Wonderful Vietnam

By | Jul 17, 2017 | Views: 327
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(By Tsem Rinpoche and Pastor David)

Vietnam is a thin strip of land that borders with China up in the North, and Laos and Cambodia to the West. It was once a lesser-known travel destination but Vietnam has since become widely popular in recent years.

In fact, Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi is consistently ranked among the world’s top 10 holiday destinations. Since the late 80s, Vietnam has opened its doors to foreign tourists along a popular trail of attractions. You easily find backpackers and tourists even in the most remote Vietnamese province of Ha Giang. While Vietnam has been scarred by war, its exposure to French, American and Chinese cultures has left indelible marks on the country and added to its rich tapestry. A stunning and diverse landscape, mouthwatering cuisine, beautiful beaches and a vibrant shopping scene are all great reasons to travel to the fast-developing modern Communist state.

 

Regions of Vietnam

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Vietnam is geographically a part of Southeast Asia and the easternmost country in the Indochina region. The shape of the country resembles the letter ‘S’ and its long coastline lies along the South China Sea. The country borders China in the north, Laos along the long western border and Cambodia in the southwest. Vietnam has a population of 95.4 million people (in 2017), making it number 13 on the list of the most populous countries in the world.

Vietnam is divided into 58 provinces (Vietnamese: tỉnh), and there are 5 centrally-controlled municipalities existing at the same level as provinces: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Da Nang and Hai Phong.

A map of Vietnam's regions. Click to enlarge.

A map of Vietnam’s regions. Click to enlarge.

Vietnam has eight regions:

  1. Northwestern Region (Tây Bắc, Dong Bac)
  2. Northeastern region (Đông Bắc Bộ)
  3. Greater Ha Noi/ Red River Delta (Hà Nội Kinh-Dong Bang Song Hong)
  4. North Central Coast (Bắc Trung Bộ)
  5. South Central Coast (Nam Trung Bộ)
  6. Central Highlands (Tây Nguyên)
  7. Southeastern (Đông Nam Bộ)
  8. Southwestern region, in the Mekong River Delta (Tây Nam Bộ-Đồng Bằng Sông Cửu Long)

 

Religion in Vietnam

Vietnam is home to many religions, including Caodai, a monotheistic religion

Vietnam is home to many religions, including Caodai, a monotheistic religion

There are several established religions in Vietnam (including those arising from Vietnamese folk beliefs), which has been historically tied with the doctrines of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism (collectively called the three teachings or tam giáo). According to official 2014 statistics by the Vietnamese government, there are 24 million people who are identified with one of the major organised religions out of a population of 90 million. Of these, 11 million (12.2%) are Buddhists, 6.2 million (6.8%) are Catholics, 4.4 million (4.8%) are Caodaists (an indigenous folk religion), 1.4 million (1.6%) are Protestants, and 1.3 million (1.4%) are Hoahaoists. In addition, there are 75,000 Muslims, 7,000 Bahais, 1,500 Hindus and other smaller groups (less than 1%). Traditional folk religions (worship of gods, goddesses, and ancestors) has also experienced a revival since the 1980s.

 

Best Time to Travel to Vietnam

Low Season(April – June, September–November)
This is usually the best time to travel throughout Vietnam as tourists and visitor numbers is at its lowest, and prices of goods and services are lower. However, be warned that the central and northern coastline are frequently lashed by typhoons until November.

Mid Season(December – March)
During the Tet Vietnamese New Year festival (around Jan – Feb), the entire nation is on the move and prices experience spikes. Central Vietnam does get cool weather and visitors can expect cold conditions up north. However in the south, clear skies and sunshine are the norm.

High Season (July – August)
This is the period when tourists flock to Vietnam and as a result, prices go up by as much as 50% especially along the coastal areas and it would be wise to book hotels well in advance to avoid disappointment. All of Vietnam at this time, except for the far north, is hot and humid, with the summer monsoon bringing downpours.

 

Brief History of Vietnam

Nguyen Emperor Khai Dinh

Nguyen Emperor Khai Dinh

Vietnam’s story is a narrative of difficulty, with its history filled with a succession of wars, colonization and rebellion. In its earlier history, the Chinese imperial forces occupied Vietnam for over a thousand years. At different points in history, Vietnam was torn asunder by civil wars and invaded by the Song Dynasty from China, the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Champa Empire, the Ming Dynasty, the Dutch, the Qing Dynasty, the French and then American forces.

Mandarins of Nguyen Dynasty

Mandarins of Nguyen Dynasty

Vietnam managed to fend off many invaders and remained independent but she was still a tributary state to China until the time the French came and colonized her. The last emperors of Vietnam were those of the Nguyễn Dynasty that ruled from the capital at Huế between 1802 to1945. However, after 1884, the fall of Tự Đức led to a succession crisis that opened an opportunity for the French to colonize Vietnam. Both the Chinese and French left a lasting impact on Vietnamese culture with Confucianism being the heart of its social etiquette, and the French significantly influencing its culinary history.

Capture of Lang Son by French forces

Capture of Lang Son by French forces

After the short-lived Japanese occupation, the communist Việt Minh regime under Hồ Chí Minh resumed their fight against the French. In 1945, the last Emperor, Bảo Đại abdicated the throne and a proclamation of independence ensued. By then, the majority of French had left the country but they returned a year later to resist Vietnamese independence until a decisive defeat in 1954 at Điện Biên Phủ. The country then became divided at the 17th parallel latitude with the Communist occupying in the north while the south was ruled by Ngô Đình Diệm who declared himself as the President of the Republic of Vietnam.

The Viêt Công backed North and the Republic South eventually clashed in what became known as the Vietnam War, although the Vietnamese themselves called it the American War. In the years prior to the war, the Unites States of America had progressively increased aid to South Vietnam. The aid included a vast expansion of American troops. This was part of President Kennedy’s fight of what he regarded to be a communist insurgency. It was supposed to be a quick military operation for the US troops but it dragged on until a cease-fire agreement of 1973. Two years later, a North Vietnamese tank drove defiantly into the Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and ended the war as South Vietnam fell to the communist. Throughout the war, it was estimated somewhere between 800,000 to 3 million Vietnamese and over 55 thousand Americans perished.

The American War is just one of many wars fought throughout Vietnam’s history but it was one of the most brutal. Such was the damage that today, over two thirds of the country’s population was born after 1975, after the war ended.

During the American War, the South Republic was overrun by the communist Viet Cong despite American aid

During the American War, the South Republic was overrun by the communist Viet Cong despite American aid

 

Vietnamese Culture

Traditional dress in Vietnam

Traditional dress in Vietnam

Vietnam’s bronze age flourished during the Đông Sơn period who were skilled in wet rice cultivation, fishing and sailing in canoes dug out from barks of tree trunks. Apart from that, the people of that era developed expertise in casting bronze and were especially famous for their bronze war drums. However, the Vietnamese people’s national consciousness and identity are deeply rooted in the Chinese culture drawing on elements from Confucianism and Taoism.

The foundation of Vietnamese society is structured around làng or ancestral villages and all Vietnamese celebrate a common ancestral day, which is on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month. There is undeniable influence of Chinese influence brought by Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Hainan immigrants. The national religion of Vietnam is Buddhism and it is clear to see its impact upon popular culture and identity.

However, these days, the Vietnamese government is taking a more active role in shaping the Vietnamese consciousness and culture via the government-controlled media and ethnic-based programs.

 

Languages in Vietnam

The romanised Vietnamese alphabet is used throughout the country

The romanised Vietnamese alphabet is used throughout the country

The national language of Vietnam is a tonal Mon–Khmer language which is spoken by the majority of the population known as Tiếng Việt. Vietnamese originally used Chinese characters in its written form. Then in the 13th century, the Vietnamese developed its own characters and called it Chữ nôm. The romanized Vietnamese alphabet used today is called Quốc ngữ, which was developed by the Jesuit Alexandre de Rhodes and several other Catholic missionaries in the 17th century. Quốc ngữ became widespread and was instrumental in bringing literacy to the masses in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s diverse minority groups also speak a diversity of languages including Tày, Mường, Cham, Khmer, Chinese, Nùng, and H’Mông. Due to colonial rule, many older and educated Vietnamese speak French as a second language. Hence, Vietnam is a full member of the Francophonie, and there is a revival of interest in this language. In recent years, Vietnam’s contact with Western nations has increased due to trade, tourism and the Internet resulting in English becoming a more popular choice as a second language alongside French and in some schools completely replacing the French language.

 

Vietnamese Cuisine

A popular noodle dish known as Pho

A popular noodle dish known as Pho

Vietnamese cuisine is traditionally made up of a combination five main taste ‘elements’, which is known as ngũ vị. These elements consist of metal for spicy, wood for sour, fire for bitter, water for salty and earth for sweet. Vietnamese cooking includes ingredients like fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. In addition, Vietnamese cooking commonly uses spices like lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime and basil leaves. In general, traditional Vietnamese cooking uses a lot of fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and a lot of herbs and vegetables and is considered one of the healthiest cuisines.

Northern Vietnamese cooking is less spicy than southern dishes. This is due to the difficulty in procuring spices in the past because of the colder climate in the north. Black pepper is deliberately used in place of chilies as the ingredient to make the dish spicy. Northern Vietnamese cooking also uses predominantly seafood. Most popular Vietnamese dishes, such as bún riêu and bánh cuốn, originated in the north and was brought down south to central and southern Vietnam by migrants.

Vietnamese spring rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls

Bahn Mi

Bahn Mi

Quang Noodles

Quang Noodles

 

20 Popular Destinations in Vietnam

 

1. Saigon Opera House, Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Opera House

Saigon Opera House

The elegant Saigon Opera House which was also known as the Municipal Theater stands right in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. This old building was one of the more impressive structures in all of old Saigon. The French architect Eugene Ferret built this opera house in resplendent style reminiscent of the French Third Republic in 1898. The opera house stands just two meters above street level and has 2 layers of doors to prevent street noise from penetrating the interior.

The opera house stands on the city’s central axis, which is in parallel to the metro station and the roundabout right in the front of Ben Thanh market. When viewed from afar, the Opera House resembles an ornate pair of city gates. The architecture of the building showcases stone-carved ornaments, classical statues at the entrance, elegant chandeliers and a shiny granite floor of the lobby, which are all imported materials from France. The 468 seats of the oval auditorium were positioned in such a way that each seat has an excellent view of the stage. The wall is lined with material that absorbs sound so it is echo-free and preserves the sound quality from within theatre.

Naturally, the opera house is the venue for numerous high profile events and cultural and entertainment activities within the city. It is recognized to be a national relic in 2012 and is one the most popular destinations for those visiting Ho Chi Minh City.

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How to get there

The opera house stands right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and this makes it accessible via taxi, buses and motorcycle taxis from any part of the city. Airport shuttle bus no.49 ply the routes between the airport and the city center.

Address: 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone: +84 862 7044 50
Website: https://ticketbox.vn/aoshow/en
Opening hours: 12:00–23:59 daily
Entrance fee: Ticket prices are available in the ticketbox website.

 

Accommodation

1. Opera Hotel
Address: R2-27,28, Nam Quang 1 area, Phu My Hung, District 7, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
Phone: +84 285 4123 919

2. Little Saigon Boutique Hotel
Address: 36 Bis/2 Le Loi Boulevard, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 835 2184 64

3. Silverland Sakyo Hotel
Address: 10A Le Thanh Ton St., Ben Nghe Ward, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 283 8295 295

 

2. Giac Lam Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City

Giac Lam Pagoda. Click to enlarge.

Giac Lam Pagoda. Click to enlarge.

