Vietnam is one of the most tourist-attractive lands in Southeast Asia which is famous not only for the untouched and picturesque natural landscapes, pristine beaches but also for its well-preserved structures through centuries. This country is also a combination of several beliefs such as Hinduism, CaoDaism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Hence, there are countless ancient pagodas, enchanting temples, shrines, and religious sites from North to South Vietnam.
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If you are planning your trip to this amazing country or want to learn more about the fascinating Vietnamese history and culture, just follow us to explore the secret of the top 10 most unique temples and pagodas in Vietnam.

1. ONE PILLAR PAGODA, HANOI

The One Pillar Pagoda or Dien Huu Pagoda is the symbol of Hanoi as well as one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples with the special design erected in the shape of a lotus flower - a Buddhist symbol of purity. 

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Ancient medieval Buddhist temple 'One Pillar Pagoda' in the historic center of Hanoi 

According to the legend, Emperor Ly Thai Tong of the Ly Dynasty didn't have a descendant for many years. One night, he dreamt to meet Quan Am - the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (the Eastern Lady Buddha) and the saint gave him a baby son resting on a radiant lotus. No longer after that, he married a peasant girl and she actually bore him a son. In gratitude for this, Ly Thai Tong built a pagoda in 1049, which rose from a single stone pillar in the center of an elegant lotus pond, resemble the image of the lotus in the Emperor's dream.

Open daily from 07:00 onwards, One Pillar Pagoda is free to enter all year long, though it seems to be crowded during annual festivities such as Lunar New Year and Buddha’s Birthday. Since it’s a place of worship, tourists are advised to wear a discreet dress code to respect the monks and locals while visiting temples in vietnam.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00 
  • Address: Ong Ich Khiem St., Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi 

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temples in vietnam 2Offerings of fresh tropical fruits to Buddha statue in One Pillar Pagoda

2. TRAN QUOC PAGODA, HANOI

It is no coincidence that visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the must-do things to do in hanoi. Existed for more than 1500 years, this Vietnamese buddhist temple has undergone several renaming throughout the years, from “Khai Quoc” (Opening a country) to “An Quoc” (a peaceful country) and after the reign of King Le Huy Tong dynasty (1681-1705), its name is "Tran Quoc" which means protecting the country. 

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Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam in a summer day

It is also regarded as the most ancient pagoda in Hanoi. Situated on a small peninsula on the East side of West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a sacred sanctuary surrounded by stunning scenery and once was a favorite amongst the kings and royal families for celebrating important festivals such as full moons and Tet Holiday.

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temples in vietnam 4The Main Entrance of Tran Quoc Pagoda

Unlike most Vietnamese attractions, you don’t have to pay an entrance fee in Tran Quoc pagoda, but donations are warmly welcomed. Dressing appropriately and remove your shoes are required before stepping on prayer halls.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 07:30 – 18:00 
  • Address: Thanh Nien, Truc Bach, Ba Dình, Hanoi 

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3. BAI DINH PAGODA, NINH BINH

Another famous Buddhist temples in northern Vietnam that you shouldn't miss is Bai Dinh pagoda. Built in 2003, this is not only one of the biggest religious sites in the country but also the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia.  

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Bai Dinh pagoda from above. Ninh Binh province, Vietnam

Covering a total area of 539 hectares, Bai Dinh pagoda is a complex of several giant temples such as Tam The Temple, Phap Chu Temple, Quan Am temple, 1 Bell Tower and over 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha. With fanciful scenery of the surrounding mountains and stunning worshipping monuments, this pagoda has been attracting thousands of tourists every year.

  • Opening Hours: 07:00 AM to 06:00 PM
  • Address: Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province

Suggested Read: Top 10 Best Things to Do in Ninh Binh for South African Travelers

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A beautiful ornate Buddhist temple. Bai Dinh Pagoda

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Bai Dinh Pagoda is a large pagoda complex known for its many Asian and Vietnamese records as the largest golden Buddha statue in Asia

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Bai Dinh Pagoda in the evening

4. MY SON SANCTUARY, QUANG NAM

Different from other Hindu temples in the country, My Son Sanctuary is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, a great Vietnam ancient ruins of the Champa civilization and is considered as one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia.

temples in vietnam 9My Son Sanctuary - One of the oldest heritage sites in Vietnam

Situated in Quang Nam Province and built with red bricks and sandstone, My Son temple complex is a large valley which is used as a place to bury some kings of the Champa kingdom and national heroes as well as a worship place of Hindu gods. 

It is also well-known as the oldest Hindu temple in Vietnam and often compared with other similar historical sites in Southeast Asia, such as Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Bagan of Myanmar, Borobudur of Java in Indonesia and Ayutthaya of Thailand. To enter this holy sanctuary, the ticket fare is 150. 000 VND per pax.

