Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist country. If you are travelling through Vietnam’s countryside and provinces outside of the urban centers of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, you will see thousands of sacred temples and pagodas dedicated to the revered icon.
In this article, we put together a list of the most famous temples – pagodas in Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam to check out what Vietnam has to offer. The temples listed here are among the most famous temples in Vietnam.
Top Vietnam temples in the North
1.Tran Quoc pagoda-The oldest temple in Ha Noi
Location: Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh district, Ha Noi
Open hour: 7:30-18:00
Tran Quoc temple is the oldest temple in Ha Noi, it is located in West Lake. In 1989, this was recognized as a historical cultural relic of Vietnam. Because of its beauty, Tran Quoc temple was also chosen as one of the most beautiful and peaceful temples in the world (by Thrillist). Daily Mail magazine in England also listed this as one of 16 best temples all over the world.
Architecture of this pagoda is ancient and royal. This was built in 6th century. Besides that, this temple was the Buddhism center during Ly and Tran dynasties. In the past, Tran Quoc was the place for many kings to relax on holiday, especially on Lunar New Year. There were even 2 palaces built called Thuy Hoa and Ham Nguyen. With its 11 levels, this temple can give you an authentic view to West Lake and surroundings. All characteristics in old time and Vietnam culture are reflected well through this beautiful design. In fact, this famous temple is a complex with a main tower at the center. The main tower has many big statues made by precious stones. This is really a must-see attraction in Ha Noi capital.
2.The One Pillar Pagoda-The most unique architecture in Asia
Location: Doi Can, Ba Dinh district, Ha Noi
Open hours: 08:00-11.30 daily and 14:00-16:00 Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun
The second in our top Vietnam temples is One Pillar pagoda. This is a feature of Ha Noi capital that becomes popular to all over the world. Since 1049, in Ly Thai Tong time, this One Pillar Pagoda was the place for Vietnamese to express their love and belief to Buddha. Nowadays, there are many families coming here to pray and ask for good things for their life and their children.
Being built because of a dream of Ly Thai Tong king, the pagoda reflects exactly the dream of Tong king then. One Pillar pagoda was built at the middle of a pool, so many think of it as a big lotus growing up, like the dream was. In the past, the One Pillar Pagoda was destroyed and the government had to rebuilt it many times. Until now, passing many years, the One Pillar still keeps its ancient design and architecture.
The One Pillar has gained much achievement because of its beauty and special archtecture.
- In 1962, One Pillar Pagoda was classified as a National Historic Artistic Monument.
- Moreover, in 2006, this was recognized by Vietnam Record Organization.
- On 10th of October, 2012, at Faridabad (India), the Asian Records Association recognized One Pillar Pagoda as the most unique pagoda in Asia.
Besides that, this special pagoda is located inside Ho Chi Minh mausoleum complex, so you all can both enjoy its beauty and get to visit Ho Chi Minh beloved president of Vietnam. This is really a must-see place in Ha Noi capital.
3.Perfume Pagoda- pagoda with best cave of Vietnam
Location: Huong Son, My Duc district, Ha Noi
Open hours: no limited
The third temple in our list is Perfume Pagoda. Perfume pagoda is among top Vietnam temples that none can ignore its beauty and fame. This is a Buddhism center and attracts many local people during holidays. To visitors, Perfume pagoda is really a great destination to try.
Perfume pagoda is a very huge complex, including many shrines and pagodas. This has traditional architecture of Vietnam, in harmony of natural beauty surrounding. To Vietnamese people, this is among top most sacred temples to visit. During its festival season, thousands of people come and pray for their families and future. The peak time for Perfume pagoda is from 6th of January to March ( lunar calendar). In the past, lord Trinh considered this as the best cave in Vietnam. There are many others who also visited and left their writting for this temple. You can find out writting of Xuan Dieu, Cao Ba Quat, Che Lan Vien. They are all famous poets of Vietnam.
