Tourists must recognize the sacred pilgrimage site in Vietnam. This country is rich in culture and spirituality, with many sacred pilgrimage sites with a rich history dating back hundreds or even thousands of years. If you want to experience these amazing places, you should take advantage of our list below. Many sacred places are waiting for you to discover on your upcoming trip!
Religion and Types of Pilgrimage Places in Vietnam
Vietnam is a country that allows its people to practice their own religions and beliefs freely. However, over 80% of the Vietnamese population has no religion (Vietnamese Government Committee for Religious Affairs, 2018). Instead, they worship and pray to ancestors, following folk religion.
The two largest religions in Vietnam are Buddhism and Catholicism. Buddhism is the largest religion, with nearly 15% of the population (2018) and is the spiritual motivation for most Vietnamese people. Catholicism is the second largest, with over 7% of the population (2018).
In addition, you can find other religions such as Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Hinduism, Protestantism, etc. Buddhism is the largest religion in Vietnam
Due to the diversity of religions, holy land pilgrimage is also divided into different types. Tourists can visit temples, shrines, churches or many other sacred sites. Here are some main types:
- Pagoda: A pagoda is a place of worship in the Buddhist religion used for praying and spreading Buddhism. Pagodas often have a distinctive architecture with features such as bell towers, pagodas, or Buddha statues. Monks and nuns usually reside here to conduct ceremonies, light candles, and perform rituals and customs. People who do not follow the Buddhist religion can also visit the temple.
- Shrine/Temple: A shrine is built to worship a saint or historical figure revered like a deity. In Vietnam, the most common type is a shrine that commemorates the contribution of heroes to the country or the merit of an individual.
- Church: A church is a physical place used by those who follow Catholicism. They are built to show reverence to God, pray, and perform other sacred activities such as preaching, singing hymns, etc.
Top Sacred Pilgrimage Site in Vietnam
To have a fantastic holy land pilgrimage tour, consider the spiritual destinations on our list. You will see many buildings, and ancient and unique architecture, closely associated with the mysterious spiritual culture.
Tam Chuc Pagoda – Ha Nam
One of Vietnam’s top world sacred sites that you should take advantage of is Tam Chuc Pagoda. This is the largest temple in the world, meticulously built and invested with unique, ancient architectural structures.
Tam Chuc Pagoda has an area of about 5,000 hectares, including many unique and historically, culturally, and spiritually valuable architectural works. There are towers, Buddha statues, water fountains, lakes, and beautiful gardens.
Especially, Tam Chuc Pagoda has a vast and mysterious system of caves, including Thien Duong Cave (or Thien Dinh Cave), a place for worship and meditation. Here, exquisite decorative gypsum ceilings bear the characteristic artistic features of Vietnam.
Tam Chuc Pagoda is also the place for celebrating Buddha’s birthday, attracting thousands of Buddhists and tourists to participate. The temple is decorated with sparkling paintings, patterns, and lanterns on Buddha’s holiday.
The ideal time to visit Tam Chuc Pagoda in Ha Nam is in the spring, specifically in the first few months of the lunar year, from the 10th day of the first lunar month to the end of the third lunar month. This is the festival season with a cool climate. Additionally, visitors can participate in praying to Buddha for wealth and fortune.
Visitors to Tam Chuc Pagoda in Ha Nam can skip an entrance fee. However, you must choose one of two means of transportation: an electric car or a boat.
- Electric car: Ticket price: 90,000 VND/round trip per person (~$3,83) from the electric car station to the inner gate of the three gates and vice versa. Visitors can buy electric car tickets from the Tam Chuc Pagoda management board, about 5km from the temple gate.
- Boat: Ticket price: 200,000 VND/person (regular boat ~ $8,52); 240,000 VND/person (VIP boat ~ $10,22) from the boat dock to the inner gate of the three gates and vice versa. Visitors can take a boat instead of an electric car and explore and admire the small islands.
- Address: Ba Sao Commune, Kim Bang District, Ha Nam Province.
Huong Pagoda – Perfume Temple – Hanoi
Huong Pagoda, also known as Huong Son Pagoda, is a scenic heritage complex with many temples, shrines, and altars surrounded by majestic and pristine mountains.
The scenery here is beautiful, and many tourists cannot help but admire and enjoy it when they visit. For a long time, Huong Pagoda has been considered an ideal destination for Buddhists, especially during the festival season, in the first few months of the year.
The Huong Pagoda Festival is a grand festival that takes place annually from the lunar month of January to March (corresponding to February to April in the Gregorian calendar). Therefore, Huong Pagoda is the most sacred place in Vietnam.
