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Travelers often are recommended spending time to explore attractions in Nha Trang center. The trip to that places as a whole brings some differences from other cities. First we should mention the Po Nagar towers where later comers Viet people affably adapted to belief in local Cham’s Ponagar goddess, basing on their huge respect to her and mother else. And also created a new story to tell her life and yearly held festival to give thanks to her merits. Wonderful example for how different group of people can share spiritual values.

Secondly, heritages of Alexandre Yersin can not be found anywhere else. This French scientist discovered the bacterium (later named his name) and present-day Da Lat. For a perfect day out, check out Nha Trang’s food specialties and where can savour them as well. Bun cha ca is a highlight, mouth-watering and little sugar-sweet due to local favourite taste. Seafoods are stunning to try, from rich and fresh local source. More things are await you to experience ahead. Read our article now to make your own wonderful way.

Po Nagar Cham Towers 
Photo: Central Vietnam Trip

 

The Big Gautama Buddha in Long Son Pagoda
Photo: Central Vietnam Trip

Sitting on a gentle hill by Cai river, Po Nagar Towers are built in 9th century and continued being completed untill 13rd century. Originally this group had six buildings (or more) but now only five of them remain. Its main temple functioned to worship of great Po Nagar goddess of Cham people for hundred years. About spiritual importance, the most sacred site of Kauthara principality and just after Unesco-listed My Son sanctuary across the kingdom. This belief is kept practicing by later Viet populations up to date. Annually, two communities hand-in-hand celebrate a solemn and lavish festival in honor of the goddess. Ba Thien Y Ana is how Vietnamese call her name respectfully nowadays. Visiting around here usually gets mentioned as one of the best things to do in Nha Trang.

Fact: Present-day Nha Trang was capital of Kauthara, one of five principalities of former Champa kingdom (2nd to 19th centuries). Po Nagar was its center of vibrant spiritual and religious life.

Every day, Po Nagar Cham Towers open from 6 a.m to 5:30 p.m. Its ticket price is 22.000 VND (0.96 USD), 50% off for childrens between one and 1.4m in height. There is free of charge for kids and childrens below one meter tall. No difference in this entrance fee between Vietnamese passport holders and others throughout the world.

About the dresscode, travelers are advised to wear long pants, below the knees and shirts covering armpits and navel. At gate of worshipping towers, free sheets are available to help persons not covered enough to come inside. Everybody also has to take off shoes, remove hat and sunglasses before visit the interior of sacred spaces, especially temples. Locals always do not make noise to bear their respect to the goddess.  

The best time to visit Po Nagar Cham Towers and Nha Trang in general is from February to September. Months within it have no typhoons, not lots of heavy rains and many sunshine hours. That’s such lovely to wander around temples dated back from many past centuries, admire talents of old artists and take picture. Great weather to Cham musical instruments and dance performances occurred, a must-see when come to this well-known attraction. In addition to, nice to relax on beaches in its surrounds. In peak tourist seasons, you should start your visit here in the morning to avoid crowds from tour visitors. Furthermore, it’s cooler in the time also.

Especially, the Po Nagar festival can be said as the best of best. It’s held from 20th to 23rd days of third lunar month (corresponding to February in Gregorian calendar) yearly. The most value of it is from vibrant scenes made up by people wearing colorful traditional costumes, ceremonies and offsprings. There is a very good chance to know more local culture that not easy to see in any other times and wherever else. Definitely visitors can get numerous lively photographs. Just previously, Tet Nguyen Dan or new year festival is also occurred (the biggest celebration of Viet people). Double featured feast days make your trip here is really worth it.

Po Nagar festival time over years:

+ 2018: 4th to 7th February

+ 2019: 15th to 18th February

+ 2020: 27th to 30th February

+ 2021: 8th to 11st February

+ 2022: 18th to 21st February

For self-guided travelers

Po Nagar Towers is in central Nha Trang, therefore most vehicles on road are very convenient to get it. Taxi or app-based car and motorbike ride rentals like the Grab is always available during its opening hours. The pricing depends on how long between your location and the site and number of seats. Regularly, different times of the day have different offers. Cycling and walking also are absolutely possible to make. Seafront road and parks lining it brings fabulous ambiences for a day of exploration. Sunset watching in two bridges nearby is awesome too. In case you like to self-drive motorcycle, read our guide here for more details.

