A country known widely for its freedom of religion, Vietnam has a variety of beliefs and religions. The expanse of its religious architecture glorifies the views and ethnicity of it; ranging from ethnic stilt houses, temples, pagodas, communal houses, and many other edifices. Despite being an atheist state, overall, Vietnam proudly and eloquently houses various religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, teachings of tam Giao, and even Hinduism. It is the perfect location for a visitor to feel closer to the construct of spirituality, surrounded by a myriad of calming, picturesque structures.

Following are some of the most prestigious religious places of Vietnam, showcasing distinctive architecture and outstanding details:

1. TRAN QUOC PAGODA

Witnessing an initial construction, in the sixth century, the Tran Quoc Pagoda follows the strict principles of Buddhism. It is located in the serene West Lake, adding to its intrinsic beauty. Not only does this temple prove its worth by being the most sacred place in Hanoi, but its unique and expansive architecture also takes away the breath of tourists as well as the familiar people. While the three-part Pagoda holds significant religious value, the most awe-inspiring part of this piece of architecture is its 11 floors high ancient tower. The tower sitting in the center of the Pagoda, along with the surrounding greens and the water is a purely tranquil space, one that exudes the idea of solitude and peace. Another point of attraction is the celebration of the Tet Festival in this temple complex. 

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The horizontal expanse of the Tran Quoc Pagoda. ©Hanoi Local Tour
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The vertical expanse of the Tran Quoc Pagoda. ©Vietnam Travel Guide

2. BAI DINH PAGODA

One of the most famous Buddhist temples in Vietnam, the leveled experience of the Bai Dinh Pagoda stands unmatched. Housing 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha and a complex showcasing the rich culture and timeless spiritual values of Buddhism, space offers a plethora of experiences on its lowermost level. But, it gets even better as one ascends the 300 steps of the imposing tower. The topmost level boasts of majestic views of the mountains, forests, and lush green hills. Adding to the entirety of this excitement, the complex is lined with trails for hiking through the Ba Chau Thuong Ngan forest. 

The tourist value of this place is enhanced by the presence of local monks, who tell the fortune of whoever wishes for it; in the backdrop of the ceremonies, rituals, and dances taking place on the Lunar New Year. 

The Bai DinhPadoga, sitting in the lush arms of nature. ©WhatsUpVietnam

3. CAO DAI TEMPLE

The Cao Dai Temple of Vietnam is the religious ground for the fluid religion of Caodaism. It is a beautiful representation of the belief of Caodaists, that all religions are the same. Hence, one should follow the combined teachings of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Judaism, Confucianism, and Zoroastrianism. Constructed in the 1930s, this temple is an architectural marvel, combining the Oriental, Baroque and Neo-Gothic styles; while featuring lovely, ornate decorations like seven-headed cobras, majestic pillars wrapped with dragons, etc. 

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A beautiful juxtaposition of various architectural styles throughout the world. ©Asianwaytravel
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The ornate details of the temple like the dragon pillars, sky blue ceilings, stained glass windows and colorful railings. ©Julie Around The Globe

4. MARIAMMAN TEMPLE

The Mariamman temple, known as the Chua Ba Mariamman, is a Hindu temple, built to commemorate the Hindu Goddess Mariamman. In addition to it being a beautiful location for the Hindus, housing giant, crafted statues of Ganesha, Lakshmi, Muruga, and more, its stonework and tranquil yet grand landscaping makes it a worldly attraction. Furthermore, it has breath-taking sculptures of the Amman goddess in her various avatars, making it the perfect place to learn more about the Indian culture and temple architecture. 

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Temple showcasing authentic Indian temple architecture. ©Trip.com
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Intricate Deity Detailing. ©The Travel Blogs

5. THIEN MU PAGODA

Situated on the banks of the Perfume River, the Thien Mu Pagoda is an exceptionally well-preserved tourist attraction, situated just 5 km. Away from the city of Hue. One of the most beautiful Vietnamese temples, this is considered the unofficial symbol of the town, playing a massive part in the country’s folklore. Away from the typical construction of every other Buddhist temple, its seven tiers depict the human forms taken by Buddha during his road to enlightenment. The arrival, in itself, marks the intense onset, with the wooden temple guardians decorated with real human hair as beards. The insides house the monastic buildings, a large cemetery, and a beautiful garden of pine trees. 

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The pagoda, resting comfortably alongside the Perfume River. ©Trip Advisor
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The seven-tiered tower and the monasteries inside the premises. ©Vietnam Discovery Travel

6. PO NAGAR CHAM TOWERS

This historic site is named after the mother of the country, goddess Yan Po Nagar. Now considered as one of the ancient Hindu temples of Vietnam, this is also a well accounted for religious site, of many religious buffs. It features the unmistakable architectural and artistic style of the ancient civilization at this very spot, similar to that of Angkor Wat. The structure is divided into four towers, dedicated to the goddess, with striking stone and brickwork. 

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The temple in the center of the four towers. Source:Trip Advisor

7. TEMPLE OF LITERATURE AND NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI

The temple of Literature and National University is home to the first university of Vietnam, with the temple devoted to the Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius. It showcases the typical traditional Vietnamese architecture, built out of wood and tiles; with a collection of 5 interconnected courtyards.

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Gateway to the temple of Literature. ©Viet Vision Travel
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The large courtyards and stone construction. ©Trip Advisor

8. YEN TU PAGODA

Yen Tu is a Buddhist center in Vietnam, known for its picturesque landscapes, and historical ruins and shrines. While it takes a hard trek, owing to its being located 1,068 M. above sea level, the views from the top of the mountain and the feeling of being engulfed in the clouds make it worthwhile. The small structure’s construction and details further add to this charisma, making it a well-rounded venture. 

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©northwest Vietnam tours
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The temple, despite being small, has exquisite details to offer. ©Metro Newspaper UK

9. MY SON SANCTUARY

My Son Sanctuary is a ruined Hindu temple, dating to the 4th century A.D. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and other Hindu gods and is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. It is lauded for its beautiful and intricate stonework, even today, despite having suffered massive destruction due to the bombing done by America. 

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©www.befreetour.com

10. TO MIEU TEMPLE

The To Mieu Temple complex is the place housing all the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. The complex consists of a large yard lined with Bat Trang tiles, with a huge and striking pavilion to its south. The north side of the yard is Adorned with the actual temple. The center of the complex houses the actual urns of the nine Dynastic rulers, marking their beauty. While this temple does not have a direct religious belief, the sheer beauty of the place is worth a visit. 

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Hien Lam Pavilion. ©Viet Vision Travel
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The nine urns of the emperors. ©Viet Vision Travel
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To Mieu Temple. ©Viet Vision Travel
Author

Currently in the fourth year of her B. Arch. course, Agamya Goyal is a voracious reader and writing enthusiast. Her curiosity in social issues, the simplicities of spaces, and its working with people are what help her garner ideas. Holding her interests in landscape, traveling, and poetic documentation, she believes that a well-brewed coffee is an exemplary companion.

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