This temple was built in 1744 and is believed to be the oldest in the city. Giac Lam has the atmosphere of an old Vietnamese temple surrounded by serene landscaped gardens. The temple’s name in Chinese characters (覚林寺) literally means ‘Feel the Woods Temple’ and the Bodhi tree stands in the front garden was a gift from a Sri Lankan monk in 1953. Buddhist prayers are done daily from 4am to 5am, 11am to noon, 4pm to 5pm and 7pm to 9pm.

A white statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat or the Goddess of Mercy standing on a lotus embodies ideals of purity. Typical of Vietnamese Buddhist temples, one can observe aspects of both Taoism and Confucianism elements. The pagoda with an iconic bronze bell is a pilgrimage spot for the sick and elderly as it is believed that when struck, one’s prayers would be fulfilled.

The inner sanctum in the main hall is filled with ancient gilded Buddha statues. On the central dais at the back of the shrine sits Adida Buddha, recognizable with his multi-colored halo. There is also a prominent laughing Buddha surrounded by five children and the Ameda, the Buddha of Infinite Light, Compassion and Wisdom. This historic pagoda temple is just 3km from Cholon and can be reached by taxi or motorbike taxi (xe om).

Giac Lam Pagoda

Giac Lam Pagoda

The inner sanctum of the main prayer hall

The inner sanctum of the main prayer hall

 

How to get there

This historic pagoda temple is just 3km from Cholon and can be reached by taxi or motorbike taxi (xe om). Cholon is the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City.

Address: 565 Lạc Long Quân, phường 10, Tân Bình, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 838 6539 33
Opening Hours: 05:00 – 12:00 and 14:00 – 20:00 daily
Entrance Fee: No

 

Accommodation

1. Khải Hoàn Apartment
Address: Lau1, 624 Lạc Long Quân, Phường 5, Quận 11, Tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 839 7564 20

2. Huy Hoang Hotel
Address: 117 Trương Công Định, phường 14, Tân Bình, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

3. Lilly Hotel
Address: 1 Bàu Cát, phường 14, Tân Bình, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 394 9313 9

 

3. Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnel

Cu Chi Tunnel

The Cu Chi tunnels is a legendary underground structure of the 1960s, for its role in maintaining control of the rural area around 30km to 40km radius from Ho Chi Minh city. At the height of the Vietnam War, this tunnel system stretched from the city to the Cambodian border. In fact, the Cu Chi district alone had a network of over 250km that is spread out all over the countryside. This network of tunnels that at some parts go several storeys deep into the earth, consists of innumerable trapdoors, living spaces, storage areas, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens.

These networks of tunnels at Cu Chi represent the tenacious spirit of the Vietnamese people. There is little evidence today of the bitter fighting, bombing and utter destruction that enveloped Cu Chi during the war. These days you can only see it when one digs deeper below the surface and descend into these caves. Vietnamese school children and Communist Party cadres frequent these caves to pay homage to the indomitable spirit of the people.

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How to get there

Cu Chi Tunnels is 75 kilometers northwest or a two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, it would be best to arrange a taxi or a car specially arranged through an agent.

Address: Ấp Phú Hiệp, Phú Hiệp, Phú Mỹ Hưng, Củ Chi, Bến Tre 733800, Vietnam
Hours: 07:00–17:00 daily
Phone: +84 837 9488 30
Entrance Fee: 110,000 VND per person for entrance

 

Accommodation

1. Les Hameaux de l’Orient
Address: Hamlet Rang, Trung Lap Thuong, Cu Chi, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 838 9268 39

2. Ibis Saigon Airport
Address: 2 Hong Ha Street, Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh City 700000, Vietnam
Phone:: +84 838 4855 56

3. Quang Trung Hotel
Address: 1118 Quang Trung, 8, Gò Vấp, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 989 0701 44

 

4. War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City

War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum

This museum is highly popular with tourists and was formerly known as the Museum of The Chinese and American War Crimes and is located in the building that was once housed the US Information Service. There are several similar museums but few that convey the brutality of the war and the sufferings of the civilian population, as effectively as this one. The evidence of atrocities on display in this museum is well known but rarely do Western audience hear the story as told by victims of US military action during the war. Although the narrative in the museum is biased but most of the disturbing photographs that illustrate US brutality were actually from US sources, including the infamous My Lai Massacre.

The compound outside the museum is dotted with American armored trucks, wartime artillery, bombs and infantry weapons. There is also a corner dedicated to displays of the French and South Vietnamese prisons at Phu Quoc and Con Son Island. There are old artifacts used for punishment, from that era including the French guillotine and the cruel ‘tiger cages’ that were used to imprison Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists) prisoners.

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The ground floor of the museum is dedicated to collection of wartime posters and photographs that showcase antiwar sentiment. In contrast to the horrors that are displayed elsewhere in the museum, this is a welcome change. The photos on display upstairs are jarring and they should proof of children burnt and disfigured by US bombing and napalm attacks, an exhibit that would shake even the most hardened war-enthusiast. Aside from evidences of atrocities, rare experimental weapons that were once highly classified, are on display, like the flechette, an artillery shell filled with a thousand of tiny darts designed to inflict maximum damage on groups of people.

Then, there is the poignant Requiem Exhibition by the legendary war photographer Tim Page that brings together the works of various photographers killed during the war on both sides including Larry Burrows and Robert Capa. All the exhibits in this museum are captioned in Vietnamese and English.

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How to get there

The War Remnants Museum is a war museum at 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3 of the city. Taxis, busses and motorbike taxis are available. Bus routes 14, 28 & 06 ply the major roads that lead to the museum.

Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Hours: 07:30–18:00
Phone: +84 283 9305 587
Website: http://warremnantsmuseum.com/
Entrance fee: 15,000 VND

 

Accommodation

1. Sonnet Saigon Hotel
Address: 14 Trương Định, phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 283 9301 999

2. Aristo Saigon Hotel
Address: 3A Vo Van Tan St District 3, phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 862 6825 55

3. Hotel des Arts Saigon MGallery Collection
Address: 76 78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Str, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh, 070000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 283 9898 888

 

5. The Old Quarter, Hanoi

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter

It is said that right in the heart of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam lies a centuries-old quarter, which embodies the very soul of the city. The locals affectionately call this place “Hanoi – 36 districts” or “Hanoi – 36 Old Streets” or just simply as “Hanoi’s old quarter”.

Getting to the Old Quarter from Noi Bai International Airport is about a 45-minute taxi ride and a 15-minute taxi ride from the Hanoi Train Station. This top tourist spot lies between the Hoan Kiem Lake, Long Bien Bridge, the old city rampart and the old citadel walls. The spot used to be a snake and alligator-infested swamp that eventually became a complex of workshop villages. Over time, this place developed a reputation as a vibrant trading center of the Red River delta. Today, the Old Quarter is known for its old and unique architecture, vibrant history, culture and a reputation for a variety of handicraft wares.

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The reputation of the Old Quarter over centuries has attracted many craftsmen to live and work here. These craftsmen and merchants producing similar goods gathered together in guilds and a system of production and transportation that developed over time. During the French colonization, the Old Quarter became a prosperous marketplace for trading between local and faraway merchants from China, India and France.

Today, tourists walk up and down these old streets to discover hidden treasures and interesting wares. Here is a general guide where one might find different things in Old Quarter:

  • For fine China and porcelain ware, go to Bat Su St.
  • For roasted fish, go to Cha Ca St.
  • For silver and fine jewellery, go to Hang Bac St.
  • For women’s accessories, go to Cau Go St.
  • For shoes and sandals, go to Hang Dau St.
  • For silk, go to Hang Gai St.
  • For a variety of fruits, go to To Tich St.
  • For combs, go to Hang Luoc St.
  • For earthen jars, go to Hang Chinh St.
  • For tour services, go to Ma May St.
  • For candies, dry apricot and other delicacies, go to Hang Duong St.
  • For fried and roasted sour pork hash, go to Tam Thuong lane on Hang Bong Street St.
  • For bamboo products, go to Hang Buom St.

On top of that, local city-dwellers and tourists would frequent the night market that is held along four pedestrian streets – Hang Dao, Hang Ngang, Hang Duong and Dong Xuan Streets. The Old Quarter’s night market takes place in the evenings on Fridays to Sundays. The night market offers exotic street delicacies and local souvenirs at an incredibly affordable price.

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How to get there

In order to reach the Old Quarter from Noi Bai International Airport, it is about 45-minute taxi ride and 15-minute taxi ride from the Hanoi Train Station. Generally, bus routes no.9 passes through the Old Quarter that originate from Bo Ho to Cau Giay.

Address: 14 Yên Thái, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

 

Accommodation

1. Hanoi Old Quarter Hotel
Address: 2 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 9261 850

2. Hanoi La Siesta Diamond Hotel & Spa
Address: 32 Lò Sũ, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 9351 632

3. Essence Palace Hotel
Address: 27-29 Gia Ngư St., Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Dist., Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 9262 135

 

6. One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda

This One Pillar Pagoda is an ancient temple built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong who reigned between 1028 to 1054 CE. It was written in the imperial annals, the childless emperor dreamt that he met Quan The Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy, who placed in his arms, a male heir. Not long after, Ly Thai Tong married a peasant girl and gave birth to a son that became his heir. In gratitude, the emperor built the pagoda in the year 1049 CE.

The pagoda was built from wood upon a single stone pillar and was constructed to resemble a lotus flower that represents the bodhisattva, a symbol of purity which rises above a sea of suffering. The last act of the French before leaving Hanoi in 1954 was to destroy the original One Pillar Pagoda. However, the new government rebuilt the pagoda.

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Quan The Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy

Quan The Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy

 

How to get there

The One Pillar Pagoda is in the park that lies behind the museum near Ba Dinh Square and this is along Ong Ich Kiem Street in the Ba Dinh District. This is right in the city, accessible via buses, taxis and motor taxis as well.

Address: Chùa Một Cột, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 968 0865 29
Hours: 08:00-11:30 daily & 14:00-16:00 Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun

 

Accommodation

1. Hanoi Delight Hotel
Address: 93 Đội Cấn, Ba Dinh District, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 914 8899 59

2. Kuretake INN Kimma
Address: 132 Kim Mã, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 439 8777 77

3. Hotel 24 Kim Ma
Address: No 65 Kim Ma street, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 902 8893 33

 

7. Imperial City of Thang Long, Hanoi

Thang Long Imperial City

Thang Long Imperial City

The imperial city of Thang Long was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 and was opened to the public in 2012. The Imperial Citadel was the center of Vietnamese military power for over a millennium. There are ongoing excavation digs of the ancient palaces, old pavilions and imperial gates, littered throughout the city. These ancient sites are complemented with military command bunkers from the Vietnam War era and the exhibition showcase maps and 1960s radio equipment used by wartime Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap.

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How to get there

Thang Long is situated right in the heart of Hanoi, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. Therefore, it is accessible with busses, taxis and motor taxi as well.

Address: Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: +84 904 4811 57
Entrance Fee: 30,000 VND per person
Hours: 08:00 to 17:00 daily except Mondays.

 

Accommodation

1. Thang Long Espana Hanoi Hotel
Address: 63 Nguyễn Trường Tộ, Nguyễn Trung Trực, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 7163 233

2. Thang Long 2 Hotel
Address: 52 – 62 Cau Go Hoan Kiem – Hanoi, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: +84 438 2623 30

3. Sạn Thăng Long Opera
Address: 1C Phố Tông Đản, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 8244 776

 

8. Hoa Lo Prison Museum, Hanoi

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

The historic Hoa Lo Prison Museum was ironically nicknamed ‘Hanoi Hilton’ during the war by the American prisoners of war (POWs). The French built Hoa Lo Prison in 1896 and originally it was intended to house 450 inmates but by the 1930s there were close to 2000 prisoners. However, Hoa Lo was not a secure prison and hundreds of inmates escaped its walls over the years, many of whom squeezed through the sewer grates.