Coming to this pagoda, you can have chances to adventure Vietnam culture with many religious places and even a wild and beautiful cave nearby. Huong Tich cave is among top 8 best Vietnam caves, and that makes Perfume pagoda become one of top Vietnam temples to see.
Tours recommended:Perfume pagoda 1 day
4.Temple of Literature- The first university of Vietnam
Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da district, Ha Noi
Open hours: 08:00 – 15:00, daily
Well-known as the first university of Vietnam, Temple of Literature was built in 1070, a long time ago. Until now, temple of Literature still keeps its position in mind of Vietnamese people.
The architecture of this temple is really special. It is a Confucian temple with 5 courtyards. Moreover, you can easily find out that many students coming here to pray and wish for their examination. They come from all paths of the country and want to at least touch the head of a turtle among 82 ones. More than that, Temple of Pagoda was the place where names of 1306 students graduating from university are carved. That is why it attracts many visitors, including local people. You can take a Ha Noi city tour 1 day to get a chance to visit this temple.
5.Bai Dinh pagoda-The pagoda of Records
Location: Gia Sinh, Gia Vien, Ninh Binh
Open hours: varies
Located in Ninh Binh, Bai Dinh pagoda is a great place to come. Although Bai Dinh pagoda was built more than 1000 years ago, it still keeps its own traditional architecture. During dynasties of Dinh, Tien Le and Ly, this was the Buddhism center. The architecture of Bai Dinh pagoda ranges from ancient design to modern one. There are 2 parts of this complex, including one built long time ago, the rest was built in 2003.
Bai Dinh pagoda is a famous complex with many records. Now we will name all of them.
- Asia’s biggest gilt-bronze statue: 100 ton
- Biggest bronze replica of Buddha in Southeast Asia: 100 ton
- The biggest bell in Vietnam : 36 ton
- The biggest pagoda in Vietnam: 539 hectares
- Having longest Pagoda’s Horn Corridor in Asia: 3 kilometers
- The complex has numerous statues: 500 statues in 2 meters.
- The biggest Boddhism temple in Vietnam: 100 statues
With so many records like these, Bai Dinh becomes a great name in our top Vietnam temples today.
6.Keo Pagoda – The pagoda of Legend
Location: ĐT220B, Keo village, Duy Nhat, Vu Thu, Thai Binh
Open Hours: varies
Keo pagoda was constructed in 1630 and finished in 1632. Being related to Duong Khong Lo legend, this pagoda attracts the number of more than 30,000 comers every year. With its more than 400 years old, Keo pagoda is recognized one of the most beautiful ancient pagodas of Vietnam.
The architecture of Keo pagoda reflects the architecture of Le dynasty. Being built with long roof title and stable ironwood, this pagoda is really featured for Vietnam ancient culture. The most famous part of Keo pagoda is the steeple. Keo’s steeple is located behind Thanh part. It has 3 levels and reaches up to 11,04 meters high. The frame was made of stable woods, which helps to keep the steeple still over time. At the first floor, there is a 1, 2 meter stone ceremony. The two big bells can be seen in the second floor. At last, on the highest floor, you can see other two bells made in 1796. With its many statues and artifacts, in 17th century, Keo pagoda was considered an art museum of Vietnam.
7. Yen Tu Pagoda- The way to heaven
Location: Thuong Yen Cong, Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh
Open hours: varies
Yen Tu pagoda is located on a high mountain, up to 1068 meters. This has a great position because it is close to Ha Long Bay, the UNESCO World heritage. After having a wonderful holiday in Ha Long, you can easily get to Yen Tu pagoda on a bus. It takes just more than 1 hour for the distance of 50 kilometers.
How to get to Yen Tu pagoda?
There are two ways to get to Yen Tu pagoda. The first and easy way is to use cable car. It is safe, fast and simple. But to many comers, they want to conquer the high temple themselves. If you are this kind of people, choosing step up more than 1000 steps. It may take you a long time, more than 6 hours. By this way, you can enjoy atmosphere, see many natural beauty along the way and check your health. Of course, it is a cheap way to choose.