Cyclo is another way to get Po Nagar towers. Currently, there are about 300 legal cyclo riders all over the city. They often work in Tran Phu seaside boulevards and a couple of streets of many tourists like Nguyen Thien Thuan or Biet Thu. Electric-run cyclos cost more than traditional one (padeling by human) from 20.000 to 50.000 VND. Local people share that price of a city tour is  150.000 VND. This can be fitted into one hour ride to anywhere in the centre you like too. Make sure the driver happy for that.

Taking No.4 bus to get Po Nagar Tower, from both Northern and Southern banks of the river. It’s operated from 5:10 a.m until 7:10 p.m with a frequency of 45 minutes. In the downtown (the Southern bank), travelers can hop on at stations on Quang Trung, Ly Thanh Ton, Le Thanh Ton, Nguyen Thien Thuan, Tran Quang Khai and Tran Phu streets. See all stops and detailed itenerary in our map here. To the North side of river, it picks up on Nguyen Du, Pham Van Dong, Thap Ba before come to Cham towers. Ticket cost’s 7.000 VND.

Organized tours

As a must-visit attraction in Nha Trang center, Po Nagar Cham towers is a part of all best city tours. And it will be one must within itenerary of trips designed for history lovers. Tours by bus, van, cyclo, bicycle, motorcycle and foots can be fitted, a broad range of choices. We outline another article just to provide information about guided tours to Nha Trang’s major sightseeing places. Browse here to know details.

Fact: Thap Ba Po Nagar is the longest-used Cham towers, from its formation in 9th century up to the present. So, it’s selected as one of Nha Trang city enblems.

A sanctuary of Po Nagar Goddess

Po Nagar Towers are main and most important center of worship of Po Nagar goddess thoughout history of Champa. Not only the whole kingdom, it stands as the heart of religious life of people in former Kauthara principality. This role continues up to the present, no matter which power controls the area or which ethnic is the majority. The earliest structure was built in the beginning of 9th century and other buildings in turn established until 13rd century. Following Viet population arrivals from the North, Po Nagar goddess was also in an extreme respect from the new comers. They thought she is true owner of the land where they settle and will bless everybody. In their hometown, the Mother goddesses (Thanh mau) get a sense of adoration not less. Therefore, they have been with Cham people to celebrate an annual solemn festival to express piety and give thanks. The time of celebration is the day the Goddess returning the Heaven. Additionally, a legend was made as well, to explain to existence of the common goddess.      

Other famous Po Nagar-worshipped places in Central Vietnam:
+ Am Chua Temple, West Nha Trang
+ Thap Nhan Towers in Tuy Hoa, Phu Yen
+ Dien Truong Ba Temple in Quang Ngai
+  Dien Hon Chen Temple in Hue

Vietnamese legend about Po Nagar Goddess

When hand over, Vietnamese created a legend about the goddess worshipped inside Po Nagar Tower. It’s recorded by Phan Thanh Gian and later carved on a stele by Han-Nom inscriptions in 1856 in the site. According to, the goddess is adopted child of a couple of old farmers living in mountains of city outskirt today. The hubsband and wife have no childrens, grow watermelons and love each other very much. One day, they know someone steals their melons. And to find out who, they plan on hiding and see what happen. One night, a young and beautiful girl appear and because she has no parents, the couple decides to be her adoptives.

Time flies, the goddess misses the Heaven and create many things look like fairy sceneries to make her soul better. Her adopted-dad does not understand and gets angry. When upset, she sees an agarwood floating on the river and hide in it to move somewhere else to relieve. After long travel, this washes ashore in the North and is picked by a prince due to its sweet smelling. In one late evening, the alluring goddess is discovered by him when she appears. He gets marriaged with her then and has two childrens, one boy and one girl. They live together in the palaces with happiness.

From being extreme homesickness, the goddess takes her childrens back to old farmer’s house, suddenly. Unfortunately, her adoptives passed away. Then she stay back to keep worshipping of them and  help people living in surrounds. After her return to the Heaven, local community builds a glorious temple on top of the hill to pay tribute to her contributions. She receives great respects, countless offsprings and gorgeous perfomances in annual festival there. Her hubsband, son and daugher also are adored in smaller temples nearby.   

Reconstruction history

Due to harsh climate, time and recent wars, precious values of Po Nagar Cham towers has being affected.  Several reconstruction projects were erected to preserve them right from the beginning of 20th century. First one was in 1930s by French archaeologists and architects. Using cement to create link between old bricks is the most visual trace from that works we can see today. Others then were carried out by Vietnamese in 1990s and in 2010 for the South tower (second largest temple). Like strolling around My Son sanctuary, keep in mind that old-liked parts are reconstructions and vice versa. Come to the small museum in the back of all temples to see more photos and documents.