Most of the displays showcase the usage of the prison up to the mid-50s, which focus on the Vietnamese independence struggle from the French colonial masters. The relic from that period was the menacing French guillotine, used to behead countless Vietnamese revolutionaries and freedom fighters. Aside from that, there is also a display that focuses on the American pilots who were imprisoned at Hoa Lo during the war. Amongst them is Pete Peterson, who was the first US ambassador to a unified Vietnam in 1995 and Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for the US presidency in 2008. The museum also had McCain’s flight suit on display alongside a photograph of Hanoi locals rescuing him from Truc Bach Lake after being shot down in 1967.

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How to get there

The best way to get to Hoa Lo Prison is via taxi to 1 Pho Hoa Lo, which is right at the corner of Pho Ha Ba Trung, south of Hoan Kiem Lake on the outskirts of the French Quarter.

Address: 1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 439 3422 53
Entrance Fee: 10,000 VND
Hours: 08:00 – 17:00

 

Accommodation

1. Somerset Grand Hanoi
Address: No 49 Hai Ba Trung Street, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 9342 342

2. Kuretake Inn Tho Nhuom 84 Hotel
Address: 84 Thợ Nhuộm, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 7847 777

3. Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi
Address: 83 Lý Thường Kiệt, Cửa Nam, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 438 2228 00

 

9. Ngoc Son Mountain, Hanoi

Ngoc Son Mountain

Ngoc Son Mountain

This name literally means the ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ and this is Hanoi’s most popular temple. This temple was built on a small island in the northern side of Hoan Kiem Lake and is connected to the shore by a red bridge built in classical Vietnamese style. This temple is dedicated to the triune of legendary Vietnamese personages – General Tran Hung Dao who was famed for defeating the Mongols in the 13th century, La To (a patron saint of physicians) and the erudite scholar Van Xuong.

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Statues of General Tran Hung Dao, La To, and Van Xuong

Statues of General Tran Hung Dao, La To, and Van Xuong

 

How to get there

In order to get there, head towards the Old Quarter and specifically to the main post office, which is just next to the lake. Tickets to the temple are purchased at a booth located on the left-hand side before you cross the bridge.

Address: Dinh Tien Hoang St., Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 839 1005 55
Entrance fee: 20,000 VND
Hours: 08:00 – 17:00 Daily

 

Accommodation

1. Hanoi HM Boutique Hotel
Address: Số 3 Hàng Dầu, P. Hàng Bạc, Q. Hoàn Kiếm, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 24 3266 8586

2. Hanoi Pearl Hotel
Address: 6 Bảo Khánh Lane, Hàng Trống, Hà Nội, Hàng Trống, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 9380 666

3. Golden Sun Villa Hotel
Address: 68 Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phone: +84 243 9386 269

 

10. Imperial City of Hue, Central Vietnam

Imperial City of Hue

Imperial City of Hue

The imperial complex of Hue has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the city of Hue in central Vietnam. The first king of the Nguyen Dynasty, Gia Long established Hue as his capital in 1802. The dynasty ruled Vietnam under nine successive monarchs until 1945.

The sprawling imperial complex consists of hundreds of buildings and ruins like the Forbidden Purple City, which was once the royal residence of the imperial family but was badly damaged during the Vietnam War. The Imperial City also consists of the royal mausoleum, pagodas, temples, flag tower, library and the museum itself.

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The city of Hue lies along the Huong or Fragrant River and is approximately a three-hour drive north of Da Nang. Among the great ancient monuments that stand within the imperial city is the Ngo Mon Gate, which was once exclusively used by the royal family and their eunuch servants. There is also the resplendent tomb of Emperor Minh Mang and Tu Duc that are worth visiting. Many of these buildings and monuments surrounding the imperial buildings were built in the early 19th century and were modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City. The outer wall of the Imperial City is 6 meters high and runs for two-and-a-half kilometers long around the complex.

The entire complex is literally an open-air museum with its rich and intricate architecture and traditional landscaping. Hue is historically rich and worth a visit. However, one should avoid Hue during the rainy months from October to December as the northeastern monsoon brings torrential downpours. In addition, this small city offers its famous Imperial-style cuisine that is not to be missed.

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How to get there

There are domestic flights or trains to Hue from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Address: Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
Phone: +84 234 3501 143
Hours: 08:00–17:30

Entrance Fee – Single:

  1. Hue Imperial Palace (Imperial City – Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities) ~ 150,000 VND
  2. Tombs: Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh ~ 100,000 VND
  3. Tombs: Gia Long Tomb, Thieu Tri Tomb, Dong Khanh Tomb; Hue Nam Shrine ~ 40,000 VND
  4. An Dinh Residence; Nam Giao esplanade ~ 20,000 VND

Entrance Fee – Group:

  1. Hue Imperial Palace (Imperial City – Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities) ~ 30,000 VND
  2. Tombs: Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh 20,000 VND
  3. Group of 3 sites: Hue Imperial Palace – Minh Mang Tomb – Khai Dinh Tomb ~ 55,000 VND
  4. Group of 4 sites: Hue Imperial Palace – Minh Mang Tomb – Tu Duc – Khai Dinh Tomb ~ 70,000 VND

 

Accommodation

1. Sunny C Hotel
Address: 25 7, Hai Ba Trung Street, Hue 530000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 543 4966 2

2. Gold Hotel Hue
Address: 28 Ba Trieu Street, Hue, Vietnam
Phone: +84 947 6155 99

3. Hong Thien Hotel 1
Address: 35 / 6 Chu Van An, Hue 084, Vietnam
Phone: +84 234 3947 575

 

11. Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Hang Son Doong

Hang Son Doong

Hang Son Doong literally means Mountain River Cave and it is the world’s largest cave system and naturally, it offers some of the most spectacular subterranean views in all of South East Asia. In the past, it was prohibited to enter the cave but access was approved in June 2013 by the Vietnamese president for a specialist operator Son Trach to lead tours.

The cave is in a remote area such that it is not possible for it to be a day-trip destination. The only way such a trip can be possible is if it is a seven-day group expedition with around 16 porters assiting the operator. It costs US$3,000 per person and a team of 10 trekkers is required on each trip. This gigantic cave was actually recently discovered in the early 90’s when Ho Khanh, a hunter who lived in the jungle settlement near the Vietnam-Laos border, took shelter in it. In 2009, it was confirmed as the world’s largest cave when British explorers returned with Ho Khanh. The principal cavern is more than 5km long, 200m high and, in some sections of the cave, 150m wide.

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Reaching this massive cavern is a challenge in itself and to do that, you have to cross over a vast mountainous barrier called the ‘Great Wall of Vietnam’, which divides the cave. Once this barrier is crossed, the scale of the massive cavern is revealed and even big enough for a battleship to sail through. There are sections on the ceiling that are punctured which allows sunlight to shine through illuminating the stunning formation of stalagmites that cover the floor. This is aptly called the Cactus Garden. Some stalagmites tower over 80 meters high and massive cave pearls measuring 10cm in diameter have been found in these caves. These magnificent pillars were formed by centuries of crystallization as moisture from the cave ceilings drip and mix with grains of sand. On the floor of the cave features ethereal rimstone pools which are also formed from drips of water from the ceiling of the cave.

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How to get there

Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park is a protected area in north-central Vietnam bordering the Hin Namno Reserve in Laos. The area is only accessible via Oxalis Adventure Tours.

Address: Phong Nha Commune, Son Trach Village, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam
Hours: 7:30 – 12:00 & 13:30 – 17:30 (Monday – Saturday)
Phone: +84 232 3677 678
Email: contact@oxalis.com.vn

 

Accommodation

1. Thien Thanh Hotel
Address: ĐT20, Phong NHA, Sơn Trạch, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Phone:: +84 232 3677 069

2. Jungle Boss Homestay
Address: ĐT20, Phong NHA, Sơn Trạch, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Phone: +84 943 7480 41

3. Thanh Tam Restaurant and Hotel
Address: Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Sơn Trạch Town, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Phone: +84 973 5516 81

 

12. Halong Bay, Northeastern Vietnam

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Halong Bay was designated World Heritage Site in 1994 and has been made famous for its picturesque landscape being used as backdrop for a recent slew of blockbuster movies such as Pan, Kong, Skull Island and some others. Halong Bay consists of a spectacular string of islands that are scattered with wave-eroded grottoes that make it one of the most beautiful places on earth and stamping this northern Vietnam destination as a favorite on the world tourism map. The bay features towering limestone pillars, small islands covered with lush green forest that rise from the depths of the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

The vibrant Halong City is the main gateway to the bay but its drab tall buildings belie the natural beauty of the bay. Most visitors normally go on cruise-tours that allows them to sleep on board around the bay. However, some tourists choose to avoid the main bay completely and head straight to Cat Ba Island in order to access the equally beautiful Lan Ha Bay.

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How to get there

Most travellers book their Halong Bay tours in Hanoi. Here are some recommended operators:

  • Vega Travel

Good-value overnight and two-night tours with comfortable cabins, and kayaking included.
Address: cnr P Ma May & 24a P Hang Bac, Hanoi
Phone: +84 439 2620 92
Website: www.vegatravel.vn

  • Cat Ba Ventures

Tours of Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay.
Address: 223 Ð 1-4, Cat Ba Town
Phone: +84 313 1388 8755 / +84 912 4670 16
Website: www.catbaventures.com

  • Indochina Sails

Traditional Chinese junk with modern conveniences.
Phone: +84 439 8423 62
Website: www.indochinasails.com

  • Handspan Adventure Travel

Sailing ships and kayaking tours in nearby Lan Ha Bay.
Phone: +84 439 8423 62
Website: www.indochinasails.com

 

Accommodation

1. Novotel Ha Long Bay
Address: 160 Ha Long road, Bai Chay ward, Ha Long city, Quang Ninh, Ha Long City, Quảng Ninh 200000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 203 3848 108

2. City Bay Palace Hotel
Address: 156 Lê Thánh Tông, Hồng Gai, Tp. Hạ Long, Quảng Ninh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 203 3621 838

3. Paradise Suites Hotel
Address: Paradise Town, Tuan Chau Island, Halong Bay, Ha Long, Quảng Ninh 200000, Vietnam
Phone: +84 203 3815 088

 

13. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, North-Central Vietnam

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003. This is due to the fact that it has the oldest karst mountains in Asia, which is a 400 million-year-old formation. The mountains are lined with hundreds of caverns, some of which are of breathtaking scale and length with the floor laced with underground rivers. In other words, Phong Nha is another hidden treasure for adventure-seekers.

Due to tourism, the Phong Nha region is rapidly developing. The primary village in the region is Son Trach with a population of 3,000. Although small, Son Trach has working ATMs, a spectrum of accommodation and eateries not to mention transportion links with other parts of central Vietnam. It is beyond a doubt that the caves are the region’s main attraction but there are other attractions like the forest trekking, the area’s historical war sites and rural mountain biking to occupy a visitor’s interest.

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How to get there

Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park is a protected area in north-central Vietnam bordering the Hin Namno Reserve in Laos. The area is only accessible via Oxalis Adventure Tours.

Address: Phong Nha Commune, Son Trach Village, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam
Hours: 7:30 – 12:00 & 13:30 – 17:30 (Monday – Saturday)
Phone: +84 232 3677 678
Email: contact@oxalis.com.vn

 

Accommodation

1. Thien Thanh Hotel
Address: ĐT20, Phong NHA, Sơn Trạch, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Phone: +84 232 3677 069

2. Jungle Boss Homestay
Address: ĐT20, Phong NHA, Sơn Trạch, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Phone: +84 943 7480 41

3. Thanh Tam Restaurant and Hotel
Address: Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Sơn Trạch Town, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Phone: +84 973 5516 81

 

14. Tan Ky House, Hoi An

Tan Ky House

Tan Ky House

This house was built over 200 years ago by a Vietnamese family and was subsequently passed down through 7 generations. The architecture reflects Japanese and Chinese influences with the Japanese element principally seen in the ceiling beams of the living area. The ceiling progressively cascades from taller into shorter beams, one on top of another. Beneath the ceiling are carvings of a pair of crossed sabres tied with a silk ribbon representing flexibility and force.

