There are few places anywhere on earth to match the splendour of Angkor Wat. The temple is one of the largest monuments to religion ever built and is truly one the wonders of the world. Believed to have been constructed as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is probably the best-preserved of the Angkorean temples. As with other Angkorean temples and walled cities such as Angkor Thom, the central theme of Khmer architecture revolved around the idea of the temple-mountain.
Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray.
Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, was a fortified cit enclosing residences of priest, officials of the palace and military, as well as buildings for administering the kingdom. These structures were built of wood and have perished but the remaining stone monuments testify that Angkor Thom was indeed a "Great City" as its name implies. Temples inside the walls of the city described are Bayon, Phimeanakas, Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Prah Palilay, Tep Pranam and Prasat Suor Prat.
Symbolically, Angkor Thom is a microcosm of the universe, divided into four parts by the main axes. The temple of the Bayon is situated at the exact center of the axes and stands as the symbolical link between heaven and earth. The wall enclosing the city of Angkor Thom represents the stonewall around the universe and the mountain ranges around Meru. The surrounding moat (now dry) symbolizes the cosmic ocean.
The tenth century temple of Banteay Srei is renowned for its intricate decoration carved in pinkish sandstone that covers the walls like tapestry.
Banteay Srei is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child's heart has yearned after, but which mature years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteay Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone.
Shrouded in dense jungle the temple of Ta Prohm is ethereal in aspect and conjures up a romantic aura. Fig, banyan and kapok trees spread their gigantic roots over stones, probing walls and terraces apart, as their branches and leaves intertwine to form a roof over the structures. Trunks of trees twist amongst stone pillars. The strange, haunted charm of the place entwines itself about you as you go, as inescapably as the roots have wound themselves about the walls and towers', wrote a visitor 40 years ago.
Ta Prohm is among the largest of the monuments in the Angkor complex, the inscription gives an idea of the size of the temple. The complex included 260 statues of gods, 39 towers with pinnacles and 566 groups of residences. Ta Prohm comprises a series of long low buildings standing on one level, which are enclosed by rectangular laterite wall (600 by 1,000 meters, 1,959 by 3,281 feet). Only traces of the wall are still visible. The center of the monument is reached by a series of towers connected with passages. This arrangement forms a ' sort of sacred way into the heart of the monument’; three-square galleries enclose the area.
It is a testimony to the love of symmetry and balance which evolved its style....in pure simplicity of rectangles its beauty is achieved. It is a pyramid mounting in terraces, five of them ...Below Bak-Keng lays all the world of mystery, the world of the Khmer, more mysterious ever under its cover of impenetrable verdure.
Phnom Bakheng is located 1,30 meters (4,265 feet) north of Angkor Wat and 400 meters (1,312 feet) south of Angkor Thom.
Enter and leave Phnom Bakheng by climbing a long steep path with some steps on the east side of the monument (height 67 meters, 220 feet) In the 1960 this summit was approached by elephant and, according to a French visitor, the ascent was "a promenade classic and very agreeable.
Arrive at the summit just before sunset for a panoramic view of Angkor and its environs. The golden hues of the setting sun on this vista are a memorable sight.
The National Museum of Cambodia houses one of the world's greatest collections of Khmer cultural material including sculpture, ceramics and ethnographic objects from the prehistoric, pre-Angkorian, Angkorian and post-Angkorian periods.
The main activities of the National Museum of Cambodia include exhibiting, safeguarding and promoting understanding of Cambodia’s cultural and artistic treasures. Keeping objects safe and working to ensure the repatriation of pieces stolen from Cambodia are important aspects of the museum’s work, particularly as looting and illicit export of cultural material are a continuing concern. In addition, the Museum strives to engage its visitors through its exhibitions and to fulfil its role as an integral part of the community. The Museum believes that Cambodia’s cultural heritage is of great value and can provide a source of pride and identity to the Cambodian people who have lost so much in recent decades. The availability of multilingual Museum tour guides and Publications, as well as the Museum’s public library, all serve to increase the accessibility of the collection both for local and international visitors.
