brass statue of Buddha sitting on a lotus pedestal.

This pagoda was built to commemorate the monks and nuns who died while fighting against the Diem government.

The pagoda, which has resident monks, was founded in the late 19th century and has been rebuilt several times over the years. The entrance and roofs are decorated with mosaic dragons constructed of glass and bits of ceramic tile. The main sanctuary is an attractive hall adorned with modern interpretations of traditional motifs. Note the ferocious nose hairs on the colourful dragons wrapped around the pillars on either side of the main altar.

At the top of the hill, behind the pagoda, is a huge white Buddha (Kim Than Phat To) seated on a lotus blossom and visible from all over the city. The platform around the 14m-high figure, which was built in 1963, has great views of Nha Trang and nearby rural areas. As you approach the pagoda from the street, the 152 stone steps up the hill to the Buddha begin to the right of the structure. You should take some time to explore off to the left, where theres an entrance to another impressive hall of the pagoda.

Binh Son Tower

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

Binh Son Tower is located near Vinh Khanh Pagoda in Binh Son village, Lap Thach district, Vinh Yen province, 150 km from Hanoi. Built during the Ly-Tran dynasty, this 16-m tower has 11 floors, each with a curved roof. The tower is empty on the inside and located on a square platform.

The tower was built with solid red bricks and its foundations was built with Vo bricks. The surface of the fine Vo bricks is dark and has flower imprints. These features create an harmonious building style, suitable to different architectural trends.

The tower was restored in 1972 after a landslide caused the tower to sink to one side. Although the towers foundations were raised 4 m higher than they were before the landslide, all the architectural attributes of the tower were kept intact.

Binh Son Tower is a unique architectural building of the Ly-Tran period that has been conserved in its original design.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Location: An Giang, Vietnam

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb is located in front of Ba Chua Xu Temple, that is the biggest monument at the foot of Sam Mountain, 5-km southwest of Chau Doc.

Thoai Ngoc Hau (1761-1829), originally named Nguyen Van Thoai, was the first man from this area to exploit the land, establish living settlements and dig the Vinh Te and Thoai Ha channels. He was buried here along with his two wives, and a temple in his hounour was built in the 1930s.

Every year, people come to his tomb to worship during the sixth lunar month.

Duc Ba Cathedral

Location: Saigon, Vietnam

The Duc Ba (Our Ladys) Cathedral is the spiritual and cultural crucible of the Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh city.

After the first French colonizing force arrived in Viet Nam in the mid-19th Century, it took only 21 years before the country had a cathedral to match the hulking Gothic edifices of France itself. The cathedral is supposed to represent the glory of the French Empire. Yet, as is always the case with colonization, this attempt to import French traditions into Viet Nam transformed the colonizers culture in the process. Even though the cathedral isbuilt in a Western architectural style, it has a uniquely Eastern aspect. The resplendent Governors Palace, completed in 1875, symbolized the regimes political power in Asia.

And five years later, the Duc Ba (Our Ladys) Cathedral was inaugurated, and became the spiritual and cultural crucible of the French presence in the Orient. Several architects put forward design proposals for the cathedral, but in 1877 the authorities selected Mr Bourard, who was famed for his religious architecture. He envisaged, and executed, a basilica-like structure with a square plan. The church is composed of two main central bays with two sidereal corridors, with tall pillars and light coming in through sets of high windows, and a semi-circular shrine.The style follows a Roman pattern, although the outside contains some modifications: the cathedrals vaults are Gothic, and a modern steel skeleton supports the whole building.

In 1894 a pointed minaret was added to the bell tower, at the behest of an architect named Gardes, who was also responsible for the Xa Tay Palace, the building that now houses the Municipal Peoples Committee. The cathedral is a lot smaller than those in France, but it was the largest in the French empire. The interior is very large: the principal shrine and two additional bays are 93m long, and reach 35m in width at one point .The semi-circular shrine at the rear seats a choir during services, and there are five chapels .The walls are made of Bien Hoa granite, combined with red tiles from Marseilles, all without coating. Red tiles from France were also used on the roofs, but they were later replaced with tiles of equal quality from Phu Huu. Natural light streams in through stained-glass windows which were made by the Lorin company from the French town of Sartre.

The whole building is well-ventilated thanks to a system of air-holes placed above and under the windows. The belfry is 57m high. For a long time it was the highest structure in the city centre, and was the first thing an arriving traveler would see when approaching the city by boat. The cathedral bells weigh a combined 28,850kg.In 1885, the floor was taken apart and new pillars were added, because the original foundation could not bear the cathedrals weight. Stepping inside the cathedral, tourists see a line of Chinese characters eulogizing the Jesus mother, "the innocent and unblemished Virgin Mother", and stained-glass portraits of Vietnamese believers amid Asiatic plants. On the square in front of the cathedral, there is a statue of the Virgin Mother made of white marble, symbolizing peace. All told, its an unusual building: a Western architectural and religious style that has been transplanted into, and adapted to, the East. The colonisers were trying to impose French beliefs and customs onto Viet Nam; but once that culture arrived on Asias shores, it took on a life of its own. The cathedral is seen as a unique synthesis, adding an unmistakable Oriental flavour to an ancient Occidental recipe.

Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda

Location: Vung Tau, Vietnam

One of the largest pagoda in Vung Tau, this pagoda attracts pilgrims from the whole country.

Niet Ban tinh Xa is also known as Chua Phat Nam or the Pagoda of the Lying Buddha. The pagoda is 3 km from town and sits on the side of Nui Nho mountain facing the ocean. Work began on the pagoda in 1969 and was completed in 1974.

This is probably the most beautiful pagoda in Vung Tau for its many intricate architectural details and the granite work around the pagoda. There is a flag tower standing 21 m high in front of the temple covered by ceramic tiles. Perching atop the tower is a Lotus, signifying Buddhist purity. There are 42 steps leading to the Lotus signifying the first 42 pages of the Buddhist Sutra which made their way to Vietnam in the 2nd century.