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The darkened-wood panels of the interior are illuminated by lamps with Chinese poems carved on the pillars and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The Chinese characters on these 150-year-old darkened panels consist of birds in various positions of midflight. The courtyard in the middle of the house allow sunlight to filter in and at the same time, ventilate the house and allows some greenery such as potted plants, into the house. It is also an area for the collection and drainage of rainwater as well. The wooden balcony surrounding the courtyard is strewn with grape leaves, an European import that attest to the melting pot of cultures that Hoi An is.

The rear end of the house faces the river and it used to be rented out to foreign merchants. There are marks on the wall that register the extent of flooding, like the 1964 flood that had a water level reaching almost the entire first floor. Two pulleys can be seen on the beam in the loft. They were used to move goods into storage and to raise furniture to protect them from the flood water. Essentially, the roof consists of ceramic tiles and the ceiling is constructed of wood panels and beams. This allow the house to kept cool during summer and warm during winter.

Wonderfulvietnam-57

 

How to get there

It is near the famous Japanese Bridge of Hoi An, stroll down Bach Dang Street into Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

Address: 101 Nguyễn Thái Học, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 974 9989 68

 

Accommodation

1. Thanh Van 1 Hotel
Address: 78 Trần Hưng Đạo, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3916 916

Green Heaven Hoi An Resort & Spa
Address: 21 La Hối, An Hội, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3962 966

Vinh Hung Riverside Resort & Spa
Address: 111 Ngo Quyen, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3910 393

 

15. Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An

Japanese Covered Bridge

Japanese Covered Bridge

This ornate little bridge has become the symbol of Hoi An. In 1590, the Japanese community built this bridge in order to link with the Chinese quarters. Over the centuries further adornment of the bridge has remained relatively faithful to the Japanese origins. The French flattened out the roadway for cars, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986. The bridge is due for a complete removal for repair purposes, so it is wise to check the status of the bridge prior to visiting.

The structure is very solidly constructed to withstand earthquakes and the entrances to the bridge are guarded by weathered statues: a pair of monkeys on one side, a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, many of Japan’s emperors were born in the years of the Dog and Monkey. Another tale says that construction of the bridge started in the year of the Monkey and was finished in the year of the Dog. A stelae stands bearing the names of all Vietnamese and Chinese contributors to a subsequent restoration of the bridge, written in chu nho (Chinese characters) – the nom script had not yet become popular. While access to the Japanese Bridge is free, you have to surrender a ticket to see a small, unimpressive temple built into the bridge’s northern side. If you are challenged for simply crossing the bridge, politely explain that you are not there for the temple.

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How to get there

The bridge is located at the west end of Tran Phu Street in Hoi An and is easily reached from the town centre.

 

Accommodation

1. Thanh Van 1 Hotel
Address: 78 Trần Hưng Đạo, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3916 916

2. Green Heaven Hoi An Resort & Spa
Address: 21 La Hối, An Hội, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3962 966

3. Vinh Hung Riverside Resort & Spa
Address: 111 Ngo Quyen, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3910 393

 

16. Hang Nga Crazy House, Dalat

Hang Nga Crazy House

Hang Nga Crazy House

Hang Nga Crazy House is a private residence that is architecturally designed to be surreal. It has strange rooms connected by thin bridges that overlook vegetation. The rooms itself are of strange shapes and outlandish colors with spider web-shaped windows along with many organic elements such as handrails that are similar to jungle vines.

The architecture of this Crazy House is the product of Mrs. Dang Viet Nga’s imagination and has been a work in progress since 1990. Hang Nga has a PhD in architecture from Moscow and has since designed many other buildings around the Dalat area. Her earlier masterpiece that was dubbed ‘House with 100 Roofs’ was unfortunately demolished as a fire hazard and because the architecture was deemed antisocialist.

Wonderfulvietnam-62

The Crazy House project was started by Hang Nga to bring people back to nature despite the fact that the new amendments to the house are increasingly more bizarre every year. But this time around, her illustrious father, the late Truong Chinh was the successor to Ho Chi Minh and became Vietnam’s second president from 1981 until his death in 1988. There’s a memorial shrine to her father in the lounge area of the ground floor. The strange architecture is unfortunately not child safe and parents would have to keep a vigilant eye on their children while visiting the house.

Wonderfulvietnam-63

 

How to get there

The Hang Nga Crazy House is in Dalat city and can be accessed via taxis and buses. The house is also a guesthouse that one can book with a variety of rooms that features its quirky architecture.

Address: 03 Huynh Thuc Khang Street,Ward 4, Dalat City 67000,Lam Dong, Trần Phú, Phường 4, Tp. Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam
Phone: +84 263 3822 070
Hours: 08:30 –19:00 Daily
Website: http://www.crazyhouse.vn/

 

17. My Son, Central Vietnam

Wonderfulvietnam-64

My Son is Vietnam’s most extensive remains of an ancient city that was built by the Cham people. The backdrop of My Son is set in a lush jungle valley, with Hon Quap or Cat’s Tooth Mountain overlooking it. Unfortunately, the temple ruins are in poor shape with only 20 structures still standing today. In the past there were at least 68 that stood their spot there. Nevertheless, the beautiful setting of this ancient site, surrounded by streams is still enchanting.

In ancient times, My Son was the intellectual, cultural and religious center of the Champa Kingdom and parts of it may have served as tombs of the Cham monarchs. The French rediscovered this site and restored parts of the complex in the late 19th century but American bombing during the war devastated the temples. Today, it is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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How to get there

Most travellers to My Son go on tours. The ruins are relatively small and therefore, visitors can overrun the park.

  • VM Travel

Address: 228A Nguyen Duy Hieu, Cam Chau, Hoi An city
Phone: +84 023 4393 1747

  • Simply Vietnam Travel

Address: 287 Nguyen Duy Hieu St Hoi An, Vietnam
Phone: +84 121 3553 385

 

Accommodation

1. Thanh Van 1 Hotel
Address: 78 Trần Hưng Đạo, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3916 916

2. Green Heaven Hoi An Resort & Spa
Address: 21 La Hối, An Hội, Cẩm Phô, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3962 966

3. Vinh Hung Riverside Resort & Spa
Address: 111 Ngo Quyen, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam
Phone: +84 235 3910 393

 

18. Sapa, Northwestern Vietnam

Sapa

Sapa

Sapa was originally established as a hill station during the French occupation of Vietnam. However, Sapa today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northwest Vietnam.

The location where Sapa sits makes the most out of the spectacular views on a clear sunny day. The town overlooks a deep valley with mountains towering high from all sides. Stunning views like this are often masked by thick mist from the peaks. To add to its beauty, the local hill-tribe people fill the town with lots of color. Unfortunately, modern development has mushroomed all over and thus, city-like skyline now threatens to overtake the natural landscape. Nonetheless, most tourists are not here to hang out in town.

This is the main trekking base for northern Vietnam and where trekkers start their adventure before going out into the surrounding countryside. Sapa features cascading green rice terraces and quaint hill-tribe villages and its real charm lies among these lush fields.

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How to get there

Sapa is up in the mountains with no airport, which makes it accessible by road with buses and taxis. The most popular way to get to Sapa from Hanoi is via overnight train.

 

Accommodation

1. Sapa Panorama Hotel
Address: 10 Hoang Dieu street, Sapa, Lào Cai, Vietnam
Phone: +84 214 3771 535

2. Sapa Eden Hotel
Address: 64 Phanxipang Road, tt. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Sa Pả, Vietnam
Phone: +84 214 3873 663

3. Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa
Address: Xuân Viên, tt. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Lào Cai, Vietnam
Phone: +84 214 3871 522

 

19. Nha Trang, Southern Vietnam

Nha Trang

Nha Trang

Nha Trang is a high-energy beach resort with a stunning setting. This city is circled by a string of hills and a sweeping crescent-shaped beach. The turquoise bay is sprinkled with lush tropical islands.

The city’s shoreline has seen massive transformation in recent years. It is now lined with sculptured gardens and quiet parks along the impressive promenade. In contrast, along the city streets unfold a large array of boutiques and a broad range of dining options. After hours, nightlife begins in central Nha Trang where most of the clubs are. Much of the clubs cater to the many Russian and Chinese tourists. Another option is the traditional spa treatment with a visit to a mudbath.

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How to get there

Nha Trang is a high-energy beach resort with a stunning setting. There are flights to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi as well. Alternatively, one can take the bus or train from Ho Chi Minh

 

Accommodation

1. Novotel Nha Trang
Address: 50 Tran Phu Street, Tp. Nha Trang, 652076, Vietnam
Phone: +84 258 6256 900

2. Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel & Spa
Address: 12 14 Trần Phú Str., City,, Tp. Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa, Vietnam
Phone: +84 583 8209 99

3. Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa
Address: 26-28 Tran Phu Street, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam
Phone: +84 258 3880 000

 

20. Po Nagar Towers, Southern Vietnam

Po Nagar Towers

Po Nagar Towers

These four towers were built during the period between the 7th to the 12th centuries CE. Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists are still actively worshipping at these four Cham Towers. The complex originally had seven or eight towers, but only four towers still stand. The largest, a 28m-high North Tower that’s known by the name Thap Chinh, dates back to 817 CE with its magnificent terraced pyramidal roof, vaulted ceiling and vestibule. These towers stand on a granite hill 2km north of central Nha Trang on the banks of the Cai River.

Archaeologists say that this site was used for worship as early as the 2nd century CE. In 774 CE, the invading Javanese destroyed the original wooden structure. A brick and stone temple was subsequently built over the site, the first of its kind in 784 CE. The towers enshrine Yang Ino Po Nagar, the patron goddess of the Dua (Liu) clan, which ruled over the southern part of the Cham kingdom. There are numerous inscribed stone slabs scattered throughout the temple complex, which describes history, religion offering glimpses into the spiritual life and social hierarchy of the ancient Cham people.

Po Nagar Towers

Po Nagar Towers

All four of the towers face the eastern direction, as did the original entrance to the complex, which is on the right side as you ascend the hill. In ancient times, devotees would have to shuffle through the pillared meditation hall and today, the remains of 10 pillars can still be seen before ascending up the steep staircase that leads up to the towers. In 918 CE, King Indravarman III installed a gold mukha-linga image, which is a carved phallus with a painted face in the North Tower but Khmer raiders stole it. A repetition of stolen or destroyed statues followed by their replacement continued until 965 CE, when King Jaya Indravarman IV replaced the missing mukha-linga with the stone figure of the goddess Uma (Shakti, or female consort of Shiva), which remains to this day.

Above the entrance to the Northern Tower is a carving of a dancing four-armed Shiva accompanied by two celestial musicians on each side with one dancing upon the head of the bull, Nandin. The sandstone doorpost and the walls inside the vestibule are covered with inscriptions. An old gong and drum is placed under the pyramid-like ceiling of the vestibule. In the main hall of the tower enshrines a stone statue of the goddess Uma with 10 arms, two of which are hidden beneath her vest as she sits and leans against a fearsome beast.