Cambodia’s Royal Palace complex was begun by King Norodom I (ruled 1860-1904) in 1886, when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. Most buildings were completed before World War I, with involvement by French administrators and Thai designers and architects. French influence can be seen in the formal gardens which enhance the palace, and there are some European-style buildings on the grounds. Now Royal Palace is a home to His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.
Royal palace has four gates. The eastern Victory Gate leads directly to the entrance of the throne hall and is used only by royalty and VIPs. The northern or funeral gate is only opened after the death of a monarch. After being embalmed, the monarch’s body is kept in state at the palace for three months, with the face hidden by a one-kilogram solid gold mask, before being taken out via this gate. The west or executing gate was used by condemned prisoners exiting the palace to be killed. The southern gate is reserved for use by commoners and it is through this gate the public reaches the Silver Pagoda.
At the top of palace’s throne hall, note the four pale, almost clown-like faces, which represent the all-seeing king. The hall itself is painted vivid yellow, a symbol of Buddhism, and white, for Hinduism, the two main faiths of Cambodia until they were combined into one by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. The central door of the five at the front of the throne hall are reserved for royalty and VIPs. Inside, note the 1913 ceiling mural telling the story of the Ramayana. The thick carpet supplied by China in 1993 matches the lotus-bud floor tiles.
Wat Preah Keo Morakot (Silver Pagoda) is located in the southern portion of the Royal Palace complex. The pagoda was formerly known as Wat Uborsoth Rotannaram because it is where the King worshiped, prayed and practiced every Buddhist Silas Day. In the additional, the royal family and officials also held Buddhist ceremonies there.This pagoda has no monks. However, this Majestic King Norodom Sihanouk lived there for one year when he entered the monkhood on July 31, 1947. Because the pagoda has no monks, visitors usually refer to it as Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot. When the King celebrates Buddhist ceremonies, monks from other pagoda such as Wat Unaloam and Wat Botumvattey are invited to attend the ceremonies. Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot was built between 1892 and 1902, during the reign of King Norodom, but at that time it was constructed of wood and brick. Its design is base on Cambodian architectural style. Then Banhchos Khan Seima ceremony was held on Feb 5, 1903.
There are 1,650 art objects housed in this temple. Most of them are Buddha figures. They are made of gold, silver, bronze and other valuable materials. Some are decorated with diamonds. They are gifts from the King, the royal family, dignitaries and other people who worship at Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot, where they pray for peace and prosperity, for happiness and for the preservation of Cambodian cultural heritage for the next generation. In front of the throne, site a Buddha statue made of gold, weighing 90 kilograms (about 200 pounds) and decorated with 2,086 diamonds. The biggest diamond is on the crown. It is 25 millimeters. This statue was commissioned in 1904 by King Sisowath, following the suggestion of King Norodom. King Norodom said, after his body was cremated the gold casket should be melted to make Buddha statue representing Preah Srei Araymetrey. This Buddha statue is named Preah Chin Raingsei Rachik Norodom.
Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road and the surrounding district is one of the best known localities in the Thai capital. Unlike some districts in the city you won’t find beautiful temples or palaces here; Sukhumvit Bangkok is better known for its Westernised feel and consists of bars, restaurants and shopping malls that you’ll find alongside sois that are filled with even more bars (salubrious and otherwise) and massage parlours. The sex trade is difficult to ignore with prostitutes almost everywhere you look, and you wouldn’t come to Sukhumvit Road for the traditional Thai culture, but even so, it’s one of the most visited neighbourhoods in the city. So why the interest? Read on to discover our recommendations for amazing places to visit on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok.
Wat Saket in Bangkok Old Town is an Ayutthaya-era shrine with a gleaming gold chedi in Bangkok. Also called the Golden Mount, it occupies an 80-metre-tall man made hill that was built during the reign of King Rama III. The temple welcomes worshippers year-round, though it’s busiest during its annual temple fair in November, during Loy Krathong. The temple grounds have mature trees and typical Buddhist structures such as a main prayer hall, ordination hall and library.
