Visiting Vietnamese pagodas is one of the best activities in a Vietnam travel plan. Vietnam pagodas and temples can be considered time capsules that carry the long-lasting cultural and historical traits of the different regions of the country. There are numerous pagodas across the country in different scales, and here are 13 of the most prominent ones.
1. Top 5 sacred and renowned Vietnamese pagodas in the North
Northern Vietnam is home to many Vietnamese pagodas, with some of them having become world-renowned symbols of the country.
1.1. Yen Tu Pagoda – One of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam
- Address: Nam Mau village, Thuong Yen Cong commune, Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province
Yen Tu Pagoda is located at the top of Yen Tu mountain range, a vantage point to feast one’s eyes upon the breathtaking view of the otherworldly scenery intertwining with the clouds.
The pagoda is loved by both locals and tourists thanks to not only the beautiful views surrounding it but also its architecture. Yen Tu Pagoda was built entirely of copper in a traditional Buddhist architectural style. The artifacts, the Buddha statue, bells, and the well that never runs dry here, are also made of the same material.
The best time to visit this pagoda is from the first to the third lunar month, as you can take part in the historical Yen Tu festival with many Vietnamese buddhists. Yen Tu Pagoda is an iconic destination of Quang Ninh alongside Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site.
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1.2. One Pillar Pagoda – Hanoi's pagoda with unique architecture
- Address: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi
One Pillar Pagoda in Vietnam is one of the most symbolic and prominent tourist attractions in any Hanoi travel plan. One Pillar Pagoda is in a world of its own compared to other Vietnamese pagodas in terms of architecture. It is situated in the middle of a lotus pond while taking on the shape of a lotus flower itself.
This architectural design was prompted by a dream of Emperor Ly Thai Tong, in which he was invited to a lotus seat by Quan Am Bo Tat. One Pillar Pagoda has a significant place in the culture of Vietnam. It is also a symbol of the history and religious life of Hanoi.
1.3. Perfume Pagoda – One of the must-visit pagodas in the North
- Address: Huong Son commune, My Duc district, 62 kilometers away from the center of Hanoi
When you travel to Northern Vietnam, Perfume Pagoda is a destination not to be missed out on, as it brings a full package cultural experience. In fact, instead of being just one pagoda, this is a culture and religion complex with dozens of ancient Vietnamese pagodas and temples of many sizes and scales. Here, you can immerse yourself in nature and the sacred atmosphere.
You can spend time sitting on a boat and let loose with the calming flow of the stream. You can also taste some of the region’s specialties during your visit here.
The best time to visit Perfume Pagoda is during Tet Holiday, when the local festival takes place. This is your chance to join the festivities with the locals and visit the pagodas and temples to pray for blessings.
1.4. Tam Chuc Pagoda – The world's largest pagoda located in Vietnam
- Address: Ba Sao commune, Kim Bang district, Ha Nam province
Tam Chuc Pagoda, Ha Nam is the biggest pagoda in Vietnam and the world so far. Its majestic structure alone should be a good enough reason for any tourist to pay this pagoda a visit and take some pictures.
Aside from the 5,000-hectare area, Tam Chuc Pagoda is not that different from any other Northern Vietnam pagoda. It has the traditional Buddhist architecture with spectacular artifacts and carvings.
The pagoda also has a few works that you may be interested to see like Quan Am Temple, the garden of scripture pillars, and many more.
1.5. Bai Dinh Pagoda – One of the most prominent Vietnamese pagodas
- Address: Gia Sinh commune, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province
Bai Dinh Pagoda is one of the most well-known pagodas in the country for all the records it holds. It was once the biggest pagoda in Vietnam before Tam Chuc Pagoda. Additionally, it holds another 3 records, as it has the tallest pagoda tower in Southeast Asia, the longest Arhat hallway, and the biggest golden Buddha statue in Asia.
Visiting Bai Dinh pagoda, remember to check out the ancient and new complexes, as both contain meticulous works from two distinctive eras.
2. List of the top well-known pagodas in Central Vietnam
Moving on to Central Vietnam, there are four notable Vietnamese pagodas for you to explore in this historical region of the country.
2.1. Linh Ung Pagoda – One of the biggest Vietnamese Buddhist pagodas
- Address: Son Tra Peninsula, Da Nang
Da Nang is a gem of a city for tourism. One of the most sought-after areas of Da Nang is the gorgeous Son Tra Peninsula.
This gorgeous peninsula is home to a historical Vietnamese pagoda, Linh Ung Pagoda. Here, the scenery is absolutely amazing.
The pagoda’s architecture is also gorgeous. With emerald green as the primary color, Linh Ung Pagoda blends in well with the forest and sea around it. Its location and atmosphere makes it an ideal place for tourists to unwind.
The most notable work in the pagoda is the 67-meter-tall Quan Am Bo Tat statue. This majestic statue can be seen from anywhere in Da Nang, which makes Linh Ung Pagoda the most popular destination of all the Vietnamese pagodas in the city.
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2.2. Thien Mu Pagoda – One of the most beautiful Vietnamese pagodas
- Address: No. 140 - 142, Nguyen Phuc Nguyen street, Ha Khe hill, Hue
This pagoda sits right next to the romantic Perfume River, perfectly accentuating its untouched beauty. It is also surrounded by a refreshing shade of green from the trees, creating a captivating setting for visitors.