Yang Ino Po Nagar, the patron goddess of the Dua (Liu) clan

Yang Ino Po Nagar, the patron goddess of the Dua (Liu) clan

The Central Tower or Thap Nam was constructed in the 12th century partly with bricks taken from an earlier structure dating from the 7th century. It is less refined when compared with the other towers and the structure has less decoration. Even the pyramidal roof is not terraced but the simple exterior hides an interior where the altars were once layered with silver. A linga is enshrined within the main hall.

The South Tower or Mieu Dong Nam is dedicated to Sandhaka or Shiva and it still enshrines a linga, while the richly ornamented Northwest Tower or Thap Tay Bac was originally dedicated to Ganesh. A museum with a small collection of Cham stonework is at the rear end of the temple. In order to get to Po Nagar Towers from central Nha Trang, take Ð Quang Trung (which becomes Ð 2 Thang 4) north across the Ha Ra and Xom Bong Bridges. Po Nagar Towers is also accessible via the Tran Phu Bridge along the beachfront road. The towers continue to be worshipped and so you would have to remove your shoes before entering.

 

How to get there

In order to get to the temple from central Nha Trang, take a taxi towards Ð Quang Trung road (which becomes Ð 2 Thang 4) north across the Ha Ra and Xom Bong Bridges. Po Nagar can also be reached via the Tran Phu Bridge along the beachfront road.

Address: 2 Tháng 4, Vĩnh Phước, Tp. Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam
Hours: 07:00 –19:00 daily
Entrance Fee: VND 12,000

 

Accommodation

1. Novotel Nha Trang
Address: 50 Tran Phu Street, Tp. Nha Trang, 652076, Vietnam
Phone: +84 258 6256 900

2. Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel & Spa
Address: 12 14 Trần Phú Str., City,, Tp. Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa, Vietnam
Phone: +84 583 8209 99

3. Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa
Address: 26-28 Tran Phu Street, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam
Phone: +84 258 3880 000

 

Travel Books on Vietnam

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Lonely Planet Vietnam. Click to enlarge. Lonely Planet Vietnam has the most updated and suitable travel advice on what to see along with tips to experience Vietnam off the beaten track. Immerse yourself in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, kayak your way along Halong Bay’s glistening limestone peaks or stroll down charming Hoi An with your amazing Lonely Planet companion. Vietnam awaits you!
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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam and Angkor Wat. Click to enlarge. This is the Winner of the Top Guidebook Series in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards 2017. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam & Angkor Wat delivers you straight to the best place and best things to do in Vietnam and Angkor. It could exploring the famous Halong Bay, ancient cities of Hue, bustling Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Vietnam’s great islands and beaches. This accessible DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam & Angkor Wat provides the most relevant information on all the major attractions at these places to make the best of your trip.

 

For more interesting information:

 

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About Pastor David Lai

David is a lay Buddhist pastor of Kechara and a longtime student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Initially a reluctant writer, he now finds himself writing for a living and has published four books including his autobiography, There's No Way But Up and Conversations in Love.

David is a lover of Buddhist art and whenever he can, he shares his knowledge of the Dharma with everyone, giving frequent teachings and writing on his blog www.davidlai.me.
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12 Responses to Wonderful Vietnam

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  1. Wan Wai Meng on Jul 24, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Vietnam had such a troubled past, being conquered and overtaken by many external forces. Yet they must be proud they have come so far and now is a developing nation with a strong vibrant economy. Vietnam forces put a stop the the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, this is something I think the Cambodians should be grateful for.

    The map Vietnam looks like a dragon or like sea horse in a way. There is a lot of more vietnamese food shops in KL than before and the food is good, in Puchong they even have vegetarian Vietnamese good, nice and not expensive.

  2. Anne Ong on Jul 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for this wonderful article on Wonderful Vietnam. Didn’t know Vietnam is so beautiful. And the food looks delicious. I have eaten Bhan Mi before sometime ago bought in Ipoh from my girlfriend and her kind parents. It’s very tasty. Love the beautiful pictures and places of Vietnam. Thank you very much Rinpoche,Pastor David and blog team for all the great articles and knowledge being shared on this blog! Great job everyone!!! _/\_

  3. Lin Mun on Jul 20, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for this informative article about Vietnam. I have been to Vietnam 3 times and it is indeed a beautiful country. Love the food there which have so much influence from both Chinese and French. Ho Chi Minh is a place full of history. Learned some during my trip there last year. The War Remmants Museum is a must visit place to learn about the history and effect of the Vietnam war. Vietnamese has definitely went through a lot during the war period.

    The pictures of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is beautiful. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to visit this park.

    • Pastor David Lai on Jul 20, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Ooh… you have been to Vietnam. I had never ever wanted to go to Vietnam but that’s because I never realize how beautiful Vietnam is. Since I researched and wrote this article, Vietnam has officially entered my so called bucket list of places that I would like to visit one day. Personally, I really like the historical places like Hue, Myson and the Nha Trang Po Nagar temple.

  4. CindyH on Jul 20, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    It says a lot about the resiliency of Vietnam when one looks at how it managed to recover from decades of war as well as its economic transition from a socialist economy to one of the fastest growing market economies in South East Asia. From the look of things, everything from its architecture to its food embodies different foreign influences yet they are all undeniably still distinctively Vietnamese in flavour, a strong testament of how Vietnam has managed to emerge from its complicated past with its own sense of identity. Thus, a visit to Vietnam is not only limited to the splendors of exploring its diverse impressive sceneries but also the pleasure of experiencing the uniqueness of Vietnamese culture and lifestyle. Thank you for such a comprehensive write-up which is very helpful for charting out one’s visit to Vietnam.

  5. Samfoonheei on Jul 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Vietnam always reminds me of the Vietnam 1954–1975 war.(Killing Fields),but i did not realised its such a beautiful country too.
    Vietnam has been scarred OF wartime experiences , exposuring to different cultures has left indelible marks on the country.There is so many place of interest to offer with a stunning and diverse landscape, mix architecture, beautiful beaches to name a few.What i like most is the beauty of Halong Bay which known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Hope i can visit this beautiful place some day and to see those ancient architecture buildings.Po Nagar Towers which built centuries ago with magnificent terraced pyramidal roof and vaulted ceiling that caught my eyes which i like to visit.
    Thank you Pastor David Lai for sharing this informative ,beautiful post.

  6. Stella Cheang on Jul 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Vietnam is a wonderful country with a rich history and a post-war culture that is unique to the rest of us. The brutal war had done a lot of damage to the beautiful land. It had also empowered the people in a way. They are profit oriented and stand firm on their foot. I noticed this in almost people from all work of life across Vietnam. Except in Saigon, where people are ascustomed to retail business, hence friendlier in many ways. Having said that, Vietnam’s natural beauty is mesmirizing to say the least. I particularly like Nha Thrang, a beach haven with beautiful people and lovely food. Thank you, Pastor David, for this sharing.

  7. Datuk May on Jul 18, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Vietnam is one of the 3 countries that suffered a division of their countries due to wars and in particular World War II. The other 2 are Korea which division still exists today as North and South Korea. The other was Germany into East and West but thank goodness that since then are united.

    Wars divide and in the case of Vietnam, it was united in 1975 with the defeat of the mistaken American participation in their civil war of North and South.

    With such a violent history, many decades of wars both civil and with the French and Americans being part of the wars, it is inspiring to notice the resilience of the Vietnamese people today, tough and holding onto their traditions and culture.

    As mentioned in Pastor David’s article, it is great fun to visit Vietnam as the food is diverse and interesting and a lifestyle that bridges the east and west.

    The sceneries of many parts of Vietnam’s long coastline and mountain ranges are fascinating and some are very serene, like Halong bay.

    If you have not visited Vietnam, read this and you will experience Vietnam as though you have been there. And when you visit, your trip will be well guided by this article.

  8. May Ong on Jul 18, 2017 at 11:47 am

    It is best to visit Hanoi and Sapa towards year end like December or January where the weather in the highlands of Sapa is foggy, cool and perhaps snow on the highest peaks. Hanoi would have similar weather and temperature like Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. There is also a beautiful huge cave to visit if you go on a cruise on Halong Bay. Inside this cave, you may find a stone shaped tortoise and other delightful stone formations like animals and even Buddhist deity. Vietnam is an interesting country to visit. However, please be careful of the type of shops you go to for your meals as some sells dog meat. That is the downside.

  9. Joey Tan on Jul 17, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    A nice article. I get to know a lot of wonderful places in Vietnam. Thanks for the wonderful information which not only provide the name of places, somehow the details information of the contact number as well as the address.

  10. Fong on Jul 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Despite her violent past, Vietnamese people have managed to maintain their tradition, culture and gentleness of spirit as well as their resilience. They maintain their believes and faith in the face of adversity as they rebuild their country.

    there is still so much beauty in Vietnam. A very interesting and lovely introduction to vietnam.

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  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 10:04 AM
    Interesting someone like Rob Lowe a famous actor actually told he came face-to-face with Bigfoot was with his two sons .No proof and details given to support his encounter. Whether for publicity his coming show no one knows. He was filming his new paranormal documentary series when he said he saw it. It does not matter at least it helps to raise awareness of that Bigfoot do exist. Good in way more people will come to accept it and will further investigate its existence of Bigfoot. It also encourages people to start thinking broadly of possibilities.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/rob-lowe-face-to-face-with-bigfoot.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 10:03 AM
    Well,I have read news of Bigfoot sightings in the jungles of southern Malaysia before years back. Interesting as our country do have the sighting of Bigfoot too.It seems that Bigfoot can be found anywhere in this world. To many people, Bigfoot is the stuff of nightmarish folklore. Described by hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses as an ape-like creature that stands nearly eight feet tall. There is a number of sighting by the locals and may be linked to environmental changes and the shrinking jungle. This has attracted world attention, having teams from different countries and our local government as well. The research scientists, has been trying to verify Bigfoot’s existence so far none has really performed intensive research on this matter. Historical records show eight claimed sightings of enormous apemen or Bigfoot or oversized apes. Despite numerous sightings, photos and footprints , there has never been conclusive proof that these creatures exist in Malaysia.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these interesting article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/bigfoot-in-malaysia.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 10:02 AM
    Alarming height and shocking to know there is microplastic contamination in our drinking water after scientific investigation has discovered that.
    Glad to know scientists are doing more for research on the implications for health. At least we could know more knowledge and more aware of all plastics fibres in our tap water. All this while we have been drinking . Scientists warn microplastics are so small they could penetrate organs. That is bad for our health. Plastic fibres have infiltrated the drinking water of cities and towns all over the world. Our oceans are littered with plastic, which is killing whales and other marine mammals, and contaminating fish. Previous studies have shown when people eat seafood, they are also eating high levels of microplastics, not to mention taking in a lot of mercury as well
    Many people have involved to make a change for a better environment for the generation to come. Educating the people from school children to the people on the streets the safest ways of garbage disposal will be a wonderful start. We should all take responsibility to care for the environment and help raise awareness.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/do-you-know-what-you-are-drinking.html
  • Alice Tay
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 01:51 AM
    In Buddhism, before become an enlightened beings, all living beings have to experience the suffering in taking rebirth for many lifetimes and each of the rebirth, we must have father and mother. It is possible that our previous lifetime’s father and mother have taken rebirth in other forms such as animals, hungry ghosts and etc in this lifetime. Due to this reason, we should love and treat all sentient beings well as everyone might once been our father or mother in the previous life. We owe them kindness and therefore we should practice dharma and help to liberate them from suffering and lead them to enlightenment.