Wat Saket was the capital's crematorium and the dumping ground for some 60,000 plague victims in the late-18th century. At the base of the Golden Mount, you’ll find an unusual cemetery covered in vines and overgrown trees. It emits a rather spooky out-of-era vibe. Once you arrive at the top of Wat Saket, you’ll be surrounded by a wall of bells and panoramas of Bangkok Old Town.
The dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in Bangkok. It’s one must-see sight that no visit to the city would be complete without. It was built in 1782 and for 150 years was the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government.
The Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of the Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. Wat Arun (or temple of the dawn) is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water.
Wat Arun is almost directly opposite Wat Pho, so it’s very easy to get to. From Saphan Taksin boat pier you can take a riverboat that stops at Pier 8. From here, a small shuttle boat takes you from one side of the river to the other.
The Artist's House (The Artist's House) is a centuries-old house turned gallery in Thonburi, across the Chao Phraya River. Owned by Khun Chumpol Akkapantanon, it’s an excellent spot to escape from the city’s modern buildings and hectic traffic for a day.
Baan Silapin (and its neighbourhood) dates back to the 1800s. A boardwalk leading to the gallery is lined with shops, cafes, local restaurants, and a temple. You can also spot many unusual and human-sized statues painted in white, red and black sitting by the water.
The Artist's House has a tall, white stupa dating back to the Ayutthaya period standing in the backyard. You can see plenty of traditional paintings, masks and, puppets throughout the building. It’s most popular for hosting traditional Thai puppet shows, where intricately-made puppets are manipulated by artists dressed in black.
Shows take place on a small wooden stage every day at 2pm, except Wednesdays. It’s a good idea to call in advance as the theatre sometimes performs in other parts of the city, usually during special events.
The charm of ancient city of Ayutthaya Thailand continues to gain tourists’ attention as a historic attraction. Not only the old moments but also the new things that shine.
When it comes to historical buildings, Ayutthaya travel is well known for temples and palaces. But in addition to that, a variety of food is also another magnet. You can find fresh river prawns, fish, noodles, and even the never-miss dessert like cotton candy wrap. So, remember to plan your eating trip whenever you visit Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. The capital of Thailand, then known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was a glorified as one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia and a regional power for 417 years.
Emperor Jade Pagoda, also known as Tortoise Pagoda, is one of the five most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh City.
Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practised widely in Vietnam.
In the main hall, the Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang or the 'God of the Heavens' reigns supreme. Aided by two assistants, the Emperor decides who can enter this higher realm. Those who don't pass this gate will meet with the formidable 'God of Hell', on the left, who will send sinners to one of the 10 levels of hell. Life in purgatory is magnificent if somewhat gruesomely represented by the intricate carvings on the temple wall, depicting different kinds of punishments that await transgressors.
In a different hall, the goddess of fertility Kim Hua, surrounded by figures of women and small children, blesses childless couples who pray for an offspring here. The goddess of mercy Kuan Yin, who forms a very important part of any Taoist temple, has an altar in a room on the top floor.
Emperor Jade Pagoda is a living and working shrine very much in use by the locals who come here to prayer or make votive offerings of flowers and light candles and joss sticks. With worshippers coming and going, the temple can get busy and feel a little cramped. Its dimly lit, the narrow passageways filled with smoke lend an atmospheric feel to the place, adding to its charm.
Reunification Palace was the base of Vietnamese General Ngo Dinh Diem until his death in 1963. It made its name in global history in 1975. A tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate, ending the Vietnam War. Today, it's a must-visit for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City.
The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975. You can see two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds. Reunification Palace was the home and workplace of the French Governor of Cochin-China. It has lush gardens, secret rooms, antique furniture, and a command bunker. It's still in use to host important occasions in Ho Chi Minh, including APEC summits.
The Reunification Palace has five levels. The basement features tunnels, a war room and telecommunications centre. The war command room has original maps on its walls. Period telecommunications equipment are also on display. Its adjoining basement rooms display war propaganda materials. On the third floor, there's a card playing room while the fourth houses a casino. Reunification Palace's rooftop terrace is fitted with a heliport.
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. Located in Paris Square, the name Notre Dame was given after the installation of the statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’ in 1959.