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The Mandapa-Four rows of big columns

After the entrance, you will see rows of imposing column before visit the towers above. A bit like Roman columns in Greek temples. There are twelve octagonal pillars and ten more bigger ones in size just behind. Historians believe that these are remnants of a roofed building only. Its roof was destroyed for some reasons. Cham people call whole area as the Mandapa, meaning the long house. In many past centuries, they used it to prepare offsprings prior to climb stairs to see their great goddess. Because stairs too steep (someone has to crawd), a new stepped road is built to access the upper parts easier.

Note: As same as builders of Angkor Wat, steep stairs here force pilgrims to bow the head to show respect to the deities.

 

Ancient glorious temples

The main tower boasts of its 23m height and the most lavish decorations. It’s built during four years from 813 to 814 and rebuilt in 11st century after numerous upheavals in history. Like other Cham temples, only East-facing gate is used for accessing. On the arch of this, there’s an intricate stone bas-relief of Shiva god dancing and putting his right foot on Nandin. Two flute musicians stand both sides to complement the performance. Just below, its door columns are full of Sankrit inscriptions informing construction of the complex, king’s offsprings to the goddess and her blessings to people. In the temple heart, Po Nagar goddess statue in glamorous costumes solemly sits. Altars of her son and daughter also are arranged here by Vietnamese after 17th century. Incense smoke from active ceremonies and prayings over time darken the walls.

The second largest tower is to the South of Po Nagar temple. It features pyramid-like roof where a Linga set on height of eighteen meters (no longer today). Dated back from 13rd century, local people have been using it to worship goddess husband. Previously, native Cham inhabitants honored Shiva god here. Linga, his supreme representation atop the tower is the strong testimony for that function. Close by, the Southeast temple originally was dedicated to worship Skanda (Shiva’s son) and converted into adoration of Po Nagar goddess’s adoptive parents later. This is the smallest building and of horse saddle-like roof reminding traditional boats.

Compared to others else, the Northwest temple has not much changes in architecture and decoration from its formation to today. It’s constructed in 9th century and restored many times after. At here, Champa kings and people divinized Ganesha, god of wisdom, happiness and fortune. Vietnamese then transformed the role into worship of son and daughter of Po Nagar goddess.  

Museum

Behind the temples, there’s a small museum of exhibitions from Po Nagar towers itself, Cham people, Champa kingdom and festival. Most remarkably, gorgeous costumes are offered to the Goddess by devotees. Interesting to have a look to. Moreover, air-conditioning here is nice to cool off after getting hot in the outside.  

Cham traditional performances

By temples, performances of Cham artists are held everyday in both morning and afternoon. In which, men play Paranung long drums, blow Saranai trumpets and women perform Bong dances, all wearing traditional costumes. There are little pieces of Po Nagar festival!.  

Other Champa relics you can see “organised Cham traditional performances:
+ My Son Sanctuary, West Hoi An
+  Po Sah Inu Cham Towers, Phan Thiet

 

Po Nagar festival has a long history as same as its host place, the Po Nagar Cham towers. It’s celebrated with loves, to  pay homemage to the goddess’s gratitudes in helping locals to settle well in the land. She teaches how to cultivate wet rice, weaving skills, language and more. Yearly, the celebration is from 20th to 23rd days of 3rd lunar month (around February).

In the first day of Po Nagar festival, locals carry out Le thay y (“changing the costume”). In which, middle-aged women come to the main temple to wash the goddess statue by a liquid made by rice, fresh water and five kinds of spice. In the past, this duty belongged to virgin girls in Xom Bong village nearby. After the sundown, it’s time for Le tha hoa dang in that candle lanterns are dropped down to Cai river. The scene is very lightful.

Two ceremonies are organized in the second day, by Buddhist organization of the province. There are Le cau quoc thai dan an in the morning and Le cau kinh in midday. The third day is the most active time, because of much traditional rituals and especially cultural performances occurred. Sounds of drum, trumpet, singging and prays are actually vibrant. Lots of Cham people pilgrim to the towers this day to offer their well-prepared foods, fruits, flowers and candles. Don’t miss out Bong dance which was handed over from Cham artisans and Tuong opera plays telling goddess-related legends. A competition to find the best fruit-based offspring designer will be seen also in the noon. In 2012, Po Nagar festival is registered as Vietnam’s national intangible cultural heritage.  