    I am extremely grateful that I meet and learn dharma from Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s skilful means teachings let me understand that I should not only care about myself, my family and friends but to be kind and compassion to everyone around me. Rinpoche reminds and encourage us to do our commitments and daily sadhana. Later, I realized that when we do prayers, sadhana or pujas, we must begin with Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels and followed by recitation of the Four Immeasurables. Through this practice, it is actually to help us to set a good motivation and generate our Bodhicitta for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/five-ways-to-love-more-by-tsem-rinpoche.html
  • Lin Mun
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 10:27 PM
    Rinpoche’s blog has so many interesting topics and articles. Be it heavy and technical or light such as traveling tips, all are very useful and informative to the readers. I appreciate Rinpoche and writers team hardwork in giving us vast information and opportunity for us to learn and improve our dharma knowledge.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/i-am-honoured.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 11:04 AM
    Wow …such a unique island called Socotra which i did not know before or come across . Everything from trees to flowers looks so unique. A place home to a panoply of strange plants and animals uniquely which adapted to the hot, harsh, windswept island. The landscape of this remote Socotra Island looks as if it comes from a sci-fi film.
    From what I see through the pictures this Socotra Island, looks more like Alien place. It’s truly unlike any place on earth and is also called the ‘Lost World ‘ to some of the tourist. I did some research on this island .
    It seem over millions of years, the isolated island in the Arabian Sea has cultivated a unique biodiversity unlike anywhere else on Earth. Twisted dragon’s blood trees and bulbous bottle trees have made Socotra a place of legends, feared by sailors throughout history and believed by some to be the site of the original Garden of Eden.
    Now it seem to be a tourist attraction in Yemen after when UNESCO named it as World Natural Heritage Site in 2006. Its wonderful news as UNESCO recognizes the importance of preserving the island.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these unique island with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/travel/socotra-island.html#comment-753145
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 11:03 AM
    Beautiful sacred painting by Rinpoche. Amazing to know RInpoche as a small kid is so talented in drawing and painting . Yet after so many years the painting still looks good condition. Such a beautiful White Tara painting and now Rinpoche still paints.
    Wow interesting stories behind the scared painting of the powerful white Tara. When we have trust and faith that’s how these powerful Tara will help us.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/sacred-painting.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 11:02 AM
    The two beautiful Yeti painting comes a long way from Nepal with love to Malaysia .Specially for Rinpoche……such a beautiful gift and unique .. Knowing Rinpoche like Bigfoot so much. Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection. It is not the gift but the thought that counts.
    Rejoice for Mitra Poudel and Khom Thapa
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these beautiful paintings.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/yeti-bigfoot-sasquatch/from-nepal.html
  • Jason
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:14 PM
    This is a great news to animals. Gucci, a leading fashion company going to stop fur clothing now. I just watched a video about the people peel off the fox skin. So cruelty.
    Even though we own any fur clothing, we shouldn’t wear it because this will create a desire cause to others to buy more fur clothing .
    Human beings are very intelligent but we shouldn’t take away animals rights to live in this planet.
    Thanks Rinpoche sharing.

    Jason
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/do-you-know-what-gucci-did.html
  • Alice Tay
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 05:51 PM
    藏传佛教格鲁派第十世班禅喇嘛被视为阿弥陀佛的化身,并且是继达赖尊者后拥有最高权威的佛法大师。第十世班禅喇嘛是一名颇有影响力的大师,每当他给予公开开示时,数以千计的人都会前去听法。
    第十世班禅喇嘛和达赖尊者的关系可以追溯到第五世达赖尊者时期。在当时,第五世达赖尊者的上师,同时也是杜固扎巴坚赞(多杰雄登前世之一)的上师是第四世班禅喇嘛。为了感激上师,达赖尊者赐予上师“班禅大师”头衔,并对班禅大师的三任前世加以追封。此外,达赖尊者也将扎什伦布寺赐为其上师的驻锡地。而此扎什伦布寺内还安设一间供奉多杰雄登的护法殿至今,并且还成为著名的旅游胜地。
    由此可见,如果多杰雄登就如藏人行政中央所说的修持多杰雄登会伤害西藏事业,那么当时的第五世达赖尊者为何要赠送设有多杰雄登的护法殿的扎什伦布寺予第四世班禅喇?如果多杰雄登真的会伤害西藏事业,那么第十世班禅喇嘛为何要费尽心思来撰写这篇约30至40页的的“妙音怙主(宗喀巴)佛教护法天王金刚具力五部威猛尊酬供仪轨”的祈愿文?难道第十世班禅喇嘛铁了心肠不再理会或是存心要危害西藏人民?这一切的一切,让我们不得不深入的思考。

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/downloads/panchen-lama-sungbum-chinese.html
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 05:22 PM
    It is very worrying that there are such high percentage of plastic fibres found in our tap water. Even developed country such as UK, Germany and France has 72% of their tap water contaminated with plastic fibres. I guess this is the price we have to pay. With improve technologies and new science inventions we keep coming out with new products that uses various types of plastics and chemicals to bring down the production cost. But unfortunately, nothing comes free as human who will have to suffer the implication of these plastics fibres in the form of water and air, and it is alarming to our health. I think the only way is to create awareness to people telling them how harmful it can bring to us and we should avoid using the products that contribute the pollution and use alternative.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/do-you-know-what-you-are-drinking.html
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 05:04 PM
    It is good news that Tibetan MP Venerable Tenpa Yarphel speaks up against Nechung. Why would a democratic country listen to an oracle to seek advise for the country governance and administration? It just puzzled me. If Nechung is right, why isn’t the country and people progressing but divided further with the Dorje Shugden ban? What more Nechung is an not enlightened dharma protector. It was proven that so many Nechung’s prophecies was wrong but none would question and CTA would still follow the wrong advice. The CTA leaders continue to segregate, discriminate and remove all the human rights against Dorje Shugden practitioners such as education, medical, religion and etc. This is so illegal.

    In this age, we should be able to think and fight for our rights. I hope more people like Venerable Tenpa Yarphel will speak up against the unfair Tibetan leadership towards their people. Everyone should be treated equally and especially for a Buddhism country.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/tibetan-mp-tenpa-yarphel-speaks-up-against-nechung.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:29 AM
    Shocking to read and hear this, happening in our own country. Even though this post is old , feeling sad for those cats starving been kept at two pet boarding premises which they called pets hotel. Pets owner discovered that those pets were left abandoned and starved . They also found dead cats and many were in a sad condition. Our local newspapers reported that about 200 cats and a dog were rescued from that premise alone .Another location about 100 cats were found and rescued. These episode was highlighted in news national wide. It such a shameful act .How can the owner of the premises do it for their own selfishness just because of celebrations.
    It is good that the authorities took a stern legal action against the owners of the centre.
    Animals are ignorant and do not deserve to be treated so badly. Be kind and caring to all sentient beings. Have empathy.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/300-starved-and-13-died-petknode.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:28 AM
    A beautiful approach by the British MPs has recommended that people reduce the amount of meat they eat to help prevent food shortages in Britain . Even though it is political approach yet still happy as less animals will be killed for foods on the table.
    The massive increase in meat consumption in recent decades has led to the price of grain increase which used for animal feed. Its also lead to widespread deforestation and pressure on agricultural land. The MP are trying to tackle food wastage as half the food bought from UK supermarkets goes in the bin. The UK population are encouraged to eat less meat in long run.
    Thank you for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/british-mps-says-eat-less-meat.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:27 AM
    So touching ….watching this beautiful videos , could not controlled my tears too. Its such a warm moment when the two of them met again after a long search nearly 25 years of a hopless search . Mitchell Shigemoto has never forgotten how James Pearson saved his life. In foreign places, and the way Shigemoto’s relationship with James Pearson training together and fighting ,along side in the war ,they became best friends.
    James Pearson is truly a selfless ,kind and friendly person, nor matter what happen stands by Mitchell Shigemoto.
    Thank you Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing this inspiring post.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/mitchell-shigemoto-and-james-pearson-best-friends-in-war.html

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  Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch

The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

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Dear friends, This meme is powerful. Who you hang around with and the types of attitude they have is who you will be influenced by many times and who you will become in the future. Look at your friends and the people that always surround you to know who you will become. Tsem Rinpoche
yesterday
Dear friends, This meme is powerful. Who you hang around with and the types of attitude they have is who you will be influenced by many times and who you will become in the future. Look at your friends and the people that always surround you to know who you will become. Tsem Rinpoche
October 2017, His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal graciously reading our Kechara album and updates as presented by Beng Kooi and Martin. He was very pleased with our progress and offers his blessings. Tsem Rinpoche
yesterday
October 2017, His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal graciously reading our Kechara album and updates as presented by Beng Kooi and Martin. He was very pleased with our progress and offers his blessings. Tsem Rinpoche
His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche grants audience to Beng Kooi and Martin in France.  Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
2 days ago
His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche grants audience to Beng Kooi and Martin in France. Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
Recently Beng Kooi and Martin on behalf of myself and Kechara was lucky to have audience with His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He lives in around Paris, France. His Holiness is 91 years old and very healthy and alert. He was the 101st throne holder for Tsongkapa and was the head of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism and was very successful during his tenure. He is a strong practitioner of both Sutra and Tantra of Je Tsongkapa\'s tradition and a master of all Buddhist knowledge. He holds steadfast to his protector Dorje Shugden very strongly. So we can see even the highest throneholders who are masters of Sutra and Tantra also practices Dorje Shugden knowing the benefits.

Beng Kooi and Martin brought photo albums of Kechara Forest Retreat/Kechara and updates on Kechara and our works. His Holiness was very pleased to listen and offered some gifts back. 

This is a beautiful picture and the great blessings bestowed on us from His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.

Humbly, Tsem Rinpoche 
Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
2 days ago
Recently Beng Kooi and Martin on behalf of myself and Kechara was lucky to have audience with His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He lives in around Paris, France. His Holiness is 91 years old and very healthy and alert. He was the 101st throne holder for Tsongkapa and was the head of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism and was very successful during his tenure. He is a strong practitioner of both Sutra and Tantra of Je Tsongkapa's tradition and a master of all Buddhist knowledge. He holds steadfast to his protector Dorje Shugden very strongly. So we can see even the highest throneholders who are masters of Sutra and Tantra also practices Dorje Shugden knowing the benefits. Beng Kooi and Martin brought photo albums of Kechara Forest Retreat/Kechara and updates on Kechara and our works. His Holiness was very pleased to listen and offered some gifts back. This is a beautiful picture and the great blessings bestowed on us from His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Humbly, Tsem Rinpoche Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp
*****and****
My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li