  • Opening Hours: 07:00 AM to 06:00 PM
  • Address: My Son, Duy Phu, Duy Xuyen, Quang Nam

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Unique sculpture on the wall of My Son Sanctuary

5. TEMPLE OF LITERATURE, HANOI

The Temple of Literature is one of the most famous temples in Hanoi, thanks to its well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture with a lot of historic buildings dating back from the Ly and Tran dynasties. 

temples in vietnam 11The central well at the heart of Temple of Literature

Established in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature is an ancient complex, a place to worship Confucius (Khong Tu) and was once the first university in Vietnam. The main focal point of this literature shrine is hundreds of Stelae of Doctors standing on the back of stone turtles that are erected to honor the names, hometowns, and attainments of Vietnam’s finest scholars. The entrance price of Temple of Literature is 30,000 VND for adults, 15,000 VND for students.

temples in vietnam 12The gate of Temple of Literature was recognized as the symbol of Hanoi

  • Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi
  • Opening Hours: daily 08:00 – 15:00

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Inside the Temple of Literature

6. CAO DAI TEMPLE, TAY NINH

Located in Tay Ninh, 100km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, Cao Dai Temple or Cao Dai Holy See is a wonderful shrine of Cao Dai religion (the 3rd largest religion in Vietnam) with the architectural mixture of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Confucianism, and Islam. 

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The Beautiful Cao Dai Temple on a sunny day

To explore all the mystery of this stunning temple, taking a Cao Dai temple tour is one of the must-do things in South Vietnam. The highlight of Cao Dai Holy See is its symbol of Divine Eye with a triangle and the Ying and Yang icon in its pupil. You are allowed to watch Caodaist's praying ceremonies and take pictures but knees must be cloaked and shoes must be left outside before entering the temple.

  • Opening Hours: NA
  • Address: Long Hoa Village, Tay Ninh 

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Praying inside Cao Dai Temple

7. HANG PAGODA (LY SON ISLAND - QUANG NGAI)

As the name suggests, Hang pagoda is a special pagoda located in a large cave in the northeast of Thoi Loi Mountain, Ly Son Island - the fairyland of Quang Ngai province. Built for more than 400 years ago, this pagoda is a complex surrounded with natural cliffs, comprises a large yard, a 'heaven' well, a lotus lake at the center and a big statue of the Goddess of Mercy overlook the sea.

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Hang Pagoda or Cave Pagoda - A Charming Architecture on the beach

Apart from enjoying the imposing scene, you can easily hear the sound of water falling from the stalactites while entering in the Hang Pagoda. Locals believe that praying in this pagoda will bring good luck and wealth.

  • Opening Hours: NA
  • Address: Ly Son, Quang Ngai province

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Stunning view from Hang Pagoda

8. LINH QUY PHAP AN, LAM DONG

Despite not being among the most ancient temples in Vietnam, Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda is situated in Bao Loc, Lam Dong, over 200km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is a hidden beautiful gem of Vietnam that is explored recently.

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Looks like Heaven? That's Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda in Lam Dong Province

Due to the special location on top of the mountain and its magnificent view in the early morning or at sunset, people here also call Linh Quy Phap An "A pagoda in the clouds". The hilltop Buddhist temple’s highlight is its mixture of traditional Vietnamese and Japanese architecture, especially with huge Japanese-style wooden gates erected to protect the holy site.

  • Opening Hours: NA
  • Address: Bao Loc, Lam Dong province

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Tourist sitting and praying inside the pagoda

9. THAY PAGODA, HANOI

Posited about 24km west of Hanoi, Thay Pagoda (Master Pagoda) is dedicated to Tu Dao Hanh - a famous monk in 12th-century, who played an important role as a master in teaching and healing the locals. People here believe that King Ly Nhan Tong was the reincarnation of Tu Dao Hanh. Therefore, this complex of temples near Hanoi is also a place to worship the fourth emperor of the Ly Dynasty. 

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Thay Pagoda - The oldest and most sacred one near Hanoi

Since Tu Dao Hanh is also the one who created wrestling and water puppetry in Vietnam, you can enjoy interesting water-puppet shows in a small stage built in the middle of a pond in front of the pagoda while visiting this non-Buddhist site during festivals.

  • Opening Hours: NA
  • Address: Sai Son, Quoc Oai, Hanoi

temples in vietnam 21Unique Bridge in Thay Pagoda

10. THIEN MU PAGODA, HUE

Located on the north bank the poetic Huong River in Hue City, Thien Mu Pagoda or Pagoda of the Celestial Lady is not only a well-known historic temple, the oldest pagoda in Thua Thien Hue but also the city's iconic pagoda. 

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Thien Mu Pagoda on a beautiful sunny day

There are three things that make Thien Mu Pagoda unique and you never wanna miss while visiting this pagoda: a seven-level Phuoc Duyen Tower, Dai Hong Chung - a giant bronze bell and an eight-foot-high stone stele setting on the back of a giant marble turtle (similar to the stele in Temple Of Literature). In particular, if you are want to relax and enjoy all the picturesque scenes as well as the tranquil atmosphere here, taking a dragon boat trip up Perfume River to sightsee the pagoda is not a bad idea.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00 
  • Address: Kim Long, Huong Long Ward, Hue

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Hopefully, this article just revealed to you some unique temples to visit in Vietnam, for more information and useful tips for your travel to Vietnam, feel free to check out our Vietnam Travel Guide.

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