Fact: Cham people from other areas also would like to attend the festival every year. In 2019, their number was up to 5.000.

Xom Bong village – Home of traditional dance performers

Xom Bong village sits on an island covering by waters of Cai river. It’s home of Bong dance artists who are responsible for performing in Po Nagar towers in every festival or ceremonies. The tradition no longer exists today but the name still remains. From Po Nagar Cham towers, just need to cross the bridge to immediate right side to get it. On the another side, Xom Bong village and Tran Phu bridges are ideal places to see the sunset. Numerous bright-colored fisherman boats dotting the river is a plus, great to photograph. 

Distance from Po Nagar Cham Towers to other attactions

From Po Nagar Cham towers to Hon Chong: 2km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to Long Son pagoda: 3km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to the VinWonders theme park: 9km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to National Oceanographic museum: 8km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to Suoi Do pagoda: 16km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to Thap Ba mud bath: 2.7km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to I resort: 4.5km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to Alexandre Yersin museum: 3km | From Po Nagar Cham towers to Dam market: 2km

Location: 22 23 Thang 10 street, Phuong Son ward

Opening hours: 7:30 a.m to 6 p.m everyday, the Buddha hall closes later few hours

Ticket: Free

Parking: 5.000 VND for motorcycle, inside the pagoda

The best time to visit: early morning to avoid the midday high temperatures and late afternoon to have the chance to see sunset from the Big Buddha. Both times are most quite, away from tourist crowds. Festival days are also idyllic, in order to see the pagoda at its most beautiful days, with plentiful decorations. Things to see are richer with addition of featured Buddhism activities and ceremonies.

What should I wear?: should wear respectfully, in other words, shirts covering airmpits, navel and knee-below pants. Blanlets are available to rent when needed, from local vendors or in shops near the main entrance. If make sure everything okay, just come in the places of worship. Going with locals is the best way to stop hindrance from several persons who act without reasons. To get the Buddha statue on mountaintop, visitors will walk upstairs with 193 steps. Select shoes proper for walking, high heels not advised to take.

Social issues: beggars, no-licensed guide and souvenir scammers are quite popular around the pagoda. Local authority and site managers are making efforts to make tourism scene better. There’re many donation boxes for visitors who would like to give money to vulnerable people. Additionally, should not take any incences someone tries to give you, you may be charged with an expensive price, be aware of. Cyclo riders stand outside of the pagoda is another 

 

 

Distance from Nha Trang urban core, to the South of Cai river to Long Son pagoda is under 3km. That’s nice to take a short transfer by taxi, pedicap (xich lo), motorbike taxi (xe om) or just simply, walk. Each charges differently, both with a fixed and changeable prices. You should make sense how much in total for whole ride from your standing spot to the pagoda before sit on back of a xich lo or xe om drivers. Preparing small cash in adance is highly-recommended, to avoid wrong exchange when pay (just in case). Note these tips and enjoy  experiences in your Vietnam holiday.

Riding bicycle and motorcycle are also fun, convenient, bring freedom vibes and especially proper to day out with many places to visit. Unlike small-and-winding streets within Hanoi old quarter, Nha Trang owns many boulevards and wide roads, planned by French and later American. There’s not too challenging if you drive in another city before, look around carefully in big intersections. Public bus is another good way to reach Long Son pagoda due to it’s cheap and easy to get on from main streets. See full itenerary and pick-up points of all buses passing by the pagoda via.    

Compare to any other transportation hubs, the Central railway station stands very near the pagoda, only 500 meters away. From Northern and Southern bus stations, distance to it is 6km and 5.5km respectively.

Buddhism in Nha Trang

Buddhism was imported into Nha Trang by Viet populations in second half of 17th century. Previously, around 9th century, the religion got revered by Champa kingdom’s emperors but short-lived. Thanks to devotion of land rulers, many Buddist temples were built during the time and number of monks and followers increased steadily. Not only the area but also all over the South of present-day Vietnam. That period is called as the Renaissence of Buddhism bu historians. Believers mainly practice the teachings in two sects of Mahayana school: Linji and Caodong.

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Between the end of 18th century and beginning of 19th century, Buddhism development went slow down because of civil wars. But quickly after it regained its peak in Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945) under wealthy patron of emperors. They’re successors of lords who took over Nha Trang from Champa and paved the way for Buddhism in preceding centuries.

