Both Vietnam and Cambodia are known for rich culture, especially Buddhist-influenced culture. Vietnam temples and Cambodia temples are the highlights in your any Vietnam and Cambodia itinerary. In this article, let’s discover the most beautiful, most unique and mysterious temples where you either admire in awe, feel the exhilaration or shiver with thrills when hear the stories behind.
Most Beautiful Vietnam and Cambodia Buddhist Temples
Vietnam Buddhist Temples
Chua Tran Quoc – Most Ancient Buddhist Temple in Hanoi
Tran Quoc is actually the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, dated back to 6th century. The temple was the Buddhist center during Ly and Tran dynasties. Chosen by Thrillist to be one of the most beautiful and peaceful temple in the world and by Daily Mail in UK as top 16 must-see temples around the globe.
With its 11 level chedi, this temple can give you an authentic view to West Lake and surroundings.
The temple reflect beautifully the traditional Vietnamese Buddhist architecture and is one of the most wonderful places to visit in Vietnam.
- Location: Thanh Nien Street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Opening hour: 7:30 – 18:00
Chua Huong or Perfume Pagoda – Most romantic boat ride
Annually, Chua Huong Festival – the longest and largest festival in Vietnam – is held during 3 months after Lunar New Year. This is the peak time to visit Perfume Pagoda.
Perfume Pagoda indicates to huge complex of river, limestone mountain, limestone cave and several temples and shrines. Thanks to the spectacular natural landscape, Perfume Pagoda is considered as the most sacred worshiping place in Vietnam.
- Location: Huong Son, My Duc, Hanoi
One Pillar Pagoda – Most unique architecture
As symbolic as it is, to Vietnamese people, One Pillar Pagoda is more than a mere Buddhist temple. Built in 1049, One Pillar was made to express King Ly Thai Tong’s gratitude toward Buddha for granting him a son. The pagoda resembles a blooming lotus in a small pond, standing on a single pillar. Through the up and down of history, this temple was rebuilt many time but its original architecture and design remain the same.
- Location: Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Chua Bai Dinh – One of the largest Buddhist Temples in Vietnam
Bai Dinh is the perfect pagoda to go if you wish to be bewildered by the magnificent architecture and landscape.
Located in Ninh Binh, Bai Dinh is one of the best things to do, boasting a quintessence of Buddhism architecture in such scale which can’t be seen anywhere else in Vietnam. Built 1000 years ago, although has been through innovations and expansion in 2003, the old part of Bai Dinh is still kept intact.
Some records to day about Bai Dinh:
- 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
Location: Gia Sinh, Gia Vien, Ninh Binh
Chua Thien Mu – Beautiful Chedi
As the symbol of Hue together with Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda is easily one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in Vietnam. The pagoda is located on Ha Khe Hill, overlooking the poetic Perfume River.
The most highlighted feature of this pagoda must be the 7-level Phuoc Duyen tower, equivalent to 21m high with a royal Nguyen architecture. Coming here, you’ll have chance to see the daily praying of Buddhist monks.
- Location: Kim Long, Huong Long, Hue City
Chua Linh Ung – Ocean Guardian
If you’re visiting Da Nang Vietnam, everyone will recommend you visiting Linh Ung pagoda located on Son Tra peninsula. Blessed by a wonderful location, you’ll enjoy spectacular views over Da Nang city lying along the coast, especially worth seeing at night.
Linh Ung Temple is known to be the protector of Da Nang city and its people. The giant white statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is the most impressive feature of Linh Ung pagoda.
- Location: 574D Ong Ich Khiem, Da Nang, Vietnam
- Opening hours: sunrise to sunset
Jade Emperor – Obama’s Visit
Once has been the place Obama visited in May 2016, Jade Emperor Temple is not only known for the typical southern Buddhist architecture but also for its sacredness. The temple was built in 1909, made for the respect to a Taoist, also called the Jade Emperor or King of Heaven. Many statues inside this pagoda boast a diversity in sizes, shapes and meaning.
- Location: 73 Mai Thi Luu St., Dakao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh
- Opening hours: 7:00 – 18:00
Best Buddhist Temples in Cambodia
The Bayon – Hundreds of Smiling Faces
In Siem Reap – the kingdom of ancient ruins – Bayon is nothing like other temples. Built with an absolutely singularity in architecture, Bayon is an impressive collection of massive smiling stone faces of Buddha carved into the sides of towers’ tops. There are about 200 smiling faces which can be seen from all directions.
Come stand before these towers, you’ll have the feeling you’re entering a spiritual land and it might be hard to believe that it was built by the hands of humans.
