In Vietnam, the first month of the Lunar New Year is the perfect time to make pilgrimage trips to pagodas and temples throughout the country to pray for happiness, good luck and prosperity in the year ahead. Following are a couple of places worth visiting during the Lunar New Year (Tet), Vietnam’s biggest and longest holiday.
Yen Tu Mountain, Quang Ninh Province
Yen Tu Mountain in the northern province of Quang Ninh is known as the holy land of Vietnamese Buddhism and has attracted thousands of pilgrims during the first lunar month, who wish to find peace of mind and relax in a state of meditation after a hard-working and stressful year.
For the Vietnamese, when it comes to the 1,068-meter-high mountain, it would be a mistake if they make no mention of King Tran Nhan Tong, who ruled the country from 1279 to 1293 and twice led the nation to defeat the Mongol invaders before abdicating the throne and embracing the life of a Buddhist monk on the mountain in his old age.
Additionally, tourists are recommended to join the Yen Tu Spring Festival, the longest festival in the northern region, when it lasts from the 10th of the first lunar month, which falls on February 25 this year until the end of the third lunar month.
The festival is awash with traditional rituals, folk games, festivities and art performances to commemorate the King who founded the Truc Lam Zen sect in the late 13th century, laying a foundation for Vietnam’s Buddhism.
Bai Dinh Pagoda, Ninh Binh Province
A panoramic view of Bai Dinh Pagoda in the northern province of Ninh Binh
In springtime, thousands of tourists from different parts of the nation always flock to the northern province of Ninh Binh to visit the largest pagoda complex in Vietnam, Bai Dinh Pagoda, which is only 95 kilometers south of Hanoi.
Curious travelers can witness several record-breaking works, such as the three bronze statues of Buddha representing the past, the present and the future weighing 50 tons per statue in Tam The temple, a Buddha statue weighing 100 tons in Phap Chu temple and two bells measuring 36 tons and 27 tons.
Huong Pagoda, Hanoi City
Those planning to take a pilgrimage tour to the northern region during this Tet occasion could contemplate Huong Pagoda in Huong Son Commune, My Duc District, about 70 kilometers southwest of Hanoi where nature enthusiasts can experience the tranquil atmosphere helping ease all stresses in life.
Visitors to the pagoda from the sixth day of the first lunar month, which falls on February 21 this year, to the fifteenth day of the third lunar month can feel a bustling atmosphere thanks to the famous Huong Pagoda festival.
The Huong Pagoda Festival is the biggest and longest annual festival in Vietnam, lasting three spring months and wooing millions of pilgrims and tourists.
This year, the festival is expected to welcome around 1.5 million tourists, and more than 4,500 high-quality boats would be arranged to serve the demand of pilgrims, reports the Vietnam News Agency.
Vinh Trang Pagoda, My Tho City, Tien Giang Province
A peaceful sanctuary that should not be missed when arriving in My Tho City in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang is Vinh Trang Pagoda, which was built in 1849, with a touch of Western and Asian architectural traits.
The temple is also famous for its 18 Arhat statues made of jackfruit wood and surrounded by many ancient trees and bonsai.
The long-established pagoda has still preserved more than 60 priceless statues of Buddha and around 20 watercolor paintings.
Ba Chua Xu Temple, Chau Doc Town, An Giang Province
As a rule, Ba Chua Xu Lady Temple at the foot of Sam Mountain in Chau Doc Town, An Giang Province is crowded with throngs of pilgrims from around the country during the first days of the lunar new year.
The temple dates back to Nguyen Dynasty as construction of the pagoda started in 1820 under the reign of King Gia Long. To date, it is famous as a holy religious destination of the Mekong Delta, where locals and tourists come to pay tribute to lady Ba Chua Xu in the hopes of good luck and prosperous life.