During two modern wars in Vietnam, many pagodas became living and working places of revolutionists. Very much Buddhists and followers joined the armies fighting againsts French colonists and the puppet states. For that reason, Buddhism lived under numerous restrictions of country controllers at the times. Climax of that were harsh policies from South-Vietnam government in 1963 what made a strong wave of objection. Various protests and processions occurred on streets, in which Khanh Hoa-borned Thich Quang Duc monk was burned himself. This event had a powerful impact on the international community about the war in Vietnam, both the historic stage and later. To 1967, four protests were held in Nha Trang with hundreds of protesters in total. Non-Buddhist people also participated.

After wartime, the Buddhism association’s established in 1982. Today, there are over 300 pagodas, nearly 1000 monks and nuns as well as 200 thousands followers. Few years later, a provincial Buddhism school’s also opened. 

In 1886, Long Son pagoda’s established by Thich Ngo Chi monk who practices Linji school of Buddhism from very young age. Wood, bamboo and thatch are used to build it at the time, on the highest place of Trai Thuy mountain where the Big Buddha statue sits today. Fourteen years later, this simply construction is collapsed by strong winds of a typhoon and moved downhill to current location then. Name of it also changes, from previous Dang Son Tu to Long Son Tu. That’re all full names with a last word Tu meaning “ the pagoda”. When chu quoc ngu (national language) replaces dominence of Chinese, it’s cut off and two first words stay back, to make people remember easier.   

Before goes to next life (in 1936), the founder gives all facilities of pagoda to a precursor organization of present-day Vietnam Buddhism Association, to renaissance religion in city. Since then, serve as headquarter of it until now. Thanks to the head role, events and activities are actively held in pagoda during the year, both Nha Trang and larger province scales.

Long Son pagoda actually has shape of one solid building in 1941 by efforts and money from Ton That Quyen leader monk and Vo Dinh Thuy, a local Buddhist. The largest addition is in 1963 when a 24m-tall Buddha statue built in the peak. This’s in top list of the country and so that, better known by tourists coming from different parts of planet.

 

 

 

 

Long Son pagoda leans back Trai Thuy mountain which is seen as one of four holy mountains of Nha Trang. From above, it has shape of a bat, symbolizing happiness and fortune in Vietnamese traditional thoughts. That’s reason why bats appear in pagoda’s decorations, such as in the Marble Mountains of Da Nang. Three other mountains are Canh Long (dragon) near the Ocenographic museum, Nui Mot (turtle) where the Catheral locates and Sinh Trung (elephant) to the Northwest of Dam market. Together with four directions bordering by water, Fengshui masters believe that the city has a persistent wealth. Following urban construction projects of French and later states, except Trai Thuy mountain, the rest has injuries. People need help from local to know where they’re around densed population areas.

This mountain also has its own history, we mean human-related that even longer than the most pagodas sitting in it. Right first years Viet populations hand over the land from Champa kingdom, a food storehouse is established here because of high location. Low-lying surrounds are easy to be inundated by flood water from Cai river during the wet season at the time. And also thanks to this quality, army leaders of some powers design boatyard for their marines and kings build a naval base to protect inner citadel Dien Khanh. Current name Trai Thuy originates from that military functions, trai means “the camp, base” and thuy means “water, water-related”.

In colonial period, Trinh Phong places his supportive solders in the mountain before begin the uprising against French colonists. Finally, efforts he makes are unsuccesful when have to face world’s most state-of-the-art weapons and betrayal of a deserter. The brave men then is captured, killed and banned to be honor in whatever ways but locals do not listen. They worship him in a temple in hidden and hold ceremony in his dealth day every year. Look at the big twin tree on your way to Dien Khanh citadel (or Da Lat), the temple stands under its shade.

 

 

Thich Quang Duc Statue

Thich Quang Duc is one of Vietnamese monks the world knows most. He’s born in 1897 in Van Ninh, far North of the city and goes into monastery at seven years old. During travel around the Central region to lecture Buddha teachings, this active Buddhist establish (or reconstruct) more than 30 pagodas. The last place he has the role of leader monk, in Phu Nhuan district of Ho Chi Minh. His life associates a bit to well-known the Celestial Lady pagoda at Hue.

In 1963, Thich Quang Duc burn himself in center of Saigon (former name of Ho Chi Minh city) to protest inequality policies to Buddhism and Buddhists of South-Vietnam state. His action touches the heart of people all over the globe, via realistic and emotional photo of an American war journalist. World’s view about Vietnam war changes a bit after and somehow contribute to the final success of Vietnamese to become one from two. By that, there’re lots of memorials built to honor him and his brave doing, from that time onwards. The statue park of Long Son pagoda is one, locates on the opposite of the main entrance. It’s usually closed therefore just can see through door and fence slits.