To get to Huong Pagoda, tourists must take a boat on the Yen River and climb the mountain on stone steps. At the mountain peak, tourists will see the main temple, Huong Tich Pagoda, built on the Huong Tich cave. The boat fare is only 50,000 VND per person (~ $2,13) for the round trip.
Huong Pagoda is a religious site and a popular tourist destination. Tourists can experience the area’s natural beauty and learn about Vietnam’s history, customs, and diverse culture.
- Address: Huong Son Commune, My Duc District, Hanoi
Our Lady of La Vang – Quang Tri
La Vang is an essential sacred pilgrimage site in Vietnam for tourists. It can be said that the Holy Land of La Vang is a piece of land full of Mother Mary’s love. She appeared to the people in 1798 when King Canh Thinh ruled the country.
According to legend, in the 18th century, local officials arrested and tortured Christian followers in the rural area of La Vang. During the torture, the followers prayed and called upon Mother Mary, who appeared to help them. Later, a church was built in La Vang to honor Mother Mary, and it became an important religious site for the Vietnamese people.
Today, the Holy Land of Our Lady of La Vang has been rebuilt with many unique religious architectural structures. You can see the main church, a memorial monument for the martyrs, a memorial monument for Our Lady of La Vang, and more. In addition, the holy site has many religious activities and festivals, attracting thousands of believers from all over to attend.
- Address: Hai Phu Commune, Hai Lang District, Quang Tri Province.
Yen Tu Pagoda – Quang Ninh
Yen Tu Pagoda is one of the most important sacred places in Vietnam. The pagoda is located on the summit of Yen Tu Mountain, in the northeast of Quang Ninh Province, about 120 km northeast of the capital city of Hanoi.
Yen Tu is the oldest and most sacred temple. The temple, built in the 13th century, stands at an impressive height of 1068m above sea level. At the temple’s highest position – Dong Pagoda- visitors can see the majestic mountains and vast sea.
You can visit Yen Tu Pagoda in Quang Ninh at any time. However, the most suitable time for visiting is from the 10th day of the 1st lunar month to the 3rd lunar month (around January to March). This is the time for festivals, so Yen Tu Pagoda in Quang Ninh attracts many visitors from afar.
The pilgrimage journey to Yen Tu Pagoda is quite challenging but very interesting. Visitors must climb 136 stone steps and trek 6km to reach the summit. During the journey, you can rest at some resting points.
Nowadays, there is a cable car system to make it easier to visit the temple. You should take the cable car if you are in poor health.
- Address: Nam Mau hamlet, Thuong Yen Cong commune, Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh.
Bai Dinh Pagoda – Ninh Binh
Bai Dinh Pagoda is one of the 8 largest places of Buddhist pilgrimage in Vietnam. In 1136, Zen Master Nguyen Minh Khong established Bai Dinh Pagoda. With over 1000 years old, this ancient temple contains many cultural and religious beliefs of the Vietnamese people. This temple is uncovered in the Trang An scenic complex, about 18 km from Ninh Binh City.
Bai Dinh has many Vietnamese and Asian records:
- The tallest Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue in Asia
- The largest gold-plated Buddha statue in Asia
- The largest bronze Happy Buddha statue in Southeast Asia
- The longest corridor of Arhat statues in Asia
Spring, including Ninh Binh Tourism and Bai Dinh Pagoda, is the best time to visit here. At this time, the weather is cool; many of the trees bud, and flowers bloom. You can combine tourism and temple festivals to pray for peace and happiness for yourself and your family.
Bai Dinh is a famous pilgrimage, tourism, and spiritual destination, with beautiful natural scenery and unique religious architecture. One of the highlights of Bai Dinh Pagoda is the Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery, the residence of the Truc Lam Zen monks. There are also some water fountains and a large lake here, creating a tranquil atmosphere.
Bai Dinh Pagoda is also considered one of the important spiritual tourist destinations in Vietnam, attracting thousands of pilgrims to visit and pray. Here, you can seek tranquility, recite scriptures, and participate in other cultural and religious activities.
The admission fee to the pagoda is 200,000 VND (~ $8,52) for adults and 100,000 VND (~ $4,26) for children. If you rent an electric car, you will spend about 30,000 VND (~ $1,28) per person per way. This price is worth it to experience the scary sites thousands of years old.
- Address: Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province.
Cao Dai Temple – Tay Ninh
As a native religion of Vietnam, although relatively young, the Cao Dai religion still asserts its position with millions of followers. The temples of the Cao Dai religion have unique architecture, bearing their own beauty.
Cao Dai Holy See is a historical relic on Pham Hoa Phap Street, Hoa Thanh town, Tay Ninh province. This is a unique religious architectural work built according to the concept of Cao Dai religious architecture.