In 1962, the Vatican conferred the Cathedral status as a basilica and gave it the official name of Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. Measuring almost 60 metres in height, the cathedral’s distinctive neo-Romanesque features include the all-red brick façade (which were imported from Marseille), stained glass windows, two bell towers containing six bronze bells that still ring to this day, and a peaceful garden setting in the middle of downtown Ho Chi Minh City District 1.
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia. Located next door to Notre Dame Cathedral, the two cultural sites can be visited together and offers visitors a chance to imagine life in Vietnam during the times of the Indochinese Empire. The building was designed by Alfred Foulhoux and features arched windows and wooden shutters, just as it would have in its heyday in the late 19th Century.
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh was constructed between 1886 and 1891 and once inside, the looping arches, intricately designed marble floors and antiquated telephone boxes all serve as a reminder of the importance the post office played in days before email and mobile phones. Although the architecture is distinctly French, the large portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging high above everyone at the far end of the building reminds everyone we are definitely in Vietnam. Painted onto walls overhead are two maps of the region; one of them showing the telegraph lines that crisscross Vietnam and Cambodia and the other displaying a map of the Saigon region in 1892.
Although the experience is a fascinating glimpse into history, the fact that this is still a functioning post office makes the experience even sweeter, and we encourage everyone to send a letter or postcard from here – it’s a piece of living history where even the old fashioned glue pots are still in use for sticking stamps to letters. There are two wings branching out from the main office, selling souvenirs, postcards and lacquerware but the prices are inflated and the same products can probably be found elsewhere for a better price.
Mariamman Hindu Temple is a sacred Hindu Temple dedicated to the goddess of the Rain ‘Mariamman’. This temple was built in the late 19th century by traders coming from India and has been well preserved. This complex is the only Hindu temple in Saigon and is believed to have miraculous powers giving luck and wealth to its visitors.
The outer wall of the Temple has a collection of interesting statues of different gods and goddesses like Mariamman, Vishnu, Brahma and Ganesha. The main hall of the complex (The Rajagopuram) stands twelve metres tall and inside you find a well-maintained statue of Mariamman flanked by her protectors ‘Maduraiveeran’ and ‘Pechiamman’.
If you would like to enter the Mariamman Hindu Temple than do not forget to take of your shoes and dress appropriately. To favour the goddess of the rain you can also take some offerings such as joss sticks, jasmine, lilies and gladioli. These can be bought in front of the entrance. In the near vicinity of this temple, you can also find Ben Thanh Market. Entrance to the temple is free of charge and can be visited from 07:00 – 19:00.
The Cao Dai Temple was finished in 1955 when the Cao Dai Army was formed following the Japanese occupation of Indochina. Caodaists believe that all religions are ultimately the same and seek to promote tolerance throughout the world.
The Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Confucius, in addition to Joan of Arc and Julius Cesar are all honoured at this temple.
There are nine hierarchies of worship including a pope, cardinals and archbishop with festivals, rituals and prayer all practised regularly. The temple is similar in design to a Christian Cathedral featuring side aisles and an altar, as well as a long central nave, all positioned as they would be in a Christian Church, there is even a high dome decorated with clouds and saints.
The main focal point is a Divine Eye symbolising God which has the Ying and Yang icon in its pupil. Ceremonies take place daily with two services accompanied by musicians and a choir singing in English to traditional Vietnamese music.
The Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh is an elegant colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in District 1, very close to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the classic Central Post Office. The restored three-storey 800-seat Opera House was built in 1897 and is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays. Performances are advertised around the building and information can be found in the state-operated tourist information centre close by.
The exterior has the appearance of polished pearl and makes a great place to photograph – especially at night when bathed in a soft, orange light. The entrance is through a vaulted archway that is kept in immaculate condition; inside, expect swathes of red velvet, classical friezes and hardwood floors. Although the official name of the building is The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh it is by far more commonly known as the Saigon Opera House and after the restoration work in 1995, the building is just as it was at the turn of the 19th Century.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck stands 262 metres high at the centre of the city’s business district and offers visitors an unparalleled city view from its Sky Deck.
Designed by renowned American Architect Carlos Zapata, this 68-storey tower houses offices, shops, restaurants, and a helipad. CNNGo recently ranked the building fifth in their listing of the world’s 20 most iconic skyscrapers.