The Entrance gate

Alongside grand Buddha sitting atop mountain, visitors quickly impress by the entrance gate of Long Son pagoda. It stands by one of main roads of Nha Trang which’s always busy by vehicles coming and leaving city centre. Its height, more than 15 meters rising from a base of 6m-long width, name itself in club of largest entrance gates all over the region. Name of pagoda “Chua Long Son” is put above the central passageway, in a large size. Chu quoc ngu (national inscription) wins Chinese there, indicating young age of the building.

Featuring three passageways, each of them traditionally is used for different people that now not strictly follows. Right-hand side passageway for walking in, from human world to Buddha precint and vice versa to left-hand side one. The middle owns bigger sizes and serves monks, nuns as well as special guests like kings. Turn eyes up to the upper part, that features an excellent balance between traditional structures and state-of-the-art materials. The decorative patterns and holy animals still express their spirit in the new form. At the time of construction, monks hire groups of skillfull local artisans who work in years from pagoda to another.

Chinh dien (the Main hall) usually has most investions compared to any other constructions in a Vietnamese pagoda. Generally, it’s place of worship Buddhas, pagoda founder and his successors with several national heroes as well as the host of daily chanting, ceremonies and festivals. Not too different to sisters and brothers, the hall of Long Son pagoda plays same roles and absolutely one of chief highlights.

Behind entrance, visitors will see a big-size bronze urn where prayers plant burning incence sticks before pray. As rule, number of sticks must be an odd representing the world on the Earth (even number to the afterlife). One, three, five or more is personal choice but everybody’s recommended to stop at one only, to reduce harmful effects to human health and environment. Legs of the urn have four Rahu faces, with meaning to prevent fire.

Prior to take steps up to the main hall, tu tru (four pillars) and bao thap (stone stupa) also carry their own symbolic meaning. While pillars signify to permanent candles people offer to the Buddha, the stupa links to Buddha teachings from decorations to shapes. Normally, the type of building contains relic of Buddha (xa loi) but pagoda does not have that chance because of its young age. At the moment, a pagoda in Hanoi outskirt holds largest collection of xa loi throughout the country, up to 30. In the surrounding, bonsai trees’re added to soften blocks of cement and stone. They also represent longevity in local thought, a wish for whole complex will exist forever.

Seen from the outside, architecture of Long Son Buddha hall reminds about a king palace. Similarities, there’re double-roof tiled by yinyang emamelled tiles, multi-terrace and richness of decorative motifs of dragon which literally exclusive to emperor. If construct during feudal times, sure must have his approval but look back to the history, the hall’s just recently-built. The rule no longer survives. Dragons are set on two sides of staircase from first to second terraces and dragon face occupies a central panel nearby. The edge of roofs gets encrusted with “flying dragons”, specially in image of luong long chau nhat (two dragons face the sun).

Interior of the Buddha hall boasts of its spaciousness up to 1.600m2 filled by many cau doi (Chinese parrallel sentences) and an abundance of Buddha statues. The sentences have two styles: gooden inscriptions on black wood panel and black inscriptions on golden panel. Because Chinese not popular to people, a guide needed to understand beautiful meanings behind them. Collection of Buddha statues includes Shakyamuni, Lady Buddha, Mahasthamaprapta (Daishizhi) and Buddha with thousand hands and eyes. They’re arranged at different positions, showcasing different  roles. In 1st and 15th days of each lunar month, local citizens come here to pray for family, themselves and look for peace in mind.  

 

Long Son pagoda owns two magnificent Buddha statues, the Reclining Buddha behind the main hall and Gautama Buddha sitting on the pinnacle. Each one is a sight to behold, should not miss out in your trip to this Nha Trang’s must-see attraction. The first hides in lush trees and the anothers show off its grandiosity that visible from whichever parts of city. One of foremost reasons travelers come to visit the pagoda.

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To reach the pair of Buddha, people will walk up a flight of steps, up to almost 200 footsteps and more-than-footsteps. The stairway begins from right side of the main hall and ends in the mountaintop where the Bid Buddha locates. In nearly halfway, pedestrians have to turn left to see 17m-long Reclining Buddha  with a tasteful white painting. It exists there from 2003 and is built by money donation of many Buddhists.  The backdrop describes the scene of 45 practicioners praying together. Leave the statue and keep going, thap chuong (the Bell tower) nearby preserves one 1.5ton bronze bell, gift of followers from Hue in 2002.