The main area of the pagoda is built in the likeness of the garden in which Buddha entered Nirvana. Here lies a 12 m statue of Buddha overlaid with marble. The gate of the garden is guarded by two gods, Ong Thien (God of Goodness) and Ong Ac (God of Evil). Standing in wait below the sleeping Buddha is the likeness of his closest disciples. To the rear of the temple is the boat Bat Nha built of concrete to signify Buddhism as a craft in which mankind can escape Be Kho or Sea of Sorrow. In the upper level hangs the giant bronze bell Dai Hong Chung 3.5 m high and weighing 3.5 tons.

Kings Hung Temple

Location: Phu Tho, Vietnam

Located on Nghia Linh Mountain, 175 meters by sea level, Phong Chau District, Phu Tho Province. Kings Hung Temple is a complex of majestic architectures that consist of Ha Temple and Thien Quang Pagoda, Gieng Temple, Trung and Thuong temples, and King Hung Tomb.

Ha Temple

225 brick steps lie between Dai Mon Gate and Ha Temple, which was built in the 15th century. According to the legend, in this place, Au Co gave birth to a pouch containing 100 eggs, which later hatched to become 100 children. Her husband, Lac Long Quan, led 50 children down to the coastal region to populate the land and propagate the race. Au Co brought 49 children up to the mountainous area. The eldest child, Hung Vuong, was left to become King; he founded the capital in Phong Chau and named the country Van Lang.

In front of the Ha Temple, there is a 700-year-old tree. It is in this temple where late President Ho Chi Minh had a talk with the soldiers on their way to Hanoi in 1954. He told them "The Hung Kings had the merit of founding the country. You and I must stick together to safeguard it.Trung Temple: Over 168 brick steps must then be climbed to get to Trung Temple. According to legends, the Kings Hung built the house as a place to rest and hold political meetings. It is also where Prince Lang Lieu presented sticky rice cakes (Banh chung and banh day) to his father the King on the occasion of Tet Holiday.

Thuong Temple

Over 102 brick steps from Trung Temple to get to Thuong Temple, where exclusively used for the kings to have offerings to the Sun God, the Earth God, the Rice God, and Saint Dong, a legendary hero, defeated the An invaders of the ancient Chinese Dynasty. This is also the place where King Hung, the 18th, abdicated in favor of Thuc Phan, who erected a stone pillar and swore to take care of the temple and of the Hung familys inheritance.

King Hung Tomb

It was the tomb of the 6th King Hung. Legend has it that, after defeating the An invaders, the 6th King Hung took off his clothes and left it on the branch of the kim giao tree and died on the spot.

Gieng Temple (Well Temple)

At the foot of the mountain is the Gieng Temple, where worshipped Ngoc Hoa and Tien Dung, the 18th Hung Kings daughters. It is said that the two princesses used to comb their hair and look at themselves in the water of this well.

Nowadays, the nearby public reception house, Cong Quan, houses the Kings Hung Museum, built to present numerous artifacts from the dawn of the nation when the Kings Hung founded and ruled the country.

Keo Pagoda (Trung Nghiem pagoda)

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

Keo pagoda is situated in Giao Tat hamlet, Keo village, Kim Son quarter, Gia Lam-Ha Noi for the cult of Goddess of Phaps Van.

Its history was said that:

Formerly, at Luy Lau land after people had casted four Buddha statues Phap Van, Phap Vu, Phap Loi and Phap Dien, they painted them but none of them could be permeable. Only when Keo villages a group of workers came to do, the duty would be finished. Then, some people of Luy Lau village intended to bring redundant wood sections but they could not carry them until two workers of Keo village touched it, micraculously, the timbered sections became extreme light and easy for carrying by only one person. Local persons thought that this strange thing could be a lucky sign, so they decided to cast a statue for worshipping. It was Phap Van statue of Keo pagoda a little smaller.

Keo pagodas architecture comprises three entrance gate in style of Nguyen dynasty, a four-roof-upper temple, inner palace and Tam Pham Lien Hoa tower, Mother-worship ping sanctuary. Especially, the pagoda is preserving the one thousand-eye-one-thousand-hand Buddha statue representing the art style of the 17th century and a tablet of Hoang Dinhs court (1616).

On the 21st June, 1993, Keo pagoda was very great hnour to be received the name Art-Architectural vestige.

Thien Mu pagoda

Location: Hue, Vietnam

Thien Mu Pagoda is situated on Ha Khe Hill, on the left bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long Village, 5km from center of Hue City. It was built in 1601, and then Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan had it renovated in 1665. In 1710, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu had a great bell cast (2.5m high; 3,285kg) and in 1715, he had a stele (2.58m high) erected on the back of a marble tortoise.

The name of the pagoda comes from a legend: a long ago, an old woman appeared on the hill where the pagoda stands today. She told local people that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the countrys prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang, on hearing that, ordered the construction of the pagoda of the "Heavenly Lady".

Several kings of the Nguyen Dynasty such as Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Thanh Thai, all had the pagoda restored. Phuoc Duyen Tower (at first called Tu Nhan Tower) was erected in 1884 by King Thieu Tri. This octagonal tower has seven storeys (21m high). Dai Hung shrine, the main-hall, presents a magnificent architecture. As well as bronze cast statues, it shelters some precious antiques: the bronze gong cast in 1677, the wooden gilded board with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chus inscriptions (1714). On both sides of the pagoda are a room for the bonzes and a guest-room for visitors.

The pagoda is surrounded by flowers and ornamental plants. At the far end of the garden stretches a calm and romantic pine-tree forest. The pagoda was heavily damaged in 1943. Bonze Thich Don Hau hence organized a great renovation of the pagoda that lasted for more than 30 years.

Built on a hillock overlooking the Perfume River, 4km southwest of the Citadel, this pagoda (admission free) is an icon of Vietnam. The existing 21m-high octagonal tower, the seven-storey Thap Phuoc Duyen, was constructed under the reign of Emperor Thieu Tri in 1844 and has become the unofficial symbol of the city of Hue.

