Thien Mu Pagoda (namely Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda) is one of the most famous destinations in Hue city, Vietnam. The pagoda not only owns important architectural works, but also is known as the most sacred temple in the middle of Vietnam. Let’s start to explore Thien Mu Pagoda, how to get there, what to see and do, and what to pack.
Location and History of Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda is located on the hill of Ha Khe , on the northern bank of the Perfume River. It takes about 5 kilometers from the center to this beautiful area. Thien Mu Pagoda is situated in the middle of the charming countryside and the inspiration for many music and poetry’s works . The beauty of the temple is a combination of historical and cultural value, spiritual and artistic facts.
Being the oldest pagoda in Hue ancient city, Thien Mu Pagoda has a long history through wars and dynasties with an interesting legend.
The establishment of the pagoda was related with the early actions of the initial Nguyen Lord – Nguyen Hoang. Local people said that there was an beautiful lady from Heaven appeared who appeared on the hill every night and told that a true Lord would come to this place and build a pagoda for the peacefulness and prosperity of the country. As riding his horse upstream along the Huong River, Nguyen Hoang discovered a small hillock which terrain looked like a dragon turning its head and decided to build a pagoda here.
The pagoda has gone through some reconstruction and addded architechtural structures, which results in the giant tower as it is in nowadays. With the large scale and magnificent natural surroundings, Thien Mu Pagoda was considered as the most beautiful one at that time.
Things to see at Thien Mu Pagoda
- Phuoc Duyen Tower
Phuoc Duyen Tower is the top highlight of Thien Mu Pagoda. It was built in front of the pagoda with a height of 21m and including 7 floors. Each floor has the worship place of Buddha statues, the top one has a golden Buddha statue. The tower is an attractive architecture of Thien Mu Pagoda, which people can see it from long distance.
- Giant Turtle And Dai Hung Chung Bell
In the left and right corners, visitors can admire the beauty of the giant turtle, made by marble in 1675. Turtle is one of the four religious animals in Vietnam, the symbol of longevity and education. So that’s why some students come here to touch the head of the turtle to get good luck before taking examinations. The stele on the back of the turtle is a commemoration of Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu’s renovation. The text inscribed on the stele, penned by the Lord, presents the new buildings of the pagoda, commends Buddhism, as well as the monk, helped the Lord spread the faith throughout the area.
On the left side, there is a pavilion featuring a great bronze bell, named Dai Hong Chung. Made in 1710, the bell’s dimensions make it one of the most achievements in bronze work in Vietnam at that time. It weighs around 6,000 pounds, with 4.5 feet high, and is able to be hear up to 6 miles far away.
- Tam Quan Gate and Dai Hung Shrine
The main gate is called Trung Quan, the left is Khong Quan, and Gia Quan is in the right. The entrance has statues of holy guardians.
Passing through the Tam Quan gate, you will reach Dai Hung shrine. The temple that people pray and worship three Buddha statues, symbols of the past, present and future, three lives of human beings. Ii is the place to display the giant bell with a 2.5 meters heights and more than 2 tons of weights.
- Austin Car and The Stupa
Walking to the backyard of the pagoda, we will see a wonderful rockery stones. It is not only for decoration but also to be an air conditioner. In order to make weather cooler in summer and warmer in the winter, there is a large yard with many fantastic bonsai trees. There is an Austin car a bit further. It is the car of Thich Quang Duc Monk who burnt himself in 1963 against Ngo Dinh Diem Regime to ask for the freedom of people to follow Buddhism.
The last place you shouldn’t miss in the pagoda is the stupa. The grave of the first monk Thich Don Hau. Following the tradition, when normal people died, we put them in coffins to bury. However, with the monks, we do the cremation.
Entrance fee and opening hours
Thien Mu Pagoda is a Buddhist temple so there is no entrance fee to visit. It is free to explore this beautiful pagoda. You just need to pay the parking fees near the Thien Mu pagoda. The price is about VND 5,000 for a bike and VND 10,000 for a scooter.
It is quite easy and flexible for a visit time at Thien Mu pagoda. If you would like to avoid the crowd and have good views at the pagoda, you should come here from 6 am to 8 am. If you would like to enjoy the beautiful moments of Sunset on the Perfume River at the pagoda, you should be here at around 5 pm.
How to get to Thien Mu Pagoda?
There are many kinds of transportation to get to Thien Mu Pagoda.
- By boat: You can take a dragon boat along Perfume River to reach Thien Mu Pagoda with passing through river bank with beautiful scenery. It takes about 30 minutes
- By car/taxi/cyclo/motorbike: Go along Kim Long street and go ahead Nguyen Phuc Chu street. It takes about 10 minutes with 2km from city centre.
Because it is a sacred pagoda, you should wear elegant and not too revealing clothes. You should not talk too loud or say obscene stories when visiting the temple.