 

 

 

After 193 steps, visitors have the chance to admire up-close the largest Sitting Buddha statue of the country with a height of 24 meters (including base). It dominates not only the mountaintop, but also Nha Trang skyline. Sited on first place the pagoda stands, this city pride’s built in 1963 and completed one year later. Its full name is Kim Than Phat To or shortly, the White Buddha by local inhabitants or Phat Dai “the Buddha’s altar”. With a spiritual aim to protect city from disasters, the Buddha faces the downtown and the jewel bay behind. That’s southwest, one of the best loved direction of Vietnamese for one building. The white color gets choosen by pagoda leaders and architects, representing the purity, good security and intelligence.

The Great Buddha has a virasana sitting poisition, on the blooming lotus. The flower owns numerous meanings in both Buddhism and Vietnamese traditional thoughts, seen as the national flower. Here, in Vietnam, it symbolizes overcoming difficulities while purity kept and always reach the beauty. Just like the lotus grows in muddy-dirty swamp but surpass the water and produce perfect flower then. Moreover, bevevolent heart of people. Turn the eyes down, there’re seven bas-reliefs in same size and same content about Thich Quang Duc monk. The brave man burns himself in a intersection of Ho Chi Minh city center in 1963 to protest the persecution of Budhists from Saigon-based state. This’s a part of the Buddhist crisis what make the world know better about Vietnam and war in its South. Because the interior of statue is also a place of worship, a bronze burn’s put in front to plant incence sticks. Formerly, prayers are allowed to do inside too but stop today to prevent fire and keep furnitures not darken by smoke. If like to walk in, everybody should wear long pants and shirt covering airmpits, navel.  

Note: Once again, local vendors may brother you to sell things. Politely refuse, if like to buy, take special note of the price.  

Several roads spreading from the Big Buddha allow to go further to see cityscape the above. They lead to other pagodas, yes, but long walk and without shade of tree. Return the parking and get your own vehicle to visit them will be more convenient. Chua Linh Phong (Hai Duc-23 Thang 10 intersection) and Chua Hai Duc (42 Hai Duc) are two recommendations to sightsee.

 

Distance from Long Son Pagoda to other attractions

From Long Son pagoda to Po Nagar Cham towers: 3km | From Long Son pagoda to the National Ocenographic Museum: 7.5km | From Long Son pagoda to I Resort mud bath: 7.5km | From Long Son pagoda to Thap Ba mud bath: 5.5km | From Long Son pagoda to Alexandre Yersin Museum: 2km | From Long Son pagoda to Suoi Do pagoda: 13.7km | From Long Son pagoda to the VinWonders Park (Vinpearl cable car): 7.5km | From Long Son pagoda to Hon Chong: 5.5km | From Long Son pagoda to Dam market: 1.5km

Location: 31A Thai Nguyen street, Phuoc Tan ward

Names: Christ the King Cathedral (official name), Nha Tho Nui (“the Mountain church”, most-used), Nha Tho Da (“the Stone church”), Nha tho Nga Sau because near a six-road intersection and Nha Trang cathedral after play the role as parish church of Nha Trang diocese in 1960.

Opening hours: 5:30 a.m to 5 p.m from Monday to Saturday, 5 to 7 a.m and 11 a.m to 4:30 p.m in Sunday.

Ticket: free

Parking: on the lowest terrace, Nguyen Trai street

What should I wear?: visitors should wear respectfully, below-knee pants and long shirts just like how local people and Christians do.

 

 

 

 

Construction of Nha Trang cathedral begins from September 1928, finishes in December 1941 and is managed by French colonists. To create the surface specious enough, they use 500 landmines. Nowadays it stands on a single and low mountain overlooking an intersection where six roads meet, known as Nga Sau. For that reason, local inhabitants use name of Nha Tho Nui “the mountain cathedral” to call this parish church. The last king of Vietnam Bao Dai visits here in 1933 in his trip to Nha Trang and same year, Chirst the King is selected as the patron saint. The person’s most merits in building it, Luis Vallet priest, passes away after four years it opens and gets buried right in the site. Local Christians see the tomb as a sacred place.  