The structure also received an ‘Excellence in Structural Engineering’ award from NCSEA in 2011 and is currently the 124th tallest building in the world. The main attraction at the tower is the Sky Deck where visitors can enjoy dramatic views across the bustling city below.
Sky Deck visitors are accompanied by an English-speaking guide and can also enjoy interactive touch screen fact boxes delivering information on points of interest regarding city landmarks seen from above.
The Hien Luong Bridge - a bridge across the Ben Hai river, which was part of the border between North and South Vietnam from 1954 until the reunification in 1976. Today, the bridge is still there and seen as an important national monument to the reunification of Vietnam. Near the bridge is also a museum, propaganda war remnants and two memorials.
The old narrow bridge itself is a simple steel structure built by the French. The bridge is now just a pedestrian bridge. A modern bridge, which is next, takes all the traffic across the river on its behalf. You can walk across the old bridge over the entire length (165 meters).
The old bridge was during the war with the Americans, part of the DMZ. The acronym DMZ stands for Demilitarized zone (literally a demilitarized area). It is a buffer zone between two countries where tensions exist. In this case, it was the North and South Vietnam.
De Dong Hoi Citadel - is located in the centre of town. It is a complex of high fences and towers. A citadel is a fortress that dominates the city. This fort had to defend the king and the capital from the Nguyen dynasty defend since 1630. The citadel is 1,500 meters away from the Nhat Le beach and it is adjacent to the Nhat Le River on the east side and the forest on the west side. Only two gates and a moat remain of the citadel. You can climb up in the gates, but inside you will find syringes and burnt debris.
Dong Hoi citadel has played an important position in many periods of history. In 1885 the French army attacked the citadel, but the people and soldiers of Dong Ha defended the citadel well and won the battle triumphant, that's why the French had to withdraw. During the war between Vietnam and France in 1945-1954, the locals also made several attacks on the citadel. Nowadays there is no more war in Vietnam, but the beautiful Dong Hoi citadel is still alive as an honourable symbol of the brave country. It draws many visitors from all places in Vietnam and around the world.
Tam Toa Church is a Catholic church located on Nguyen Du Street, Dong My Ward, Dong Hoi City, Quang Binh Province. The church was built in 1886.
Han Mac Tu was baptized here in 1912 with the Christian name Nguyen Trong Tri Franois. In the eight years from 1964 to 1972, the US air bombardment of North Vietnam. Dong Hoi was flattened, Tam Toa church was bombed only the bell tower remained. After the Geneva Agreement in 1954, the whole Tam Tran migrated to the South. Since then the church has been abandoned. During the Vietnam War, Tam Toa Church was bombed 48 times by the United States Air Force. On February 11, 1965, the church was hit by a bomb, leaving only the bell tower with bullet holes.
Dong Hoi town was razed by US bombs and the church bell tower became a war relic. On February 26, 1997, the People's Committee of Quang Binh province issued Decision No. 143 / QD-UB, The court has become a war crimes vestige and is historical-cultural vestiges of the province, which need to be strictly protected.
October 23, 2008, Quang Binh People's Committee and the Bishop of Doai was united and signed a memorandum saying: "The old Tam Toa Church is now evidence of war crimes. The two sides will maintain and embellish in order to protect and serve the traditional research and education for the young generation...
In the Quang Binh tour short or long, visitors more or less have the opportunity to visit many historical relics, evidence of war in this land. Tam Toa Church is the largest Catholic church in Quang Binh, also the largest and only church of Dong Hoi city, located in the heart of the city.
Phap Lam Pagoda is a two-storey temple in Da Nang City Centre, featuring towering trees, manicured gardens, and intricate Buddhist sculptures. Formerly known as Tinh Hoi Pagoda (until renamed as Phap Lam Pagoda), it was built in 1934 along Ong Ich Khiem Street, where Con Market is just a five-minute stroll away.