- Location: Angkor Thom, Siem Reap
Beng Mealea – Treacherous Path
It’s no easy feat to reach Beng Mealea which is the most mysterious in Cambodia. Unlike Agnkor Wat which is pruned and prettied to the highest degree of perfection, Bang Mealea is half consumed by the jungle, covered in moss and falling to pieces. But it has created a certain appeal to Beng Mealea that no other temple in Siem Reap has.
Bang Mealea is a popular day trip from Siem Reap and can be crowded at times.
- Location: 40km east of Bayon and 6.5km southeast of Phnom Kulen.
Preah Vihear – The other Cambodia UNESCO’s world heritage
Angkor Wat is a UNESCO’s world cultural heritage, everyone knows this fact but not everyone knows the second UNESCO’s heritage in Cambodia – Preah Vihear temple.
This site offers a great chance to admire the remarkably well-preserved Khmer ruins with all of its quintessence of Angkor architecture. Dated back to 10th century, Preah Vihear was built on a lone hill 525m above surrounding plains, boasting such spectacular views of all temples in Cambodia.
- Location: 3 driving hours away from Siem Reap
Ta Prohm – The Temple Swallowed by the trees
Ta Prohm is not a stranger to westerners, this complex has appeared in the Hollywood movie Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie so chances are you must have seen the beautiful sights of Ta Prohm on screen.
A significant part of Ta Prohm is consumed by giant creeper fig trees but the tree roots are not powerful enough to ruin the compound like what happened with Beng Mealea. Instead the trees made Ta Prohm even more mysterious and beautiful. Every corner of Ta Prohm, in every moment of day is worth taking picture.
Banteay Kdei – Typical Cambodian Jungle Temple
This complex is rather quiet and peaceful, filled with fascinating maze of chambers. Banteay Kdei is neighbor with Srah Srang, making a great trip of watching sunrise. Built in mid-12th to 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII, Banteay Kdei has the same style with The Bayon, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan but less complex and smaller.
Banteay Kdei is a great alternative for Angkorian ruins if you want to catch a breath from the tourist crowds.
Angkor Wat – World Man-made Wonder
Angkor Wat is iconic and its beauties are just unbelievable. The significance of Angkor Wat lies right in the meaning of its name ‘Angkor Wat’ means ‘Capital Temple’ – standing as the epitome of Khmer Empire.
And there’re no surprise at the fact that Angkor Wat simply has become the symbol of Cambodia, appearing proudly on the country’s national flag.
Angkor Wat is about over 200 feet high, divided into several layers. This temple is the largest in the whole complex and is where the historic site gets its name. The central temple complex has 2,600 feet of bas-reliefs.
In the best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia, Angkor Wat is just too gorgeous to capture in your lens.
Tips for visiting Vietnam and Cambodia Buddhist Temples
- Do burn enough amount of incense inside the temple
- Do not take photos or use cameras without allowance.
- Wearing discreetly (no shorts, no mini skirts, no tank tops, no slippers, no hats)
- Do not use or take things without permission.
- Do not make loud noise.
- Pay respect to monks and Buddha
- Change money to VND when you want to donate.
- Learn how to greet monks with “A di da Phat”
- Do not walk in front of other while they are on their knees and praying
- Brings fruits and fresh flowers, not meat.
Best Itineraries for Vietnam and Cambodia Temple Run
Suitable for: first-timers, seniors, family, entrepreneurs
Activities: bay cruise, boat trip, city tour, temple visit
This tour is perfect for those who don’t have large time budget or businessmen and businesswomen going on a business trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. The tour cherry pick the best destinations of Vietnam and Cambodia, focusing in true cultural experiences of the place and the people.
Suitable for: first-timers, seniors, family
Activities: city tour, bicycling, boat trip, temple visit, boat cruise
This tour is just unique with its unexpected mix of classic and less well known destinations in Vietnam. Mai Chau is a breath of fresh air with the local ethnicity while Cu Chi tunnels is one of the most interesting historical landmarks in Vietnam.
Suitable for: Family, Honeymooners, Cultural Lovers
Activities: city tour, bay cruise, heritage visiting, boat trip…
This 14-day itinerary gives you a more comprehensive experience in Vietnam and Cambodia. This tour is just perfect for family vacation, honeymoon vacation and culture explorers.
Starting from Hanoi, the trip will bring you to all the best places to visit in Vietnam including Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong Delta. The highlight activity is the optional group tour in Hoi An for special experience. From Ho Chi Minh City, you will transfer to the capital of Cambodia by express bus. You will have a full day in Phnom Penh and two full days to explore Siem Reap and one day for optional trip to Tonle Sap.
Are you to ready for your dream like Vietnam and Cambodia holiday?
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