In terms of architecture, the main attraction of Thien Mu Pagoda is Phuoc Duyen Tower, with each of its storey dedicated to one Buddha.
>>> Read more about Hue pagodas and their historical values!
2.3. Long Son Pagoda – The pagoda with the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam
- Address: No. 22, 23/10 street, Phuong Son ward, Nha Trang
The oldest temple in Nha Trang, Long Son Pagoda is a special attraction of this coastal city. It has another name, White Buddha Pagoda, due to the magnificent works that you will get to observe during your visit.
The White Gautama Buddha statue here is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the biggest outdoor Buddha statue in Vietnam. There is also a marble sculpture of Buddha with the 49 students here.
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2.4. Cau Pagoda (Japanese Covered Bridge) in Hoi An
- Address: No. 186, Tran Phu street, Minh An ward, Hoi An
Japanese Bridge is also called Cau Pagoda, which directly translates to Bridge Pagoda. That is exactly what it is.
Unlike other grandiose Vietnamese pagodas, this one is a humble wooden temple sitting on a wooden bridge. It is the mysterious and reclusive vibe that makes this place so memorable, as it perfectly captures the atmosphere of Hoi An. It was named Japanese Bridge because it was mainly built by Japanese people and somewhat influenced by their culture, as shown by its architectural style.
There are two special facts that sets Cau Pagoda apart from other Vietnamese pagodas.
Firstly, this place worships the deity Bac De Tran Vo instead of Buddha. This is the god of happiness, fortune, and health according to the locals’ belief, which makes this place a significant spiritual destination.
Secondly, Cau Pagoda is one of the two pagodas featured on Vietnamese banknotes, alongside One Pillar Pagoda Hanoi. It is on the back of a 20,000 VND bill, which solidifies its position as a historical site.
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3. What are the most famous Vietnamese pagodas in the South?
The South of Vietnam is influenced by many different cultures, which brings about many noteworthy Vietnamese pagodas.
3.1. Ho Quoc Pagoda – The largest pagoda in Phu Quoc Island
- Address: Suoi Lon hamlet, Duong To commune, Phu Quoc island, Kien Giang province
An alluring view of the island and the deep blue sea is a guarantee when you visit this temple. Ho Quoc Pagoda also has the traditional Buddhist architecture like other Vietnamese pagodas, along with magnificent works and artifacts. Those include Tam Quan gate, Thien Quang courtyard, a bell tower, a drum tower, a marble Buddha statue, and a dragon and phoenix sculpture behind the statue.
Ho Quoc Pagoda is much more than a beautiful attraction. The meaning of its name is “defending the country”, signifying its major role in the local culture as a place of worship and symbol of the island.
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3.2. Thien Hau Pagoda – A highly recommended attraction for spiritual tourism
- Address: No. 170, Nguyen Trai street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Unlike other Vietnamese pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City, this pagoda is heavily influenced by Chinese features. It is located in District 5, an area with a dense Chinese population. Also, this place worships Mazu, a Chinese deity.
That influence also translates to the architectural style. Thien Hau Pagoda has distinctive ancient Chinese architecture, which creates a solemn, majestic, and peaceful atmosphere.
The artifacts of the pagoda are kept in their best condition after many renovations, making Thien Hau Pagoda a very worthwhile addition to your travel journey.
3.3. Ba Den Pagoda – A pagoda located on the Roof of Southern Vietnam
- Address: Ba Den mountain, Thanh Tan commune, 8 kilometers away from the center of Tay Ninh
Ba Den Pagoda of Tay Ninh is arguably the most popular spiritual destination in Southern Vietnam. It is the most prominent one of all the Vietnamese pagodas in Tay Ninh and located at the highest mountain of Southern Vietnam.
This pagoda is widely regarded to be a very sacred place of worship. This is why Ba Den Pagoda usually welcomes loads of visitors during holidays and important religious ceremonies.
Visiting Ba Den Pagoda brings an exciting tourism experience, as there are loads of activities you can try here, like hiking, camping, riding aerial tramway, etc.
3.4. Ba Chua Xu Pagoda – An attractive spiritual destination in An Giang
- Address: At the foot of Sam mountain, Nui Sam ward, Chau Doc city, An Giang province
Ba Chua Xu Pagoda is a legendary spiritual destination in the Mekong Delta region. There are numerous stories about the origin of this pagoda, though none has been confirmed. The architecture of Ba Chua Xu Pagoda is absolutely spectacular, as it occupies a vast area and every building is beautifully decorated.
Aside from the 13 Vietnamese pagodas listed above, there are countless other pagodas and temples for you to visit on your Vietnam trip. Some of them are the Vietnamese National Buddhist Temple in Ho Chi Minh City, Bao Lam Pagoda in Phu Yen, Phap Lam Pagoda in Da Nang, Red Temple in Hai Phong, and many more.
Vietnamese pagodas are important religious, historical, and cultural destinations of Vietnam. There are countless options for you to choose from, depending on which region you are traveling to. These thirteen pagodas and temples are only some of the most prominent witnesses of Vietnam’s fruitful history and diverse culture. Visiting these attractions will allow you to enjoy the architecture and learn more about the local culture.