This work has similarities to the bell tower system in Catholic churches. In the center, the Tay Ninh Holy See is designed with a statue of Buddha sitting at the top.
The image of the Tay Ninh Holy See also evokes the association between the square of Earth and the circle of Heaven. These are also theories about the universe in Confucianism that you can discover more about after your trip to the Tay Ninh Holy See.
The Bat Quai Dai of the Tay Ninh Holy See has a similar shape to the Bat Quai Do in the Taoist religion. On the roof of this detail, there are three Buddha statues. Inside the Tay Ninh Holy See, the Nine-Story Tower is built with nine levels, from low to high.
Basically, the Tay Ninh Holy See combines many unique architectures from many religious works worldwide. This work also clearly demonstrates the tenets of Cao Dai religion.
This work with unique architecture harmoniously combines earth, sky, and humans. The Cao Dai Holy See Tay Ninh is a very sacred place to serve the needs of contemplation and worship. Therefore, the Tay Ninh Holy See is one of Vietnam’s ideal religious tourist destinations.
- Address: Pham Hoa Phap Street, Hoa Thanh town, Tay Ninh province.
One Pillar Pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi is a unique architectural structure in Asia. It has long been a symbol of architecture and spiritual life in the capital city. This pagoda was built in 1049 (the 11th century), by the first emperor of the Ly dynasty – Ly Thai Tong.
This pagoda is called the Dien Huu Independent Pagoda, which is commonly known as the One Pillar Pagoda because its structure has only one main pillar. The main pillar of the pagoda was built on a large stone slab in the middle of a pond and had the shape of a lotus stem, a symbol of purity and clarity in Buddhist beliefs.
In addition, the pagoda is adorned with beautiful carvings and paintings, creating a peaceful and sacred space. The details of cultural symbols, strongly influenced by Vietnamese culture, are harmoniously intertwined to create a preserved and well-preserved picture to this day.
The visiting hours for the pagoda are from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On the 1st and 15th days of the lunar calendar, the One Pillar Pagoda will hold Buddhist ceremonies for worshipers and visitors.
- Address: the park behind Ong Ich Khiem street, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi.
Notre Dame Cathedral – Sai Gon
On the list of holy land pilgrimages in 2023, the Notre Dame Cathedral is an indispensable name. It is considered Ho Chi Minh City’s symbol. The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the unique architectural works built in the 19th century.
After many years, it still retains its ancient and impressive architectural features as in the beginning. The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is Gothic style, with pillars, stained glass, and sculptures. The architecture of the Notre-Dame Cathedral carries the French medieval architecture style, according to the plan of architect J.Bourard.
With a spacious and airy space from the outside to the inside of the church, it has become a symbol of Saigon. In addition to its spiritual significance, the Notre-Dame Cathedral has significant historical meaning. It has witnessed many historical events in Vietnam, including the Vietnam War.
The Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral was used as a shelter and relief center for war victims during the war. Besides being a beautiful and sacred church, it is also a terminus for people who love architecture and art.
- Address: Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Advice for Visiting Holy Land Pilgrimage Sites in Vietnam
Each religion and the sacred place has its own rules and cultural practices. Here are some useful tips for your visit:
- Attire: Temples and shrines are sacred places, so it’s best to dress modestly, avoiding clothing that is too short or revealing.
- Footwear: When entering a temple or shrine, removing your shoes is customary to avoid bringing dirt inside. Also, be mindful of your steps to avoid damaging the premises.
- Quietness: Respect the sacred site by keeping quiet and avoiding excessive photography or noise. You should ask the staff or the managers working at sacred sites before taking photos in private and sacred areas.
- Tour guides: Most temples have guides to show you around. Pay attention to their instructions and explanations to learn more about the site’s history, architecture, and culture.
- Gift-giving: If you want to give gifts to the monks or nuns at the temple, ask for advice from the staff or local people. Avoid giving inappropriate items like alcohol or cigarettes.
In general, when visiting temples in Vietnam, be mindful of the traditions and customs to preserve the sanctity of the place.
Visiting sacred pilgrimage site in Vietnam
Visiting sacred pilgrimage site in Vietnam is an exciting option for your trip. However, exploring all the holy sites takes time. We hope our list and tips can help you have a wonderful journey.
Furthermore, the cultural diversity of Vietnam can make it difficult to choose where to go. Look for a reputable travel service provider to get advice from them. A well-planned trip with clear costs can ensure a fantastic experience.
A Thai Travel is one of the leading admirable travel agencies in Vietnam. The company specializes in providing professional and exciting tours for foreign tourists. All tours are enthusiastically consulted by staff, with transparent information and prices. The commitments and warranty services are also carried out in compliance with the law in Vietnam and worldwide. You can completely trust us for enjoyable, exciting, and safe trips!