The Vietnam Book of Records (Vietkings) has announced the top 10 spiritual tourist attractions in Vietnam that attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists.
1. The Mot Cot Pagoda
The Mot Cot Pagoda (one pillar pagoda), which was built on a 4m high pillar with a diameter of 1.2m in Hanoi in 1049, is recognized as the most architecturally unique.
The temple was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. According to the court records, Ly Thai Tong was childless and dreamt that he met the Avalokitesvara Boddhisattva (Kuan Yin – Goddess of mercy), who handed him a baby boy while seated on a lotus flower. The Emperor then married a peasant girl that he had met and she bore him a son. He constructed the temple in gratitude for this in 1049. According to a theory, the pagoda was built in a style of a lotus emerging out of the water.
During the Ly Dynasty era, the temple was the site of an annual royal ceremony on the occasion of Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. A Buddha-bathing ceremony was held annually on April 8 in the Lunar Calendar by the monarch, and it attracted monks and laymen alike to the ceremony. The monarch would then free a bird, which was followed by the people.
2. Chua Huong (Perfume Pagoda)
Chua Huong (Perfume pagoda) is located in Huong Son (Perfume Mountain), 70 km southwest of Hanoi. Chua Huong is a cluster of temples and shrines in the general vicinity of Huong Son. The pagoda is 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 local beautiful scenery.
Perfume pagoda has a long history in Vietnamese literature. This temple has been a theme of many songs, topic of poetry, used in literary works as well as backdrops for paintings.
3. Yen Tu Mountain
Located in Thuong Yen Cong Commune, about 40 kilometres from Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, Yen Tu is a magnificent mountain in Vietnam with silky streams running around bamboo forests; green pine forests, and towers and ancient temples appear and disappear alternately.
Yen Tu region is well-known worldwide for its beautiful landscapes, historical relics and hundreds of ancient pagodas and towers, especially Dong (Bronze) Pagoda, with its peak at 1,068 meters above sea level.
King Tran Nhan Tong devoted his life as a Buddhist monk in Yen Tu after his abdication.
4. Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain in Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province. The compound consists of the original old temple and a newly created larger temple. It is considered the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam and has become a popular site for Buddhist pilgrims from across Vietnam.
The 700-hectare complex holds many records in Vietnam and also in Asia like the biggest Buddha Shakyamuni statue in Asia, the biggest bronze Trikaya (the three bodies of Buddhas) in Vietnam, the largest Ngoc (Pearl) Well in Vietnam, the biggest bronze bell in Vietnam, the longest corridor with 500 Arhat statues, and the largest number of Bodhi trees in Vietnam.
5. Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda (namely Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda), also known as Linh Mu Pagoda, is a most fascinating and ancient pagoda in Hue city. It is situated on Ha Khe hill, on the northern bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long Village, 5 kilometres from Hue city, which is easy to reach from the city centre.
The name of the pagoda derives from a special legend. Long time ago, an old woman appeared on the hill where the pagoda stands today, telling local people that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country’s prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang therefore ordered the construction of the pagoda. With this mysterious history, the pagoda has attracted a great number of tourists from inside and outside of the nation to come and explore the legend themselves.
6. Truc Lam Monastery
Truc Lam is a Zen Buddhist temple outside the resort town of Da Lat.
The construction of Truc Lam Monastery started on April 28, 1993 and ended in 1994. The inaugural ceremony followed on March 19, 1994. Two days later, Master Thich Thanh Tu made an announcement of closing the inner part of the monastery from the public, so that the monastic practitioners could practice without distraction.
With the goal of renovating Vietnamese Zen of Tran dynasty, the Master started to translate and lecture all writings and teachings of Truc Lam’s sect. Since that time, all monasteries founded by the Master applied the same rites and practiced each night the “Rite of Repentance,” which was written by King Tran Thai Tong.
7. Christ the King
Christ the King, of Vung Tau is a statue of Jesus, standing on Mount Nho in Vung Tau, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The Vietnam Catholic Association built the statue in 1974 and completed it in 1993.
It is 32 metres (105 ft) high, standing on a 4 metres high platform, for a 36 metres total monument height with two outstretched arms spanning 18.3 metres. There is a 133-step staircase inside the statue.
8. Ba Den Mountain
Ba Den Mountain is located 11km Northeast of Tay Ninh Town and 106km from Ho Chi Minh City. It is a famous complex of cultural, historical and beautiful sites covering an area of more than 24 square kilometres.
The complex includes three mountains: Heo, Phung and Ba Den, of which the 986meter-high Ba Den is the highest peak in the south.
Ba Den Mountain is also called Black Lady Mountain. According to legends, Ly Thi Thien Huong, Black Lady, was forced to marry the son of a rich mandarin while she fell in love with a poor man who was fighting the aggressors. Rather than marrying a man she did not love, she threw herself from the mountain.
9. Cao Dai Temple
Cao Dai Temple, also known as Holy See, is the centre of Cao Dai faith, an indigenous Vietnamese religion that incorporates the teachings of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism as well as some elements of Christianity and Islam.
The Great Temple was built between 1933- 1955 in Tay Ninh province about 90 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. Caodaiists believe that all religions are the same in principle and they credit God as the religion’s founder.
10. Ba Chua Xu Temple
Ba Chua Xu Temple (Lady of the Realm) lies at the foot of Sam Mountain, Chau Doc Town, An Giang Province. It is said that the goddess is so sacred that anyone who offers incense to her can realise all his/her wishes.