Yen Tu pagoda is a great site among top Vietnam temples we recommend. It helps you feel the air and cool wind on a high position. From high mountain, you can even see many things under the mountain and feel how wide the world is. Many come here, both young and old, to enjoy the beauty and express their pray for future.
Top Vietnam temples in the Center
1.Truc Lam Temple – top 3 biggest Truc Lam Yen Tu pagodas in Vietnam
Location: Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Da Lat.
Open hours: 07:30-11.30 and 13.30-17:00, daily
Truc Lam temple is located in Da Lat, a must-see place of Vietnam. This is not only an ancient temple but also a beautiful site. Since 1994, Truc Lam temple has become popular to the world. It is among top 3 biggest temples in Truc Lam Yen Tu group. The architecture is special with 3 sects of zen and the area is up to 25 ha. In fact, Truc Lam’s design origins from China, the neighbor country of Vietnam. This pagoda was designed by a very famous designer at that time, Ngo Viet Thu, designer of The Independant Hall in Ho Chi Minh city.
Having a tour to Truc Lam temple, you can enjoy natural beauty of the two pine forests along the way. Truc Lam temple also brings you great view to look out to Tuyen Lam lake to enjoy great air ever. One more great thing for customers to discover in Truc Lam temple is Datanla waterfall and a carving tunnel. These two places are really charming and attract many travellers. To get to these two places, you just need to walk down, take a cable car and rest for some moment. All the interesting things are waiting for you to see.
2.Thien Mu Pagoda-The most beautiful pagoda in Hue city
Location: Kim Long, Huong Long, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue
Open hours: Sunrise to sunset
Located in Hue city, Thien Mu pagoda is a great place to visit. This can be in list of top Vietnam temples because of its fame to the world. Thien Mu pagoda has a very meaningful name, this mean “heavenly lady “ pagoda. This pagoda was built on Ha Khe hill. Not only being a scared place, this is even related to Nguyen Hoang, the first King having his hometown in Middle of Vietnam.
Being built in 1601 by Lord Nguyen Hoang, Thien Mu pagoda has become popular to many comers. With its ancient architecture, Thien Mu pagoda reminds us about the old time when Buddhism was prosperous. More than that, this place is really a religious site with many monks buried nearby the temple. Until now, not only visitors come here to adventure Vietnam culture, monks and local people also join them to learn and pray daily.
Phuoc Duyen tower
The most famous architecture of Thien Mu pagoda is Phuoc Duyen tower. This has a great height up to 21 meters. With its seven levels, Thien Mu pagoda can gives comer great view to look outside. Inside the tower, there are many Buddha statues. At third floor, there is even a golden one. From this tower, you can look right to Huong Nguyen temple, another architecture of Thien Mu pagoda.
3.Bao Quoc Temple-The important training center in Hue
Location: Lich Doi, Hue, Vietnam
Open hours: Sunrise to sunset
Bao Quoc temple is a center for training monks in Vietnam. This is not just a scared pagoda but an important training center in Hue city. In 1930s, Bao Quoc pagoda played an important part in training many talents for Buddhism in Vietnam. In 1935, the Buddhism elementary school was open. 5 years later, the Buddhism college was also opened. Now, this is the place of Buddhism academy.
The architecture of Bao Quoc is very special with the tower and surrounding. The entrance is also different from others with triple gated design. From the main street, you have to climb up many steps to get to the gate to walk inside. There is a very big and wide yard in front of the main part of the temple. To get to Bao Quoc, you can take a bus or taxi to get to Ham Long hill. This is not difficult because it is only 1 kilometer from the centre. You can enjoy Hue city daytime and then, later take time to discover this monk center.