To the right of the tower is a pavilion containing a stele dating from 1715. It is set on the back of a massive marble turtle, a symbol of longevity. To the left of the tower is another six-sided pavilion, this one sheltering an enormous bell, Dai Hong Chung, which was cast in 1710 and weighs 2052kg; it is said to be audible 10km away. In the main sanctuary, in a case behind the bronze laughing Buddha, are three statues: A Di Da, the Buddha of the Past; Thich Ca, the historical Buddha (Sakyamuni); and Di Lac Buddha, the Buddha of the Future.

For a nice bicycle ride, head southwest (parallel to the Perfume River) on riverside Tran Hung Dao street, which turns into Le Duan street after passing Phu Xuan Bridge. Cross the railway tracks and keep going on Kim Long street. Thien Mu Pagoda can also be reached by dragon boat and a visit is included in most city tours.

Nowadays the pagoda is very well-maintained and very welcoming to all visitors

Truc Lam Buddhist Pagoda

Location: Dalat, Vietnam

Truc Lam Buddhist Pagoda is located on Phuong Hoang Mountain, by Tuyen Lam Lake in Ward 3, Dalat City, Lam Dong Province. Truc Lam Buddhist Pagoda is located amidst beautiful natural scenery. This is the biggest pagoda in Dalat City.

The pagoda is covering an area of about 24ha with a Buddhist institute and a 22ha garden.The pagoda was inaugurated in 1994.

The Bonze Superior Thich Thanh Tu, who built and still manages this pagoda, is also the Buddhist dignitary of Thuong Chieu Buddhist Pagoda in Dong Nai.

Tay Phuong Pagoda

Location: Ha Tay, Vietnam

In Yen Village, Thach That District, Ha Tay Province, about 30km from Hanoi City. It is also an exposition gallery for many national engraving and sculpture masterpieces.

The pagoda was built in the 8th century and has been restored several times since. In 1632, the pagoda was rebuilt according to the Sino-Vietnamese character Tam (three), featuring three sections: the upper sanctuary, back palace, and lobby rooms.

After climbing 239 stone steps bearing the signs of the passage of time and sheltered by the shade of age-old trees one reaches a gate. The gate carries the name of the structure: Tay Phuong Co Tu (Ancient Pagoda of the West). According to the inscription on a 17th century stone stele it also has two other names: Sung Phuc Tu and Hoang Son Thieu Lam Tu.

In 1794 under the Tay Son regime, it was completely renewed, hence its present design. It comprises three successive constructions: the Hall of Prostration, the Main Shrine, and the Sanctuary, all with doubletiered roofs. It seems that this architectural arrangement is inspired by Buddhist and Confucianist thought: the three constructions symbolize the three forces governing the world.

The central construction has a directing role and is consequently raised higher than the others. It symbolizes Heaven. The construction at the rear plays the role of a foundation: it symbolizes the earth. The construction closest to the world of man stands in front. The whole structure is the symbol of Thai Cuc (the Prime Principle, from which the whole world derives). The double tier of the roof symbolizes the double principle, Luong Nghi, yin and yang. The slopes, the roof on the four sides symbolize the four elements of heaven, Tu Tuong; the sun, moon, stars and deities, while the slopes on the eight sides stand for the Eight Signs of the Sacred Octagon (Bat Quai).

All the wooden parts of the pagoda are beautifully sculpted following folk motifs: mulberry leat Ficus leat lotus flower, chrysanthemum; dragon, phoenix, etc. But the Tay Phuong Pagoda is mostly famous for the statues it contains, magnificent wooden sculptures representing Buddhas as well as Vajrapanis (Kim Cuong) and Arhats (La Han) who are middle-ranking Buddhist deities. One in particular portrays Sakyamuni in meditation at the foot of Tuyet Son (Snow Mountain). He was then leading a life of extremely severe ascetics, and his emaciated body, as represented by the statue, shows good knowledge by the artist of human anatomy. The figures of the Arhats each bear distinctive features which depict meditation in original aspects. All are impressive works of art.

A festival is held in the grounds of the Tay Phuong Pagoda in early spring each year. It features many games and entertainment: marionette performances, tug-of-war, cock fighting, chess with human chess pieces... The central piece of the festival is the Sam Hoi (Expiation) ceremony, held on the 6th day of the 3rd lunar month, which calls on all men to practise compassion and charity, to avoid wrong doing, and aim for serenity and quietude.

Tay Phuong Pagoda is not only an historical site with valuable architecture, but also a scenic spot in Ha Tay Province.

Mia Pagoda

Location: Ha Tay, Vietnam

Situated in Mia Village, Duong Lam Commune, Son Tay Town, Ha Tay Province. The pagoda was built during the Tran Dynasty (1225-1406) and still preserves many ancient artifacts.

Mia Pagoda is also initially called Sung Nghiem Tu. Several years later, Lady Nguyen Thi Dong, also called Lady Mia, had the pagoda rebuilt and renamed.

The pagoda has 287 statues of all sizes, among which are famous sculptures such as the statue of Buddha in the Himalayas and the statues of the Eight Vajra Deities. The largest one is the sculpture of Bat Bo Kim Cang located in the upper sanctuary.

The pagoda preserves many ancient artifacts such as the great red bell made in 1743, the bronze gong (1846), and the Lady Mia stone tables, set up in 1632.

Quan Thanh Temple

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

Quan Thanh Temple is situated in Quan Thanh Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. Quan Thanh Temple is one of the Four Guards of Old Thang Long. Quan Thanh Temple is an important historical and cultural relic, on a large and beautiful area by West Lake near the northern gate of old Thang Long Capital.

It was built during the reign of King Ly Thai To (1010-1028). The temple was dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vo or the God who guarded and administered the north of the country. That is why it is also known as the Tran Vo Temple or the Temple of Quan Thanh Tran Vo.

The existing constructions originate from the last renovations that were made in the 19th century; these renovations included the triple gate, the yard, the front and central worshipping chambers, and the shrine. A bronze statue, nearly 4m in height and 4 tons in weight, was cast in 1677 and dedicated to the Saint Huyen Thien Tran Vo.

Thay Pagoda

Location: Ha Tay, Vietnam

Situated at the foot of Sai Son Mountain in Phuong Cach Commune, Quoc Oai District, Ha Tay Province, and 30km southwest of Hanoi City. The pagoda was built in the 11th century according to Sino-Vietnamese character Tam, managed by Priest Tu Dao Hanh.