Whole building’s made by reinforced concrete, from imported cement and local pieces of rock. Really not all by stone like how people feel about and the name “the stone church” people title it. To lighten the roof, French engineers use bamboo and latticework to construct. Generally, the cathedral has a tastefully Gothic style with façade featuring rose-patterned long windows and bell tower rising up to a height of 38 meters. There’re two bronze bells brought from France in turn in 1930s (still in use) and one watch with faces towards four directions, up there. The interior impresses with colorful stained glass paintings of Jesus Christ-related contents, colossal domes and an ornate central altar. Hallways outside draws many Instagrammers to produce nice social media posts. This is the most splendid Catholic sanctuary in province and probably, most visited.

On lower terrace, Ave Maria park with a solemn Maria altar is another highlight. The first place visitors will see before walk upstairs. It’s fully formed in 2011 on the occasion of Leopoldo Girelli Italian prelate comes to the church for the first time in 1975. The wall of main passageway leading to the cathedral is renovated to preserve the ash of Christians in 1987. The quadrennial later, twelve disciples and one Jesus Christ are added along it too. The last touch of human on this Nha Trang’s must-visit attraction is in 2012.

Through many centuries, the church is spiritual home of over 3.000 parishioners within nine parishes. Up to date, there’re fourty-one parish priests leading its all activities and current one starts his crucial role from 2014.

 

 

Mass in Nha Trang Cathedral will be held at 5 p.m in Saturday, at 5 a.m. 7 a.m , 9:30 a.m, 4:30 p.m and 6:30 p.m in Sunday.

Distance from Nha Trang Cathedral to other attractions

Nha Trang cathedral to Po Nagar Cham Towers: 2.7km | Nha Trang cathedral to Dam market: 1.5km | Nha Trang cathedral to Alexandre Yersin museum: 1.7km | Nha Trang cathedral to Skylight: 1.3km | Nha Trang cathedral to Hon Chong: 4km | Nha Trang cathedral to the Oceanographic museum: 5.6km | Nha Trang cathedral to the VinWonders Park: 6km | Nha Trang cathedral to I Resort: 7.3km | Nha Trang cathedral to Thap Ba Mud bath: 5.5km | Nha Trang cathedral to Long beach: 23km

This Nha Trang’s nature attraction is a pretty headland projecting into the bay, 10 minutes drive from city centre. It features multi-shaped outcrops sitting on top of each other which quality makes its name. The biggest rock’s called as “the husband stone”, having a same meaning in Vietnamese translation and related to local legend. The scenic site draws numerous couples to take their wedding photographs, most from 8th lunar month to Tet nguyen dan (new year festival). The time’s seen as a wedding season, links to Vietnamese agriculture calendar.

Standing on the promontory, visitors have the chance to see breath-taking landscapes. To the left, the white-sandy beach, tall hotels beyond coconut palm groves and towering-green Fairy lady mountain behind them. Distant islands off the coastline, in the front and right sides are nearly-perfect additions. There’re Hon rua (the Turtle island), two bird’s nest islands (traditionally known as Hon yen), Hon tre, the largest island of bay and Hon Do “the Red island”, no reliable basis to explain why it’s called like that. Should be careful while standing by the water, especially your little ones.  

Everyday Hon Chong promontory opens from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Ticket price’s 22.000 VND (nearly one USD) for adult and childrens above 1.4m, 11.000 VND for 1 to 1.4m-tall childrens and free of charge to local residents (have to show the ID). Like many other top-rated sightseeing place in Nha Trang, early morning and late afternoon are good times to avoid the crowds. Due to having a little tree shade around the rocks, it’s really hot in midday. Bring hat/cat and sun cream if visit in this span of day.

Shoes are the best footware to choose and remember to pack own swimsuit in bag. The stretch of fine sand nearby absolutely satisfies the beach thristy souls. For a bit romantic, watch sunset and sip drinks at café in surrounds. Half day in Hon Chong promontory (or cross the Cai river) will be easy to make.   

There’s two legends explaining for some rocks of special shape and unusual mark in Hon Chong promontory. The largest (or highest) rock has a giant handprint, believed that belongs to a fisherman who leave it while trying to hold on to keep from falling into the sea. Previously, he goes fishing in the headland and is dragged away by a big fish. Many other locals say that’s the handfrint of a guy left after he accidently gets slipped while passionately watching beautiful fairy ladies swimming in the sea. In another legend, it relates to a couple of husband and wife. Their boat’s washed ashore to the site by strong waves and to help wife survive, the husband presses very tight to the rock. The handful’s created then.

 

 

Other articles about Nha Trang>>>

The best things to do in Nha Trang

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All you need to know about Nha Trang beaches

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How to get from Cam Ranh Airport to Nha Trang (and vice versa)

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