Despite its location within the bustling Da Nang city centre, the atmosphere here is very serene and peaceful. You can see locals praying in the morning or getting their fortunes told while the resident monks go about their daily lives. As with any Buddhist temple in Vietnam, Phap Lam Pagoda gets packed with devotees during annual festivities such as Tet and Lunar New Year.
The top floor of the pagoda is a presbytery that features intricately carved pillars, handwritten Buddhist Pali incantation, and a golden statue of Buddha while the ground floor hosts an amphitheatre that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. The courtyard of the pagoda houses a 1.1-metre-high seated Buddha statue as well as brass statues of the Goddess of Mercy (Avalokitecvara) and Dai The Chi Bodhisattva. Entrance to Phap Lam Pagoda is free of charge, but donations are welcomed.
Da Nang Cathedral was built by French priest Louis Vallet in 1923, with a pink-painted edifice that earns its reputation as one of the most unique catholic churches in Vietnam. Standing at 70 metres, it’s also known as Con Ga Church (Rooster Church) due to the imposing bell tower that’s topped with a rooster weathercock.
The church features a simple interior design of engraved motifs, rhombic-shaped arches, medieval-style stained glass windows of various saints, and statues depicting events from the Holy Bible. There’s also a grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary set behind Da Nang Cathedral, which is a replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France.
As the only church in Da Nang, it serves the local Catholic community of over 4000 parishioners to this very day. Services are held in different languages daily, with English-spoken sermons on Sundays at 9:00. If you’re looking to visit this church for Mass, make sure to head there early due to limited seats. Entrance to Da Nang Cathedral is also free of charge.
Dragon Bridge in Da Nang is the longest bridge in Vietnam, offering a dazzling display of lights, fire, and water that no first-time visitor to Da Nang should miss out on. Measuring at 666 metres in length, it is located in Da Nang City and constructed in the shape of a golden dragon.
The six-lane bridge crosses the Han River, serving as direct routes to My Khe Beach and Non Nuoc Beach as well as a popular spot amongst travelling photographers. Dragon Bridge was officially opened in 2013 after a two-year-long construction, commemorating the 38th anniversary of Da Nang City’s liberation. According to local beliefs, which date back to the Ly Dynasty, the dragon is a significant symbol of power, nobility and good fortune.
The Perfume Pagoda, known locally as Chua Huong or ‘inner temple’, is at the centre of a very revered and sacred site featuring a maze of mainly Buddhist temples built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich. At the heart of this complex lies the Perfume Temple or Perfume Pagoda in the Huong Tich Cave.
It is believed that the first temple was built here in the 15th century, although legend declares that the site was actually discovered over 2,000 years ago by a Buddhist monk who was meditating nearby. The mountain foothills are an area of great natural and spiritual beauty filled with streams, tropical plants and temples.
There are many pagodas to visit, each offering a different shrine, most of which are Buddhist although one or two are animist. The Perfume Pagoda attracts pilgrims and tourists seeking good luck from the stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave which have been named according to the individual blessing they can bestow. Dun Tien offers prosperity and Nui Co offers the chance of giving birth to a girl whilst Dun Gao translates as a ‘rice stack’ to those hoping for a bountiful harvest.
Wat Chalong, the largest, most revered and most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket was built at the beginning of the 19th century, 1837 according to some sources. Chalong Temple (officially Wat Chaiyatararam) is one of the Must-See places in Phuket, together with the nearby Big Buddha of Phuket as they are relatively close to each other.
The tallest building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall stupa (chedi) sheltering a bone fragment of Lord Buddha. Walls and ceilings of the temple are decorated with beautiful painting retracing the most significant steps of Buddha’s life. Each floor is also full of large donated golden statues.
Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a beautiful bird view on the entire temple grounds. Few more steps will lead you to a glass display where the fragment of bone can be contemplated.
Big Buddha Phuket is a 45-meter-tall white marble statue visible from anywhere in the southern part of Phuket. It is probably at the top of everyone’s ‘Must-Do in Phuket‘, and for a good reason. The views from up there are breathtaking. The statue is built with people’s donation and is still under construction. If you feel like doing something to help to finish the broad base of the Buddha, you can sponsor a piece of white marble for 300 to 1,000 baht depending on the size.