Thay Pagoda, alias Thien Phuc Tu Pagoda, was built in the 11th century during the reign of King Ly Nhan Tong. At first, it was a small pagoda managed by Priest Tu Dao Hanh. The pagoda was initially built according to Sino-Vietnamese character Tam - this character is formed by 3 hyphens parallel to each other.

The pagoda therefore consists of 3 sections: Ha Pagoda, Trung Pagoda, and Thuong Pagoda. The outer part, Ha Pagoda, is a place for offerings and ceremonies; the middle part, Trung Pagoda, is a place for worship of Buddha; and finally, the inner part is a place for worship of Priest Tu Dao Hanh. An automated sandalwood statue of Tu Dao Hanh that stands and sits is located in a red lacquered shrine trimmed with gold and covered with a curtain.

In front of the pagoda is Long Tri pond, in the middle of which is a stage called Thuy Dinh, where water puppet performances are held. Nhat Tien and Nguyet Tien Bridges, built by Doctor Phung Khac Khoan in 1602, are located on each side of the stage.

Interesting sites can be visited in the surroundings of the pagoda. For example, Phat Tich and Cac Co Caves are located not too far behind the pagoda. A hole in the dome of Cac Co Cave lets one see outside the cave.

Phat Diem Cathedral

Location: Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Phat Diem Cathedral is in Luu Phuong Commune, Phat Diem Town, Kim Son District, 130km south of Hanoi, and 28km southeast of Ninh Binh Town. Phat Diem Cathedral is the center of Catholicism in north Vietnam and also a tourist site attracting foreign and domestic visitors.

Phat Diem Cathedral was built between 1875 and 1899 four roofs and six sets of iron wooden pillars and consists of a network of ponds, lakes, churches, and artificial caves.

Phuong Dinh Church, part of the Phat Diem complex, is a giant building entirely made of stone. Numerous stone sculptures are on the inside and outside walls. A large bell cast in the 1890s weighing nearly 2 tons is found in the bell tower.

On both sides of the church are four smaller churches of different styles. On the extreme north corner are three stone caves. The most beautiful of these caves is Lo Duc Grotto. In the area surrounding this massive stone and wood cathedral, the rice paddies are peppered with stone churches. But, unlike these structures, built by Europeans and resembling typical churches of the era, Phat Diem Cathedral was designed by a Vietnamese priest, known as Father Sau. Father Sau rallied the local population to build the cathedral, five side chapels, three artificial grottoes, an artificial lake and a bell tower. Phat Diem Cathedral seems to have changed very little since Graham Greene described its gigantic pillars formed out of single trees and the scarlet lacquer work of the altar. Indeed, with its multi tiered, curling roofs and its 48 lime-wood columns - (the largest of which weigh seven tones), Phat Diem is a far cry from a European cathedral. Stone relief angels overlook carved dragons and the cathedrals two-tone bell is accompanied by a giant brass gong.

Local Catholics view the cathedrals survival as almost miraculous; a bombing in 1972 flattened two of the side chapels and caused the cathedral to lean by some 20 degrees. Despite the ongoing war, restoration started immediately and today, the only obvious trace of the bombing is the destruction of some intricate stone carvings. And on Christmas Eve, an unforgettable midnight mass, attended by thousands and accompanied by a brass band, is held in the cathedral grounds.

Ong Pagoda

Location: Hoian, Vietnam

Ong Pagoda is one of the typical pagodas in Hoi Ans old quarter.

It was built in 1653 and is dedicated to Quan Thanh De Quan (Quan Van Truong) , who was one of the generals in the three-kingdom period of ancient China. The pagoda has been restored many times.

Thien Hau pagoda

Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Built by the Cantonese Congregation in the early 19th century, this pagoda is dedicated to Thien Hau and is one of the most active in Cholon. It is said that Thien Hau (also known as Tuc Goi La Ba) can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to wherever she pleases. Her mobility allows her to save people in trouble on the high seas.

Thien Hau is very popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which might explain why this pagoda is included on so many tour-group agendas.

Though there are guardians to each side of the entrance, it is said that the real protectors of the pagoda are the two land turtles that live here. There are intricate ceramic friezes above the roof line of the interior courtyard. Near the huge braziers are two miniature wooden structures in which a small figure of Thien Hau is paraded around the nearby streets on the 23rd day of the third lunar month.

On the main dais are three figures of Thien Hau, one behind the other, all flanked by two servants or guardians. To the left of the dais is a bed for Thien Hau. To the right is a scale-model boat and on the far right is the Goddess Long Mau, Protector of Mothers and Newborns.

Du Hang Pagoda

Location: Hai Phong, Vietnam

Du Hang Pagoda is located at 121 Du Hang Street, Du Hang Kenh Ward, Le Chan District, Haiphong. The pagoda is considered an ancient architectural relic of the city.

The pagoda was built under the Ly Dynasty. It was later renovated in the 17th century by Nguyen Dinh Sach, an officer of the imperial guard who resigned and became a Buddhist monk. In 1899, during the reign of King Thanh Thai, a monk by the name of Thong Hanh expanded the pagoda and built a bell tower. The existing pagoda resulted from the repair work carried out during that time.

Inside the pagoda are several statues that are intricately engraved in the style of the Nguyen Dynasty. Valuable relics, such as bronze tripods and gongs, are also kept in the pagoda.

Tra Co Church

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

The church is a famous tourist attraction in Mong Cai town, Quang Ninh province.

In Tra Co, there is a beautiful church that was built in 1880.

In 1995, the church was restored to its form of 100 years ago.

Among it relics, there is a giant bell and hundreds of beautifully crafted sculptures.

Ba Chua Kho Temple

Location: Bac Ninh, Vietnam

It is said that Lady Chua Kho was a hard working woman.

After marrying the king of Ly Dynasty, she asked for going to Vu Ninh area, recruited villagers for establishing village, expanded the wasteland, organized production in 72 small villages.

She also kept an eyes on the food stock, maintained military provisions well during and after the victory of Song invaders in Nhu Nguyet Rive (Cau River) in 1076.