Fantastic Reads!!
3 days ago
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp *****and**** My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li Fantastic Reads!!
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp
*****and****
My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li
3 days ago
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp *****and**** My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li
This is so powerful. It is a must read and must share.
3 days ago
This is so powerful. It is a must read and must share.
Beng Kooi meeting with the scholar and teacher Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen has been very active and you can see his youtubes in Tibetan speaking about the benefits of Dorje Shugden practice. He is a direct student of Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche.
4 days ago
Beng Kooi meeting with the scholar and teacher Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen has been very active and you can see his youtubes in Tibetan speaking about the benefits of Dorje Shugden practice. He is a direct student of Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche.
Martin meeting with Gen Tashi. Gen Tashi is a very devoted and committed activist of Dorje Shugden\'s cause. He is tireless in speaking for the truth. They enjoyed sharing some time together.
4 days ago
Martin meeting with Gen Tashi. Gen Tashi is a very devoted and committed activist of Dorje Shugden's cause. He is tireless in speaking for the truth. They enjoyed sharing some time together.
Martin meeting with the well known strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist and scholar Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe lak was very happy to meet Martin and shared so much wonderful information. Beautiful meeting.
4 days ago
Martin meeting with the well known strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist and scholar Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe lak was very happy to meet Martin and shared so much wonderful information. Beautiful meeting.
Beng Kooi meeting with friend and strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist Gen Tashi
4 days ago
Beng Kooi meeting with friend and strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist Gen Tashi
Another stunning digital print art of Dorje Shugden from an artist in Peru. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Another stunning digital print art of Dorje Shugden from an artist in Peru. Tsem Rinpoche
This beautiful Dorje Shugden is from an artist in the Ukraine. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
This beautiful Dorje Shugden is from an artist in the Ukraine. Tsem Rinpoche
Please never get tired of speaking for those who do not have a voice. If we can alleviate their pain or try our best, why not? Thank you all so much. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Please never get tired of speaking for those who do not have a voice. If we can alleviate their pain or try our best, why not? Thank you all so much. Tsem Rinpoche
Pastor Antoinette of Kechara arranged a Malaysian artist to paint this special Dorje Shugden painting conceptualized by myself. She oversaw the process and completed it. Wonderful beautiful Dorje Shugden Malaysian style by Malaysian artist. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Pastor Antoinette of Kechara arranged a Malaysian artist to paint this special Dorje Shugden painting conceptualized by myself. She oversaw the process and completed it. Wonderful beautiful Dorje Shugden Malaysian style by Malaysian artist. Tsem Rinpoche
Sometimes after my prayers, reading on sasquatch is relaxing. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Sometimes after my prayers, reading on sasquatch is relaxing. Tsem Rinpoche
This gorgeous outdoor bronze Buddha is in Korea. Would be lovely to pay homage to Him there.
3 weeks ago
This gorgeous outdoor bronze Buddha is in Korea. Would be lovely to pay homage to Him there.
Beautiful old vintage photo of Kamakura Buddha in Japan. I had the good fortune to visit this holy Buddha a few years back. I do hope I can go again with some students. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Beautiful old vintage photo of Kamakura Buddha in Japan. I had the good fortune to visit this holy Buddha a few years back. I do hope I can go again with some students. Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche with Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the Medicine Buddha festival.
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche with Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the Medicine Buddha festival.
This is a unique thangka of Pelden Hlamo with Dorje Shugden and Setrap and Nechung. Of course they all get along unlike what Tibetan leadership likes to say they don\'t get along. All enlightened beings get along with other enlightened beings and unenlightened beings. Enlightened beings have no karma to not get along with others. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
This is a unique thangka of Pelden Hlamo with Dorje Shugden and Setrap and Nechung. Of course they all get along unlike what Tibetan leadership likes to say they don't get along. All enlightened beings get along with other enlightened beings and unenlightened beings. Enlightened beings have no karma to not get along with others. Tsem Rinpoche
I love this picture. I wish it will all settle down soon.
3 weeks ago
I love this picture. I wish it will all settle down soon.
 I love this picture of Mumu peeking through the screen and window to see what is going on. He is always been very busy body and active. He has to know what is going on. I love you Mumu.
3 weeks ago
I love this picture of Mumu peeking through the screen and window to see what is going on. He is always been very busy body and active. He has to know what is going on. I love you Mumu.
How would you like to get one piece of this beautiful piece of art?
3 weeks ago
How would you like to get one piece of this beautiful piece of art?
First time PM Tenpa Yarphel speaks up against Nechung. It has created a huge stir. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144220
3 weeks ago
First time PM Tenpa Yarphel speaks up against Nechung. It has created a huge stir. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144220
I always like my rooms to smell clean, fresh, woodsy and a bit like the forest. my favorite types of essential oils to burn daily or as an offering to the Buddhas are Juniper, Cypress, Black Spruce, Peppermint and sometimes Rosemary. I like the smell of the forest, woods and wooded areas very much. I\'ve been using essential oils in my rooms for years. I don\'t necessarily purchase the brand you see in the picture as I buy any brand as long as it\'s made naturally. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
I always like my rooms to smell clean, fresh, woodsy and a bit like the forest. my favorite types of essential oils to burn daily or as an offering to the Buddhas are Juniper, Cypress, Black Spruce, Peppermint and sometimes Rosemary. I like the smell of the forest, woods and wooded areas very much. I've been using essential oils in my rooms for years. I don't necessarily purchase the brand you see in the picture as I buy any brand as long as it's made naturally. Tsem Rinpoche
In the bitter coldness of Yachen Gar, Tibet, several nuns are practicing meditation. You can see many small single \'huts\' in the background. They do this yearly and throughout the year. It is very inspiring to see people practice even under extreme conditions because they realize how samsara is so full of deceptions. Praise to the Dharma that liberates us with truth and practice. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
In the bitter coldness of Yachen Gar, Tibet, several nuns are practicing meditation. You can see many small single 'huts' in the background. They do this yearly and throughout the year. It is very inspiring to see people practice even under extreme conditions because they realize how samsara is so full of deceptions. Praise to the Dharma that liberates us with truth and practice. Tsem Rinpoche
More than you have....
3 weeks ago
More than you have....
The holiest place for the spiritual seeker is where our guru abides. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
The holiest place for the spiritual seeker is where our guru abides. Tsem Rinpoche
Beautiful flowers offered on my shrine to Sacred Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Beautiful flowers offered on my shrine to Sacred Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
This is my favorite image of Lord Manjusri. I had this exact same image as a kid in the 1980\'s and treasured it very much. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
This is my favorite image of Lord Manjusri. I had this exact same image as a kid in the 1980's and treasured it very much. Tsem Rinpoche
I love this idyllic painting of a beautiful Buddhist temple in a small town with foliage, natural, blue skies and country living. I can definitely live in this type of environment any time. I love living near nature. I wish I can go inside this picture to start living there now. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
I love this idyllic painting of a beautiful Buddhist temple in a small town with foliage, natural, blue skies and country living. I can definitely live in this type of environment any time. I love living near nature. I wish I can go inside this picture to start living there now. Tsem Rinpoche
Another gorgeous Byzantine style painting. As the crowd is lead to the hill of light, atop the hill is St. Dorje Shugden ready to give rest to the weary. And hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Another gorgeous Byzantine style painting. As the crowd is lead to the hill of light, atop the hill is St. Dorje Shugden ready to give rest to the weary. And hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. Tsem Rinpoche
Ms Gerbrick was a very special person in my childhood. When I finally found her again, I had lost her - http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144296
4 weeks ago
Ms Gerbrick was a very special person in my childhood. When I finally found her again, I had lost her - http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144296
I just did another one. See how it\'s done-
 http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144259
4 weeks ago
I just did another one. See how it's done- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144259
I like this sketch I just did. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
I like this sketch I just did. Tsem Rinpoche
One of my sketches just finished. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
One of my sketches just finished. Tsem Rinpoche
More of my drawings.  Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
More of my drawings. Tsem Rinpoche
See what Linus has to say to Charlie Brown: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/category/dorje-shugden
4 weeks ago
Plse click on this and read and share. Important thoughts regarding our teacher. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Plse click on this and read and share. Important thoughts regarding our teacher. Tsem Rinpoche
The stupa dedicated to the great Changkya Rolpai Dorje in 5 peaks of Manjushri - China. Changkya Rolpai Dorje was one of the previous life of His Holiness Pabongka Rinpoche. In that life, he was the imperial tutor to the Emperor of China.  Photo from Karen Chong
1 month ago
The stupa dedicated to the great Changkya Rolpai Dorje in 5 peaks of Manjushri - China. Changkya Rolpai Dorje was one of the previous life of His Holiness Pabongka Rinpoche. In that life, he was the imperial tutor to the Emperor of China. Photo from Karen Chong
Please click on this picture and see what the adorable boy is doing.
1 month ago
Please click on this picture and see what the adorable boy is doing.
Learn a new word and see what Fauvism means here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143633
1 month ago
Learn a new word and see what Fauvism means here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143633
Please click on this picture to enlarge and read. It is important and share with others. Thank you. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Please click on this picture to enlarge and read. It is important and share with others. Thank you. Tsem Rinpoche
The handprint of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche Jetsun Dechen Nyingpo
1 month ago
The handprint of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche Jetsun Dechen Nyingpo
Dear friends, For the first time in art history you will see a Tibetan divinity in Byzantine art form. Just published! Please be amazed and see the whole artwork here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143348
1 month ago
Dear friends, For the first time in art history you will see a Tibetan divinity in Byzantine art form. Just published! Please be amazed and see the whole artwork here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143348
我这里有一副最庄严印度风格法力强大护法的画作。点击这里观赏与下载: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142950
1 month ago
我这里有一副最庄严印度风格法力强大护法的画作。点击这里观赏与下载: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142950
A separate Tibetan state? 

