Guest post contributed by Vietnam-made ALSO Home. The fabulous countryside and Temples of Vietnam has no shortage of beautiful and fascinating sights that reflect the cultural values that have maintained this country through many waves of invasion over the centuries. The lush landscapes, beautiful centers of worship and even the “badlands” of this country are fascinating to explore, and below are a few sites you’ll want to be sure and include on your list when visiting Vietnam.
1. Van Mieu – The Temple of Literature
(Image: Looking into the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) Hanoi. Source: ViviresFluir)
Located in Hanoi, this exquisite temple in the heart of the city is a serene oasis of beauty and one of the oldest structures in the city, built in 2070 to honor Confucius. Through the years it has become a place of education and essentially was Vietnam’s very first university. Visitors pass through the twin-tiered VÄƒn Miáº¿u gate which opens into a series of five stately courtyards that lead to various temples, classrooms and offices. It is in within walking distance of Ba Dinh square and features sites such as the “Well of Heavenly Clarity” and statues, artwork and literature dating back for centuries.
2. One Pillar Pagoda – The Perfume Temple
(Image: The One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi. Source: Thalling55)
Also in Hanoi is one of the most iconic Temples in Vietnam that was built by a grateful emperor who had remained childless until he had a dream that a bodisattva handed him a baby son while he was seated on a lotus flower. When he was born a son after marrying a local peasant girl, the emperor constructed this temple in the shape of a lotus flower in the center of a pond as a sign of gratitude for his good fortune. Although it was destroyed by the French in 1954, it was rebuilt in the early 1960s and still stands today and is a center for religious activities and civic events.
3. The Marble Mountains
(Image: Marble Mountains â€“ One of the five hills made of solid marble, in Danang. Source: Crowley)
Da Nang is the site of a the majestic cluster of five hills known as the Marble Mountains, and although not technically a mountain range, these five hills loom large in Vietnamese legends. They have actually been named after the five elements recognized by oriental scholars; metal, water, wood, fire and earth. All of these mountains have caves that lead to tunnels, some of which go all the way to the summit of the peaks. Many Buddhist sanctuaries are also located in these mountains and they are considered so holy by the Vietnamese people that it is now illegal to extract rocks from any of the Marble Mountains. On top of one sits the statue of the Quan Ã‚m Buddha looking out across the countryside.
4. The Ancient City of Há»™i An
(Image: Há»™i An markets, on the riverside. Source: Windle)
Home of one of the largest harbors in Southeast Asia, this city was a strategic site back in the seventh century and has maintained its charm throughout the years and was recently selected as the UNESCO historical site. Tourist enjoy exploring the quaint shops and open air restaurants, although modern touches such as Internet cafes are becoming more prominent. The city was once a divided town and a remnant of that is the “Japanese a bridge” built in the early 17th century and is the only covered bridge to have a pagoda attached to one side.
5. Minh Chau Island
(Image: Mihn Chau Island, Quan Lan. Source: Nqa)
Known as the “Lovers Island,” the name literally means Oriental Pearl, which is appropriate since it sits above the water is like a polished white pearl. Legends about this beautiful island say that the lush forest was planted there by the God of Forest who was moved by the story of young lady who lost the love of her life in battle and stood on the shores everyday awaiting his return until she died of grief. This beautiful island is a nature reserve because during May and July, the sea turtles spawn during the season of strong tides that sweep them are up on to the shoreline. Although many of Vietnam’s beaches have been commercialized and are crowded, this island remains wild and unspoiled, and a perfect place for lovers to woo on the beautiful sandy beaches.