4.Tu Hieu Pagoda- The pagoda trained Thich Nhat Hanh monk
Location: Thua Xuan, Hue, Vietnam
Open hours: sunrise to sunset
Tu Hieu pagoda is the last but not least in out top Vietnam temples in the Central of Vietnam. This was built in 1834, quite young but very famous. There are many monks living here, up to 70. They live, learn and pray for people all day. That is why you can hear the sound of their prayers at the same time each day: 7pm.
Story of piety
Tu Hieu temple is related to a pious story of Nhat Dinh monk and his old mother. It is said that Nhat Dinh monk tried much to help his old mother get over the illness. When Thieu Tro King saw that, he was moving that he changed the name of pagoda into: Tu Hieu
The most famous architecture of Tu Hieu pagoda is Eunuch cemetery. This is the place for burying many eunuchs during Nguyen dynasty. There are more than 20 tombs of eunuchs who donated their money for building this cemetery.
One more thing to note is that this is the place where Thich Nhat Hanh monk has learned and grown. He is not only a monk, but also a poet, a teacher, a social activist, and the one who advocated for peace of Vietnam. Until now, all the world know about this name, and that leads to the fame and effect of Tu Hieu pagoda.
5.Linh Ung Temple – The temple overlooks the sea
Location: 574D Ong Ich Khiem, Da Nang, Vietnam
Open hours: sunrise to sunset
Linh Ung temple is located in Da Nang of Vietnam. This has a great view which can lead you to a wide and beautiful sea. The name of this temple means to protect the city and its people. That is why it is very special to Vietnamese people living here. One more thing to care is about the symbol of the temple, the statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. This is about love of the mother giving unlimitedly. Many local people also come here to visit and express their feeling and pray for their families and children
6. Linh Phuoc Pagoda – The pagoda with unique mosaic architectural style from glass, pottery shards.
Location: Da Lat, Vietnam
Far about 8 km from Dalat city center to the northeast, Linh Phuoc Pagoda is located at No. 120, Tu Phuoc, Trai Mat, ward 11, Dalat city, Lam Dong province, Vietnam. Linh Phuoc Pagoda was built in 1949 and completed its construction in 1950 with an area of 6,666 m2. The pagoda is also known as the “Ve Chai Pagoda” for the pagoda was inlaid with pieces of porcelain which is relatively unique and eye-catching. Retaining the unique architecture, Linh Phuoc Pagoda has long become one of the famous pagodas in Dalat, an oner pagoda with this architectural style of Eternal Spring City.
Vietnam Temples in the South
1.Vinh Nghiem Pagoda-The most famous pagoda in Ho Chi Minh city
Location: 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ward 7, District 3, Ho Chi Minh
Open Hours: 08:00 – 17:00, daily
Vinh Nghiem pagoda is also among top amazing Vietnam temples. This was built to show belief to Gautama Buddha, as well as Manjusri and Samantabhadra. Until now, this is the most famous pagoda to visit in Ho Chi Minh city.
As the first temple to use concrete during construction, Vinh Nghiem has a unique architecture, which can distinguishes it from others. Although it is located in South of Vietnam, it owns Northern design and was built with modern materials. Vinh Nghiem has a great area up to 6000 square meters with the 2-floor center part. There are many places to pray, study, relax and read books. This is also the place for many Buddhists to come and learn about their religion. This is now the Basic school of Buddha, so it is a training center for monks and Buddhists in Ho Chi Minh city.
Vinh Nghiem festival is a big festival in South of Vietnam. From 12 to 14 of lunar February, many local people as well as others will try to come to visit this famous pagoda. On special festival such as Tet holiday, this is even more appealing. Ho Chi Minh people will wake up early and get to the pagoda, standing in line, waiting for their turn to ring the bell. This is the way to pray for peace and to get best things in a New Year. Because of its fame and its traditional festival, Vinh Nghiem is recognized a heritage of Vietnam.