Phuket Big Buddha started in 2002 as the foundation stone was laid by General Phijit Kulawanich, Privy Councilor on May 22, 2002. The official name is ‘Phraphutthamingmongkhol-akenagakhiri Buddha’ that translates as “Happiness on top of Nakerd mountain”
The beautiful Hanoi Opera House was built in 1911 by the then ruling French. It’s a phenomenal piece of neo-classical French architecture featuring Gothic themes on the doors and domes with pillars, shuttered windows, balconies and a glass room. Musicians, actors and dancers play to a 600-strong audience delivering powerful operatic and classical performances, making it a very popular theatrical attraction.
The Hanoi Opera House is the biggest theatre in Vietnam and speaks volumes as historical and cultural evidence of Vietnam under French rule. The interior is even more magnificent than the exterior with many arguing it is aesthetically even more appealing than the Paris Opera House. Visitors today will be entertained at this architectural landmark which features a range of events including local Vietnamese opera, traditional folk music, ballets and many international concerts.
The Temple of Literature is often cited as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist attractions. Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, the building is extremely well preserved and is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture.
This ancient site offers a lake of literature, the Well of Heavenly Clarity, turtle steles, pavilions, courtyards and passageways that were once used by royalty. Visiting the Temple of Literature you will discover historic buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties in a revered place that has seen thousands of doctors’ graduate in what has now become a memorial to education and literature.
Originally the university only accepted aristocrats, the elite and royal family members as students before eventually opening its doors to brighter ‘commoners’. Successful graduates had their names engraved on a stone stele which can be found on top of the stone turtles.
Ngoc Son Temple was built in the 18th century on Jade Island in the centre of the ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’ or Hoan Kiem Lake. Legend describes how an emperor was once given a magical sword which helped him defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty and in doing so saw the return of the Golden Turtle God to the lake.
Today ‘Turtle Tower’ stands close to the lake in memory of this legend. There are also endangered large soft-shell turtles swimming in the lake, and to see one of these gentle giants is considered very auspicious. The name of the temple translates to ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ and is predominately dedicated to war hero General Tran Hung Dao who defeated an armed force of 300,000 soldiers sent by Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan in the 13th century to invade Vietnam.
Also inside the pagoda are a large bronze bust and other deities. There are altars dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, some ancient artefacts including ceramics and a preserved specimen of a giant turtle found in the lake weighing 250kg.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Also known as the Hanoi Citadel, many artefacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries were excavated in 2004, including foundations of old palaces, ancient roads, ponds and wells.
On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. Visitors should head for the display room that features interesting excavated items and mock-ups of the citadel itself.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square is one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes).
For visitors, a trip to Uncle Ho’s final resting place can be an extraordinary experience as it is not just an average attraction; it’s a part of a unique history.
Started in 1973, the construction of the mausoleum was modelled on Lenin's mausoleum in Russia and was first open to the public in 1975. The granite building meant a great deal for many locals as it ensures that their beloved leader ‘lives on forever’.
Security is tight and visitors should dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before getting in. Visitors are not allowed to stop and hold the constant queue up as the place is constantly busy. Uncle Ho’s remains are sent yearly to Russia for maintenance therefore the mausoleum is closed usually from October onwards. It’s best to recheck with your hotel tour desk before visiting. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
Bach Ma Temple is believed to be the oldest temple in Hanoi. This Buddhist temple was originally built in the ninth century by King Ly Thai To in honour of Bach Ma. According to a sign inside the temple, originally the site of the temple was Long Do Mountain. The temple was moved to its current location in the Old Quarter of Hanoi in the 18th century, during the Ly Dynasty, to guard the east side of Thang Long.
The translation of Bach Ma is ́White Horse ́ and this refers to a story behind the construction of the Temple. King Ly Thai To had been struggling to build the temple as its walls kept collapsing. It is said that a white horse delineated the best area to build the temple with its hooves to help the king in constructing the temple.
Istana Negara (National Palace) is the official residence of the Yang DiPertuan Agong who is the head of state of Malaysia. The New palace which was opened in 2011 is located at Jalan Duta, replaces the old Istana Negara.