A Cultural-Spiritual Adventure to Nha Trang's Pagoda's
January 1, 1970
by Jay Nair
Spread out across the coastal resort city of Nha Trang is more than 10 beaches, each unique in its own way, attracting different cultures and accommodating various activities for visitors around the globe.
Besides offering one of the best sunsets, Nha Trang also offers a journey into its more cultural corners. Here are some captivating architectures to explore in Nha Trang.
Pho Nagar Cham Towers
This temple is located at the North of Nha Trang city. Taken by its architecture, I was intrigued to see for myself the intrinsic carvings depicting the Gods. The temple is an active worship ground for Vietnamese Chinese and Buddhists. Also packed with tourists, be ready for a slight crowd. It was built by the Cham people who were of Hindu origins. The Cham people were known for their skills in sculpture and architecture. Their legacy can also be experienced in Cambodia and Thailand.
If you’re planning to enter each one of the Towers for a prayer or simply to view, do make sure to take off your shoes, as a sign of respect. It is also known that removing footwear outside a temple signifies a motive of letting go and leaving everything behind, in other words “to surrender” to a higher power.
If you are one who appreciates art, the temple offers many unique carvings for sale.
The temple is open until 5 pm, daily. Visiting it in the mornings may be the best to enjoy the surroundings of the temple – without the scorching hot sun! Be sure to explore all grounds of the premises as you can enjoy different views of Nha Trang city.
Long Son Pagoda
Located a mere 15-20 minutes from Pho Nagar, on the foothill of Trai Thuy Mountain is the Long Son Pagoda which is famous for its large white Buddha, and its 152 steps leading up to it. You will notice a distinctive Taoist architecture surrounding the walls of the Pagoda. Below the temple sits a monastery with a school for monks. There is also a humble looking restaurant which serves delicious vegetarian meals. Even if you are not a fan of meatless meals, do give this a try, it serves very fresh vegetarian dishes.
There is a gorgeous temple within the large white Buddha, it has artistic carvings and drawings on the walls. We spent some time just admiring the inspirational artwork.
Suoi Do Pagoda
I have to say that this was our ultimate favorite part of our trip to Nha Trang. It was a total unexpected hiking adventure! The temple is over 50 years old and was built in honor of the Goddess of mercy, Quan Am or also known as Quan Yin.
There are over 200 steps to the temple itself and a little more to the peak. I strongly recommend going to the very top for a breathtaking view! There are proper steps all the way, so you need not worry. No special hiking equipment needed, just sports shoes to make the journey more comfortable.
There is still construction going on at the very top, which will offer much more to see once the upgrades are completed. If you’re lucky like us, I hope you are greeted by a group of puppies when you reach the top. These furry creatures are harmless, very loveable and playful!
At the top, you’ll notice a small temple with the 3 Buddha’s inside (The Trikaya), and a large statue of Quan Am outside. Towards the left-hand side, you’ll notice a gorgeous streaming waterfall. Now here is where you can reward yourself with a gorgeous view of Nha Trang’s landscape.
You may be tempted to visit the temples on your way up, this is totally up to you, but we left these to be explored on our way down instead. This gave us the motivation to reach the top. Stop by the Suoi Do Pagoda on your way down. The monks here are very friendly but do not speak any English. They are, however, very warm and welcoming and would encourage you to see all parts of the temple.
You’re likely to want to enjoy the view and fresh air here, I’d say spare at least 3 hours here. It is also advisable to find a driver who is familiar with the route. As it is a little out of the city, it is a tad challenging to locate on Google Maps. The route towards the temple grounds is breathtaking. It truly is a gem waiting to be discovered.
I almost got a haircut from this guy! Where else can you find a fancy street barber like this?
The quaint and lovely Tran Phu Beach
With just one more day before flying home, we decided to spend it at the beach, enjoying the gorgeous sunset. Tranh Phu Beach holds the key to a nice quaint nightlife. There are several restaurant and bars along the beach itself, nothing too loud or hectic. So if you’re looking for a nice evening out with friends or even a date, it’s the perfect spot.
Most of the day was spent at Louisiane Brewhouse and Restaurant. The restaurant provides a great view of the beach and sunset. There are many other restaurants here, but you’ll have to visit this place at least once for a variety of unique beers, some only available at certain periods within the year.
Across the street is access to a large variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, massage parlors, and even a night market. For something a tad raunchier, the clubs here may just do the trick. You’ll find some pretty awesome live bands as well.
One thing you’ll likely to notice anywhere in Vietnam is how hardworking the people are. They are up very early in the morning and it is work until sundown. As language was a little bit of a challenge, we didn’t get to interact with many locals. The few that we were lucky enough to interact with mentioned that they had never been out of Vietnam before and it was only a dream for them to be able to visit abroad. They practiced their English by speaking to tourists. As much as you’d like to relax while having a foot massage or a pedicure, try to have a conversation with them, they have so much spirit and you’ll only be helping them improve their communication skills. They are a very kind community.
Mui Ne Sand Dunes & Love for the Vietnamese Pancake
Some locals recommended we visit the Sand Dunes located in Mui Ne. It is about a couple of hours out of Nha Trang. Time was of a challenge so we had to skip this, but if you’re visiting Nha Trang soon, do make allowance for it! It was said to be a unique and very fun experience of sand sledding. You can also choose from kitesurfing or renting motorbikes.
Lastly, here’s my all-time favorite dish in Vietnam. Although the goodness of Pho in all its broth richness is something you definitely should try, my favorite dish was the pancake with shrimp. Easily compared to a crepe and many refer to it as a “crepe-like pancake”, it is made out of flour, eggs and I’m very certain turmeric. Dipped in a sweet-spicy chili sauce, it’s the best starter for any meal. I ordered this for every meal!