When she died, people built a temple to dedicated to her. Annually, the temple attracts a great number of people from the whole country to worship and pray for good fortune and borrow money from her in working of the whole year.

Chien Dan Towers

Location: Quang Nam, Vietnam

Located in Tam An Commune, about 5km from the city of Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province; 60km south of Danang City, near the National Highway 1.

Chien Dan Tower is a group of three towers built in the 11th or 12th century and dedicated to three deities of the Champa Kingdom: Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

Today, at the site of the Chien Dan Tower, there is a showroom displaying Cham objects, including many high quality statues, which are fascinating to visitors and researchers alike.

Most researchers classified Chien Dan sculptural works in Chanh Lo Style (11th century to early 12th century).

Ha Tien pagoda

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

Ha Tien pagoda, often called as Ha pagoda, is located in Dinh Trung commune, Vinh Yen town, by the side of the 2B national highway from Vinh Yen town to Tam Dao holiday resorts.

Ha Tien pagoda is situated on a precious geomancy. There is a marshy, two hillocks at two sides forming the shape of a blue dragon and a white tiger. This is a very nice landscape has ever been appraised by folk songs:

Seeing landscape of Ha pagoda

There is an one- hundred- meter- high tree flowers all four seasons.

The wells water of Ha pagoda is well-known for its clean, blue colour. It is said that if an ugly person bathed with this water could become as beautiful as an angel.

Is it true that our ancestors gave it the name Ha Tien as it was the fairy source of water?

Ha Tien pagoda used to be one of big Buddhist centers in Ly and Tran dynasties. It worships not only Buddha but Mother of Tay Thien Nang Thi Tieu and the Master of the mountains and forests. It is also place commemorates the visiting of Uncle Ho when he came to Vinh Phuc to visit Ha pagoda on January 25th, 1963.

Tran Nguyen Han Temple

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

The temple is located in Lap Thach district, Son Dong county, Da cai village. It worships commander Tran Nguyen Han who helped Le Loi to defeat the Minh invasor in 15th century. It was built on a wide, high and even land where used to be Tran Nguyen Hans estate. It has got an architecture of a Chinese letter surrounded by walls to shape perfect square.

There are other two ancient object: a sword and its whetting flagstone which related to the legends of the relic.

The legend tells that Tran Nguyen Han was in his youth when the Minh invasor dominated the country. One day when he was pouching in Go Rach field, the plough stuck in a bar of iron which looked like a sword. Since then at nights, he brought that iron to whet on a bright stone by the bank of the Son pond nearby the way to his house (now being the way to the temple, and the stone now having got its deep and long concave trace). The man always brought the sword with him. Accidentally, he met a raft owner in Phu Hau River and was given a piece of wood looked like a swords handle which came from the river. The sword blade turned out to be very fit with that handle.

The legendary sword was attached to the glorious victory of the first founder of the state in Le dynasty. The legend has it that later, Ton That Thuyet borrowed the sword and used it in Can Vuongs resistance to fight against the French enemy.

The flagstone, after a long time of being covered with the alluvium of Lo river, was found at the depth of 2m under the ground towards the Lotus river by Da Cai villagers. It is about 2.49m long, 1.6m wide, 0.4m thick and weighs 2 tons. This legendary flagstone was fished out by the authority and people in Son Dong commune and was put in the temple of the commander so that everybody can go to admire the remaining track of the hero.

Complex of Tam Canh Temples

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

The complex of Tam Canh temples includes three temples: Huong Canh, Ngoc Canh, and Tien Huong. It is located in Binh Xuyen districts Huong Canh town and belongs to the epoch between the end of 17th century and the beginning of 18th century.

The legend has it that while Ngo Xuong Ngap (Ngo Quyens son) was going hunting through the region, the mound which he rested over night revealed itself as a miraculous hillock. Considering this as a queer matter, the local people set up a temple and then made a communal house to process him into the temple to worship. Afterwards, the temple was as also dedicated to "six great emperors including Ngo Quyen, his wife, Ngo Xuong Van (Ngo Quyens little son) and his general.

Together with the majesty wooden architecture, the complex of Huong Canh are renowned by the engraving in interior decoration. All Dau du, Dau bay, Con nach and Con me are engraved by the techniques of flack-off and chiselling with free and frank style that created invaluable works of art such as "Raise the mast", "Drink wine", "Play chess", and "Sing about mandarins", etc.

With its architectural and sculptural values, the complex of Tam Canh temples is appreciated as a folk art museum of the later Le dynasty, one of the well-known places of interest in Vinh Phuc.

Phu Da temple in Vinh Tuong

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

Phu Da temple, normally called as Phu Da shrine, is an original and well-known temple of Vinh Phuc.

It was built in Le Canh Hungs times (1740 1786) by blue stones and ironwood. For extolling this permanent establishment, the masses of people say:

"If Phuù Ña shrine collapses

Please come there to get compensation”

Its has got an architecture of the "Tam" (three) letter including Cong tru, Tien te and Dai Bai arranged in order. From the entrance. there are 48 ancient sculptural works of high artistic values including two pillars, dragons, dogs, wariors, horses, elephants, lions, Quan tay, detention prisons, carved beds, stelas, worship thrones, civil mandarins and military mandarins.

The temple is dedicated to Lang Trung - Nguyen Thais server who was the Phu Da talent at both literature and arts of fighting in Le, Trinh dynasties. He was also the person who put all his belief and cause in the peoples with the phylosophy: "saving much money for children can not compare with teaching them well". He gave all his money and private establishments to the villagers and was written on the stone stela in here.

Phu Da temple is nearby the Hong (Red) river. The peole of the very distant past counted to erect the temple in the current location so that it would never been distroyed by floods. The history during these hundreds of year has proved it.

Bac Cung Temple

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

Bac Cung temple, otherwise called as Ñen Thinh, is one of the four imperial palace dedicated to Mountain God Tan Vien the leading god in Vietnamese mythology. (There are four imperial gods including Son Tinh, Thanh Giong, Chu Dong Tu and Lieu Hanh Lord Lieu) in Yen Lac districts Tam Hong commune.