2.Thien Hau Temple – The most ancient pagoda in Sai Gon
Location: 710 D Nguyen Trai, District 5, Ho Chi Minh
Hours: sunrise to sunset
One more temple in Ho Chi Minh is listed in this top list is Thien Hau temple. This is located in district 5 and related to a legend about love of Sea Goddess. It is said that Thien Hau was a very special woman. When she was born and when she grew up, she could do many magic tricks to help local people. They built this temple with a great hope of being protected by the support of Sea Goddess.
Being established in 1760, Thien Hau pagoda has Chinese architecture. Every material was brought from the China. In the temple, there are many antiques including wooden and stone statues, bronze statues and parallel sentences. All these things are very sophisticated. You can even see the ancient things from Can Long King dynasty. The decoration of Thien Hau temple is also featured. The main colors are yellow and black, which bring mysterious feeling to visitors. Thien Hau pagoda is located near Cho Lon market in Sai Gon, a very famous place to visit, so you can easily move your way to have a great tour during the time you are in Vietnam.
3.Jade Emperor Pagoda – The pagoda Barack Obama visited
Location: 73 Mai Thi Luu St., Dakao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh
Hours: 07:00 – 18:00, daily
The third in our top Vietnam temples in the South is Jade Emperor pagoda in HCM city. Jade Emperor pagoda has become more popular after Barack Obama visited it in May 2016.
Being built in 1909, this pagoda was made for respectation to a Taoist, also called the Jade Emperor or King of Heaven. A feature of this pagoda is that there are many statues ranging from big to small size and shape. You can see many of them along the way inside the pagoda.
There are many festivals held in Jade Emperor pagoda. You can easily see how local people express their worship in festivals and join them to take experiences. It must be an amazing experience in your trip!
4.Vinh Trang Temple – An east-west architectural interference
Location: Nguyen Trung Truc, My Phong, My Tho
Hours: 09:00 – 11:30 and 13:30 – 17:00, daily
Vinh Trang temple is located in Mekong Delta region. Being a part of My Tho, Vinh Trang really stands out to many other temples and pagodas. It is among top most beautiful temples in the South of Vietnam.
The architecture of Vinh Trang is really special. It is quite similar to India Raj palace, a very famous toursim site to travellers. Vinh Trang has many big statues of Buddha and a garden of beautiful flowers. This makes Vinh Trang temple more beautiful in visitors’ eyes. The architecture of this temple is affected by Eastern culture as well as Western one. There are many pictures and statues in the temples. All are decorated colorful and sophisticated. You can even see many images of sky, people and many others in the temple.
5.Cao Dai Temple – The “Vatican” of Caodaism
Location: Long Thanh Bac Commune, Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh
Hours: 06:00 – 18:00, daily
Cao Dai is the name of a famous religion campain in 1920. Cao Dai temple is considered the “Vatican” of Caodaism. This place was built to express their worship to their Taoist, Buddha, Confucius and Jesus. Many people come here every year and they can pray as well as learn more about their religion.
The construction of Cao Dai took a long time from 1933 to 1955 to end up. It is more than 40 meters in width and 100 meters in length with 12 gates. The architecture is featured by its unique decoration. You can see it is really different to many traditional temples of Vietnam. In the temple, there are many statues and patterns carved carefully and skilfully. There is even a Bodhi tree, a gift of Venerable Thera Narada brought from India. Cao Dai temple has two main towers, both in Catholic style. The symbol of this temple is the Divine Eye.
Tips for visiting temples in Vietnam
1.Do not burn insence much inside the temples.
2.Do not take photos or use cameras without allowance.
4.Do not use or take things without permission.
5.Do not make noise.
6.Pay your respectation to monks and Buddha
7.Prepare change money to use when you want to pray.
8.Learn how to greet monks with “A di da Phat”
9.Do not walk in front of other while they are on their knees and praying
10.Do not sit or stand at the centre of the pagodas and temples.
11.Brings fruits and fresh flowers, not meat.
With our top Vietnam temples and pagodas recommended, we make sure that you can get a great tour ever. Please feel free to contact us. We are willing to help and answer all.