According to legend, "Tan Vien mountain god went for a stroll in the region and pitched a fairy stick into the land of Thu Xa village. The land has become sacred since then and the people erected the Bac Cung temple on it. All dynasties entrusted general courts with royal proclamations to maintain the worship…"

The Den Thinh festival commences from every 6th of January. This is the relic which has got a really nice position and landscape distinguished in the center of Yen Laïc districts delta. It has got a crowded and joily scenery of festival which seems endless when spring comes.

Trung Sisters Temple

Location: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam

Trung Sisters temple is located in Ha Loi village, Me Linh district, Me Linh commune.

It worhips the first two heroic queens who salvaged the nation in 40 A.D by rising troops to fight against the domination of the Han dynasty. The Me Linh residents set up a temple in memory of the Queens merits. Every January in lunar calendar being the day that the Trung sisters sweared to sacrifice before the nations flag. The local people open the festival which attracts numerous pilgrims to attend.

Visiting the quiet temple, we seem to be penetrated with the glorious courage of Trung Sisters time:

Driving To Dinh out and pacifying capital

Founding the capital in Me Linh

Our nations imperial court is only in Linh Nam.

Van Mieu (Temple of Literature)

Location: Hung Yen, Vietnam

Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), also called as Van Mieu Xich Dang, and is located on a 4,000sq.m high land area in Xich Dang village, Lam Son ward, Hung Yen town. Van Mieu was built in the 20th year of King Minh Mang (1839).

The most valuable items on display in Van Mieu are nine stone stelae, eight of which were erected in the 3rd year of King Dong Khanh (1888) and one was erected in the 18th year of King Bao Dai (1943). These stelae were inscribed with the names of 138 distinguished scholars of Hung Yen, who had gained high positions at national examinations held from the Tran dynasty to 1919 – the last year the Confucianism examination was held in the country. Of the total 138 scholars, 21 were scholars of present Thai Binh province that used to be Tien Hung district of the former Hung Yen.

The highest-ranking scholars of Hung Yen were Doctor Tong Tran from An Cau village, Phu Cu district, under the Tran dynasty; Doctor Nguyen Ky from Binh Dan commune, Khoai Chau district, under the Mac dynasty. The locality’s highest-leveled mandarin was Le Nhu Ho – a duke of the Mac dynasty.

During the feudal time, at Van Mieu, the offerings to Confucius – one of the most influential philosophers in the history of China – were held twice a year, on January 10 and August 14 (lunar year). There were many mandarins of the feudal dynasties coming to take part in the offerings.

Before the August Revolution in 1945, Van Mieu was a hidden establishment of the central, Northern regional Party Committee and Hung Yen District Party Committee.

Van Mieu is an evidence to prove Hung Yen people’s traditional fondness of learning. In recent years, many traditional cultural activities have been organized at Van Mieu – a symbol of Hung Yen province’s culture.

Chu Dong Tu - Tien Dung Temple

Location: Hung Yen, Vietnam

The temple lies on a high hillock, which is an 18,720sq.m flat and rectangular area. The temple faces right the West and looks straightly to the Tu Nhien (Nature) alluvial plain.

The Ngo Mon (the Main Gate) has three doors. The main door – the largest and middle one – is a big three-compartment structure featuring two dragons flanking the moon on the rooftop. The door is opened only on great festival days. On either side of the main door are two doors used frequently to welcome visitors.

Passing by the central courtyard, visitors will reach Dai Te, Thieu Huong (Incense Burning) House, De Nhi Palace, De Tam Palace and finally the Sanctuary. Thieu Huong House has solemn, spacious, and high architecture. The upper rooftop’s endings and the roof’s edges are carved in details and are colorful modeled with many decorative shapes such as dragons and lions. The vong door at De Nhi Palace is carved with phoenix, huge blooming chrysanthemums and other kinds of fruits and flowers painted in vermilion and gilt. There are also special statues of Saint Chu Dong Tu and his wife, which are beautifully cast in bronze.

Today, Da Hoa Temple still preserves many precious relics, among which there is a pair of Bach tho vases (“Bach tho” here refers to one hundred “tho” – Chinese characters engraved on the vases’ body in various and different styles), which are valuable national heritage objects.

Temples and Pagodas in Phu Yen

Location: Phu Yen, Vietnam

Pagodas in Phu Yen has an ancient history like: Bao Tinh pagoda, Bao Son Thien Hai pagoda, Thien Huong pagoda, Chau Lam pagoda.

Among those above pagodas, in the 35th generation of Lam Te branch, according to the writing on the tombstone of Lieu Quan Monk, the Monk left his home at the age of six and stayed with Te Vien Monk at Hoi Ton pagoda (This pagoda was later moved to Son Tra mountain, An Thach commune, Tuy An district and changed its name to Co Lam pagoda at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is thought to have the oldest history in Phu Yen pagodas).

From the town to the countryside, from the coastal areas to the mountainous ones, pagodas in Phu Yen are plain in architecture, simple in the quiet, calm settings.

The concepts of the ancient monks in finding places for building pagodas aimed at prosperity and existence, their criteria were based on Fengshui. They used to find areas on the mountain sides or feet of mountains surrounded by mountains and water, open and clear: all sides of front, back, left, right were protected by blue dragons and white tigers. Some pagodas were based on people’s activities, in harmony with the public life to propagate their religion. These monks used to find places of low hills, gardens and fields among public housesto build their religious places. There are many kinds of pagodas in Phu Yen such as village pagodas, pagodas for Monks, clan pagodas, family pagodas. There are 74 pagodas in the whole province, in which Tu Quang (White Stones) pagoda in Cau Luong hamlet, An Dan commune, Tuy An district has been recognized as the National Level Vestige of History and Art by the State Government.

Buddhism and pagodas have appeared in Phu Yen since the opening days of the land and have made their own contributions in the spiritual life and daily activities of the communities, kept cultural identities of all the peoples in Phu Yen.

Thac Ba Temple

Location: Yen Bai, Vietnam

Thac Ba Temple or Mau Thac Ba Temple is on Hoang Thi mountain.

In front of the Temple is Chay river. Beside is Cao Bien mountain. At the back of it is Men mountain. The temple is at the height of 70m from the bottom of the mountain. From here, visitors can see the whole Thac Ba area and the lakeside area as well.

The Temple worships Mother and Gods who are attached to a story of princess Ngoc Hoa, daughter of the 18th Hung King.

The temple’s festivals:

Mother party (on 8th, 9th of the lunar first month)

Annual festival (on 10th of the lunar tenth month)

An Sinh Temple and Tran Tombs

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

The temple and tombs of the Tran Dynasty are situated in the An Sinh Commune, Dong Trieu District. They are scattered on an area of 20 km in radius, dedicated to the eight emperors of the period.

They were built in the period of Tran Dynasty and restored many times under the following Le and Nguyen dynasties. Apart from the building of ceremonial shrines at every tomb, the Sinh Temple was also built with many large shrines for the celebration of anniversary ceremonies. The whole zone became a sacred area held in solemn reverence throughout the Tran, Le and Nguyen dynasties.

Over time, the area has severely deteriorated, but today, is gradually being restored.

Sinh Temple Area belongs to Nghia Hung Hamlet which is used to dedicate 8 kings of Tran and the tombs of Tran Thai Tong, Tran Thanh Tong and Gian Dinh De. Tran Anh Tong Tomb is located in Loc Camp, Tran Minh Tong Tomb is in Khe Gach, Tran Hien Tong Tomb is in Ao Beo, Tran Du Tong Tomb is in Dong Tron, Tran Nghe Tong Tomb is in Khe Nghe areas. Besides the constructing the temple in each tomb for dedicate, many big temples were built in Sinh Temple Area by the court for respect-paying audience. It was defended carefully by mandarins. This area became solemn holly land through Tran, Le, Nguyen dynasties.

Cua Ong temple

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

Cua Ong, standing on a mountain top, provides a magnificent view of Bai Tu Long Bay. It is located in the Cua Ong Quarter of Cam Pha Town, 40 km from Ha Long City to the north-east.

The temple was built at the beginning of the 19th century, and included three main areas: the lower temple (Den Ha), the middle temple (Den Trung) and the upper temple (Den Thuong). In the lower temple, people observe the cult of the mother (Mau), while the upper temple is sacred to the cult of Tran Quoc Tang. Formerly, in the main temple, people observed the worship of Hoang Cau, a regional hero, but it was later changed to honour the third son of Tran Hung Dao, who was very heroic in the defense of the border in the Cua Suot area.

It was built according to the Chinese character "công" (I) which consists of a three-compartment in the Front Ceremonial Hall, a two-compartment in the Back Ceremonial Hall, and a three-compartment in the Back Santuary. This unique temple is sacred to the cult of the whole family of Tran Hung Dao. There are 34 statues and statuettes, elaborately and meticulously carved, and with striking engravings depicting various scenes. These statues are of: Tran Hung Dao, his wife (Thanh Mau), the two princesses (Tran Hung Daos daughters), Tran Quoc Tang, Tran Anh Tong, Tran Khanh Du, Yet Kieu, Da Tuong, Pham Ngu Lao, Le Phu Tran and Do Khac Chung.

The Cua Ong Temples annual festival begins on the second day of the first lunar month and lasts for three months in spring.

Tran Hung Dao Temple

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

The Temple of Tran Hung Dao is seated on an ancient silt bank in Yen Giang Commune, Yen Hung District, next to the Bach Dang River. It is situated on the site where he won the great victory of Bach Dang in 1288, the witnesses of which were the wooden stakes submerged in the water.

The temple is built according to the Chinese character "dinh" (J). Its Front Ceremonial Hall has three compartments, and its Back Ceremonies Hall comprises two compartments, and a Back Sanctuary. The remaining artefacts in the temple are a few parallel sentence boards praising the hero, eight finely engraved gongs and four royal decrees from Nguyen Emperors delivered to the wardens of the temple.

The ritual festivities of Tran Hung Dao Temple take place yearly on the eighth day of the third lunar month.

Tran Quoc Nghien Temple

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

The Temple is situated in an elevation at the foot of Bai Tho mount in the area of Ben Doan - Hon Gai, Ha Long City, looking to the sea.

The Temple is dedicated to Tran Quoc Nghien, one of Tran Hung Daos sons and a brave, talented general in our resistance against the Yuan invaders. He is also famous for his filial piety, and faithfulness. In memory of his great contributions to the locality, the boat owners who often pass by Bai Tho mount together set up a temple dedicated to him.

The Temple has a three-compartment ceremonial hall, and a back sanctuary. The Holy Mother Temple lies to the right of the main temple. Inside the main temple, the middle altar is dedicated to Tran Quoc Nghien. The other two altars on the right and left side are dedicated to the First Lady and Second Lady respectively. The Temple has a set of eight ornamental weapons, and various worshipping objects. It has undergone many restorations.

The captivating Temple is also famous for its sacredness. It has become a tourist destination in Ha Long Bay

Trung Coc Temple

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

The Trung Coc Temple is seated on a high earthen mound in the middle of the Dong Coc Hamlet of Nam Hoa Commune, Yen Hung District.

Long ago, it was built using bamboo and thatch as materials, but in 1807, was rebuilt as it is seen today. It was built according to the Chinese character "dinh" (J) which consists of a three-compartment in the Front Ceremonial Hall, a two-compartment in the Back Sanctuary. The temple is dedicated to national heroes Tran Hung Dao and Pham Ngu Lao.

The temple has two statues of Tran Hung Dao and Pham Ngu Lao, and still preserves royal decrees conferring honorable titles on the heroes. The ritual festivities take place yearly on the eighth day of the third lunar month.

Legend has it, that in order to build the stake-yard at the mouth of the Kenh River, the two men took a boat, but were stopped by an earthen mound in the hamlet of Dong Coc. They had to mobilize people, military men and fisherman, to come and drive their boat off the mound. To remember the event, after the victory on the Bach Dang River, the people built this temple on the site where the boat was caught.

Tien Cong Temple

Location: Quang Ninh, Vietnam

The Tien Cong Shrine is built next to the Cam La Commune Peoples Committee, in the Yen Hung District.

The ancient shrine was rebuilt during the third year of Emperor Gia Long’s reign (1804), and since then has undergone many restorations. The shrine is dedicated to the cult of the 19 founding fathers, who built dykes on the sea, creating the island of Ha Nam with its seven communes.

The shrine was built according to the Chinese character "nhi" (=) which consists of a three-compartment and two lean-tos in the Front Ceremonial Hall, a three-compartment in the Back Sanctuary. The carving alter, stone stele, parallel sentences which marked the Nguyen Dynasty.

Festivities at the shrine take place annually on the seventh day of the first lunar month.

Formerly, the island was a submerged alluvial beach at the mouth of the Bach Dang River. In 1434, 19 elderly people born in the Hoài Ðức District arrived here in search of a new land. They based themselves on the earthen roads above the water level, and together with the local fishing people, built the dykes.

Long Doi Son Pagoda

Location: Ha Nam, Vietnam

The Long Doi Pagoda is located at the top of the Doi Son Mountain in Doi Son commune of Duy Tien district which is 8 km north of Phu Ly town.

Doi Son is renowned for historical events. In the spring of 987, King Le Dai Hanh found a jar with full of gold in it when he was ploughing on the Doi Mountain . He, then, found a jar full of silver when he was pouching on the Bai Hai Mountain . He, as a result, named paddy field Kim Ngan, which means Gold and Silver.

The Long Doi Son Pagoda was built in 1054 and repaired in 1118-1121. It is an ancient pagoda with sophisticated architecture which depicts thoroughly historic landmarks. Annually, the pagoda opens a festival on March 21 of lunar calendar. On the day, local people and people from all parts of the country bring with them offerings to dedicate to the Buddha. They climb from the foot of the mountain to the pagoda in order to offer incense and recall Ly Nhan Tong, who was the founder of the pagoda.

Currently, the pagoda is being rebuilt under the orders of the Ministry of Culture and Information and the People’s Committee of Duy Tien district. The Doi Son Pagoda is, with its advantageous geographic spot and beautiful landscapes, a recommended destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.

Tran Thuong Temple

Location: Ha Nam, Vietnam

The Tran Thuong Temple locates in Tran Thuong village, Nhan Dao commune, Ly Nhan district.

It is said that the temple was previously the food storehouse of the Tran Dynasty and the place where witnessed fierce fights against the Nguyen Troops in the 13th century. The temple, which was built in 1783, is decorated with traditional architecture and worships Tran Quoc Tuan - the Grand Duke of General Tran Hung Dao.

The temple’s annual festival is held from 1st to 20th August of lunar calendar to recall the national hero Tran Hung Dao.

Currently, the relics area is being planned to be rebuilt into a religious cultural spot recommended to the Red River tour.

Truc Temple

Location: Ha Nam, Vietnam

The Truc Temple locates in Quyen Son village, Thi Son commune, Kim Bang district.

The temple worships renowned general Ly Thuong Kiet in order to recall the halt of his and his troops’ here when they were on their way to occupy the Chiem Citadel over 900 years ago.

Annually, the temple opens a festival from 1st January to 1st February of lunar calendar. At the festival, people enjoy the Quyen Son dance with folk song, which is a famous traditional melody of Ha Nam province.

The Truc Temple also locates closely to the Ngu Dong Son Grotto, Ba Danh and Thi Pagodas. All of them have constituted an attractive tourism area.

Tu Duong Nguyen Khuyen (Ancestral Temple)

Location: Ha Nam, Vietnam

The Ancestral Temple in which worships the Tam Nguyen Yen Do Family of Nguyen Khuyen is located in An Do village, Trung Luong commune, Binh Luc district.

At the ancestral temple, visitors will not only see the flat that the king granted De Nhat Giap Tien Si but also enjoy immortal poems written by renowned people. They can also walk along the bank of the Ngu Dieu pond for sightseeing or get some fresh air under shades of the trees to watch the Ngo Truc Quanh Co (rows of small bamboo), which is a familiar feature of ancient and calm villages in Vietnam.

Historic Epitaph of Que Lam Ngu Che and Temple of King Le Thai Tong

Location: Son La, Vietnam

Locating in the center of Son La town is a historic cultural relic, that is the Epitaph of Que Lam Ngu Che - the written document of King Le Thai Tong - a great talent.

In May 1440, after the King and his generals and soldiers defeated the enemy in the North-west area and took a rest in the La Cave or called Tham Ke by local people, he composed a poem named “Que Lam Ngu Che” and carved it on a vertical cliff on the entrance of the cave with all of his feelings about the peaceful beauty of the cave.

The relic was discovered in 1965 and recognized by the Ministry of Culture as a national relic in February 5th 1994. The relic proved a glorious history of the talented King.

After reading the epitaph, watching the water-color of Son La town, please visit Bao Ke Cave. You will feel cool and calm once stepping into the cave. Locating at the entrance of the cave is a deep pond constituted by broken stone. In the middle of the pond, there is a stone alligator trying to catch a quarry. On the bank of the pond, there are a playing stone monkey and a thinking stone frog. Walking farther, you will reach the inside of the cave. The cave is 5 meters wide, 20 meters long and 6 meters high. From the ceiling of the cave hang down stalactites which constitute twinkling lamps.

Leaving the cave, turning on the right and walking for 200 meters, you will reach the Temple worshipping King Le Thai Tong. The temple was built in September 2001 and inaugurated in January 22nd 2003. The temple is built on the area of 800 square meters with the traditional architecture of ancient temples of Vietnam.

Dedicating an incense to worship King Le Thai Tong and his soldiers, you will feel calmer than ever and forget your tiredness and sadness.

 

When To Travel To Vietnam

Good time to Travel in Vietnam is from September to June. However, Vietnam has three different regions – the North, the Central and the South – each with different weather patterns and different rainy seasons. This means that there is neither a best time nor a worst time to visit Vietnam. Hot summer or Cold winter is not that a big deal. Nice beaches such as Halong bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne - Phan Thiet or Phu Quoc Island are always available; Sapa and Dalat highlands offer great places for cool temperature. You can find your favourite kind of weather all year round for your next Vietnam Tours!

 

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