Should this group of Tibetans have their own autonomous state?
In a world full of trials and tribulations, this group of Tibetans continues to defy all odds against a difficult leadership. Should they have their own state, their own country to live free and in harmony? Read and decide-Part 1: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142741 and Part 2: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142868
1 month ago
A separate Tibetan state? Should this group of Tibetans have their own autonomous state? In a world full of trials and tribulations, this group of Tibetans continues to defy all odds against a difficult leadership. Should they have their own state, their own country to live free and in harmony? Read and decide-Part 1: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142741 and Part 2: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142868
When I first arrived in Gaden Monastery in January 1988, I lived in this small room: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=100092
1 month ago
When I first arrived in Gaden Monastery in January 1988, I lived in this small room: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=100092
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • October 18, 2017 23:32
    Yen asked: Dear pastor, I am married but have not been blessed with a kid after several years. How can I overcome the pain I am going through? I also like to ask u for guidance to help someone dear to me who have met with an accident and in vegetative state. How do I help the friend suffer less? What can I do to help her overcome this obstacle in life even when doctor seems to have given up hope?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Yen, Thank you for your question. I am very sorry to hear of your situation and that of your friend. One thing we need to remember is that the Buddha explained to us how karma works. Everything we experience in life, whether good or bad is due to our actions previously in this life and previous lifetimes. While this may sound unfair in that we need to experience the results of something that we do not remember doing, this is the way samsara exists. They only way to be free of this type of suffering is to attain enlightenment, the state of a Buddha. That being said, we all need help in our daily life, and that is where deity practice can help us. In order to overcome the pain you are going through, may I suggest that you engage in the Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa. You can find an excellent commentary by His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/tsongkapas-daily-practice-video-commentary.html. You can find the prayers to recite here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/sadhana-prayers.html#19. There is also a practice box set dedicate to Lama Tsongkhapa, which you can order online here if you wish: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/tsongkhapa-boxset-english Lama Tsongkhapa is the emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom; Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion; and Vajrapani, the Buddha of skilful means. As such the practice is extremely powerful and is well-known to help people heal psychical pain, but more importantly the sufferings felt in the mind. You can concentrate on the recitation of the Mig Tse Ma mantra and beseech Lama Tsongkhapa to help ease your suffering. He will surely help. His practice is known for relieving anxiety and even depression. In regards to your friend, on a practical level you can research about your friend’s specific state and see if there are any treatments available that can be effective if you have not done so already. In any case what you can do is to engage in prayers or pujas and dedicate the merits generated to your friend. For example, you can engage in the practice of Medicine Buddha, available here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/medicine-buddha-practice.html, or alternative have Medicine Buddha pujas sponsored here: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/medicine-buddha-puja-fund. Medicine Buddha is excellent at healing on all levels, and provide us with soothing and beneficial energy. Another method that you can use to help your friend is to generate as much merit for her as possible. A vast amount of merit and purification of karma can help even the direst of circumstances. Such activities could involve releasing animals from slaughter or deplorable conditions, feeding the homeless and less fortunate and providing for them, and making vast amounts of offerings to the Buddhas and enlightened beings. If done with a good motivation, and dedicated towards your friend, she will benefit from the virtuous actions, even if you cannot see the benefits at the moment. Coupled with this you can engage in the practice of a Dharma protector such as a Dorje Shugden. You can find the prayers here if you wish to engage in them yourself: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/diamond-path-a-daily-sadhana-of-dorje-shugden, alternatively you can have Dorje Shugden pujas sponsored here: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/dorje-shugden-wishfulfilling-puja-fund. Dharma protectors help to overcome obstacles and conditions that we wish to arise. I understand that it is a difficult situation, but you should maintain your faith in the Buddhas and enlightened beings, and they will definitely help. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 14, 2017 13:27
    Ling asked: I have been practising chakrasamvara for over 2 years now and recently during my meditation I feel that during the deity meditation portion that it feel like my entire body is under a heavy water fall. My heart and limbs also feel like flowing water and there is some crawling sensations. What could this be
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Ling, Thank you for your question. I rejoice to read that you are practising Chakrasamvara for over two years now. This is very good, you should keep the practice steady, keep the vows and commitments well and you will progress on your spiritual evolution. Generally speaking when you engage in higher tantric yoga meditation, the meditations include movement of your psychic winds. Therefore sometimes people will experience strange feelings in the body. When this happens, once should ease off the concentration on that particular visualisation when engaging in the practice. What you can do to lessen these feelings is to engage in purification practices such as the 35 Confessional Buddhas, which you can find here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-35-confessional-buddhas.html. Alternatively if you have the appropriate initiation, you can engage in the practice of Heruka Vajrasattva, which would be included in your sadhana text. Engaging in the purification practices would lessen these sensations when you practice, as everything we experience is due to our karma. What I would advise the most, however, is to consult the guru that gave you the empowerment of Chakrasamvara practice. Your guru would be able to better advise you in addition to the above, the methods you can use to minimise the physical effects if they are due to the actual practice. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 13, 2017 11:15
    Fearful asked: What does violent shaking all of the sudden and "shrinking" feeling of the head mean during practice mean? I've been practicing the dharmapalas, and this is happening. What does it mean?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Fearful, Thank you for your question. There could be any number of reasons for this to be occurring. What you can do when this starts to happen is to stop what you are doing, and take deep breaths, and concentrate on your breath. As you concentrate on your breath, this will have a calming effect on both your body and mind, which should stop the involuntary shaking and strange feelings. In fact focusing on the breath is one of the best known methods of developing a focused, concentrated, yet calm Your practice of the Dharmapalas should begin with either Guru Yoga or deity practice, therefore I would suggest that you engage in these practices more before you begin the actually Dharma protector practice. One of the best practices is the Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa. This practice is well known for its healing ability on for both the body and the mind. Over time, you should see such occurrences lessen. If this shaking happens regularly and also when you are not practicing, you should consider visiting a qualified health professional just to rule out anything untoward. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 8, 2017 20:48
    John asked: Dear pastors, When reciting mantras we are instructed to visualize the deity. However I realize that my visualization is very very fuzzy and very very ever-changing. It is not a still image, there is like thick clouds moving and blocking the visualization then they would clear and block again and clear again and the deity would even change shape. The round part would be more oval one moment and more circle the next etc. In fact, I don't even know if the picture that ends up appearing in my mind is really looking like the deity or not. What if I end up visualizing a monster without knowing it since it's so fuzzy? Is there danger if that happens? What do you advice me to do?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear John, Thank you for your question. This is a question that people actually ask a lot, but there is no need to worry, especially if we do not have tantric initiation. In fact, the more we practice getting our visualisation stabilised now, the better we will be able to practice tantra when we eventually receive tantric initiation. The issue you are having maintain a steady visualisation is not an uncommon one. This is because we actually have to train our mind to concentrate on what we are doing. One of the major facets of Buddhist meditation is concentration, and this is something we need to develop. We might think that we have a good ability to concentrate, but what the Buddha and the great masters have taught is that we actually do not, but we can obviously develop it. Visualisation itself is a form of concentration meditation, therefore until we achieve a good level of concentration, things like this will happen as we train our minds. What we can do is to focus on a particular aspect of the visualisation, such as the face of the deity, and once that is stable and focused, we can continue onto other parts of the deity’s body, and then the various other aspects of the visualisation. That way, we train ourselves little by little to have a complete visualisation. No in regards to your question about their being danger if something goes wrong or if we make a mistake during our visualisation, this cannot be at our stage of practice. This is because the visualisation is engaged in during the mantra recitation section. Mantras themselves are the Buddhas and enlightened beings in the form of sound. Therefore when we recite mantras we are invoking the holy energies of the Buddhas, which naturally guide and protect us from any harm. The fact that you are facing this issue is in fact a good sign. It shows that are trying to concentrate on the visualisation, but that your mind has not reached a level of concentration powerful enough to maintain the stability of the visualisation. The antidote to this is simple, keep practising. As you continue to practice, you will notice that your visualisation becomes stronger and stronger. If however, you are still worried, you can end your recitation sessions with the prayer dedicated to a Dharma protector to any obstacles, and end with a completion dedication. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 6, 2017 22:31
    Wong asked: Hi, i would like to ask about jhana which is the last factor of the eightfold path. How is it being practised?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Wong, Thank you for your question. The last factor of the eightfold noble path is called jhana in the Pali language. In the Sanskrit language it is called dyana. This is a state of meditative absorption which culminates in the understanding of emptiness and is the pathway that leads us to attain liberation. Generally this state is achieved through the practice of single-pointed concentration meditation. But within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition once you have achieved stabilised single-pointed meditation, you progress onto the path of special insight meditation. It is at this stage, that one is able to concentrate completely on understanding emptiness and therefore attain enlightenment. This topic is somewhat outside of the scope of this section of the blog. However, Pabongkha Rinpoche in his excellent Lam Rim text, titled “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand” gives a very concise yet thorough introduction to the topic of meditation. Pabongkha Rinpoche addresses the path to enlightenment, not through the eightfold noble path however, but through the six perfections of a bodhisattva. In essence although on the surface the two ways of structuring the path to enlightenment may seem different, they are actually both the same if one analyses them carefully. If you read “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand” you will understand how the two structures are interlinked if you have an understanding of the eightfold noble path. You can order a copy of the book here: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/lamrim-liberation-in-the-palm-of-your-hand and the book is also available at Kechara Paradise outlets. Alternatively, you can ask your local book store to order the book in for you if they have that service. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 3, 2017 04:11
    jason asked: i have been practicing higher yoga tantra for over two year now and recently i started to get nightmares for three continuous nights now and i think it will continue, What is happening ? did i do something wrong? The first nightmare was me being cut in to numerous pieces , the second was me being visited by a greyish blue female old female ghost with no eyes in eye sockets, and the third was a giant dark brown black centipede encased in a white translucent sac exploding out of my thigh and crawling/ rolling away in to darkness. Im quite worried that i may have done something wrong even though i think i have not.
    pastor answered: Dear Jason, Thank you for your question. I am glad to hear that you have been practising Higher Yoga Tantra for over two years. You should keep your samaya with your Guru pure and intact, as well as keeping the vows and commitments that you would have taken during the empowerment into the practice. If you do this then you will see a definite transformation of your mind and circumstances for the better, which is after all what Buddhist practice is all about. In regards to your nightmares I do not think that you have done anything wrong per se. In this case it could be due to two possible reasons, the first is that your negative karma is arising in your dreams and the second is that you are being afflicted by a spirit. In the first case, when we practice Higher Yoga Tantra properly and sincerely, it purifies a lot of negative karma. As when engaging in any practice that purifies negative karma, this karma can open and manifest under control situations. For example you the karma manifests are nightmares or scary figures or feelings, rather than physically, which would come about through uncontrollable causes and conditions. When karma is purified it manifests in its most mild form, and for you in this case, it could manifest in the form of nightmares. Therefore if we are engaging in powerful practices, or when we concentrate on these practices, such things can occur. Some people may find this sort of situation bad. But this is not correct, because due to the nature of samsara, we are affected by karma in some form or another. What matters here is that karma is purified so that we can progress on our spiritual journey. When you face such difficulties, the key here is continue with your practice strongly and not give up. In this manner, the karma which causes such situations to occur is purified quicker and then we are no longer affected by it. Therefore you should wholeheartedly engage in primary sadhana of your meditational deity. On the other hand, it could be that you are being affected by a spirit or spirits. In this case there are methods of protection that you can engage in which should be included in your Higher Yoga Tantra practice. If you are unsure of what these could be, please humbly approach your initiating guru for more guidance. Another way that can help solve this problem is to engage in the practice of a Dharma protector such as Dorje Shugden. Since you are already practising a Highest Yoga Tantra, you can ask your guru about the particular Dharma protectors associated with the practice. Each of the major tantric practice has certain Dharma protectors associated with it that aid practitioners to clear obstacles and create conducive conditions for practice. You can actually engage in any Dharma protector practice, but it would be best for you to consult your guru as he or she may assign you a specific Dharma protector to practice. Whatever the case may be, it comes down to karma. The Higher Yoga Tantra you are practising should include a purification practice such as Vajrasattva. For example if you practice the Heruka Chakrasamvara tantra, and have received the appropriate empowerment, you can practice Heruka Vajrasattva. You then concentrate on the practice of Vajrasattva to purify the negative karma causing the situation, and over time you will see the situation get better. If you are not sure of the purification aspect of your daily practice, you can recite the 35 Confessional Buddhas. All of these can help, however I strongly advise you to humbly approach your guru and ask for further advice and instruction, as he or she may assign you other practices or even ask you concentrate on specific sections of the sadhana that they passed to you, to help you overcome these problems. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • September 30, 2017 22:31
    kevin asked: hi pastor, I've been very problematic lately and depressed. My plans seem to be always out of place. I read from an article that some problems are caused by negative karma from the previous and present life. I want to know if there is anything that I can do to drain my negative karma. Im very wary now on my actions to others so not to add to my existing karma. Can you suggest a mantra which I can recite and reflect on everyday to help alleviate my problems and drain my negative karma. Thank you very much. Bless you.
    pastor answered: Dear Kevin, Thank you for your question. Yes, according to Buddhist thought everything we go through in life is caused by karma. This can be either good or bad, so difficulties we face in life are indeed due to our karma. Now, one thing about karma that people often forget is that it can be purified. There are many methods within Tibetan Buddhism that are used for the purification of karma. In fact all practices necessarily involve the purification of negative karma and the generation of merit. The most effective of these are known as purification practices, which have the specific benefits of helping us to purify negative karma which leads to all kinds of problems within in our lives. These include Vajrasattva practice, which can be found here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/an-important-purification-practice.html and the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas, which can be found here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-35-confessional-buddhas.html. You can read more about these practices by clicking on the respective links. These are two very powerful methods of purifying negative karma and have been relied upon by countless practitioners and masters to progress on the spiritual path. They are two very extremely effective methods used within Tibetan Buddhism. Since you are going through many problems, however, you can engage in the practice of a Dharma protector who can help alleviate the obstacles you are facing and at the same provide conditions that are suitable for you. One such Dharma protector is Dorje Shugden, you can read more about his practice here, and his daily prayers here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/diamond-path-a-daily-sadhana-of-dorje-shugden. The website also has a lot of information about the practice and how it can benefit you in daily life. While it may seem daunting that you have negative karma, you should not be disheartened because negative karma can be overcome by purifying it. What you said is right, you should be wary of creating more negative karma. In fact that is one of the main points a Buddhist lives by, which is not creating more negative karma. People often wonder why Buddhists take vows and precepts, this is actually to stop the accumulation of negative karma. For example a Buddhist takes the vow not to kill, this obviously stops the Buddhist from creating the negative karma of killing because they consciously remember that they should not kill in whatever situation they are in. So it is very good that are checking your actions to make sure that you do not add to the negative karma. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • September 28, 2017 13:18
    Nepal asked: I've noticed that in Nepal, Shugden and his retinue are forms of the worldly protector Za Rahula, or that's what the lamas and sadhanas say. Wouldn't that make Shugden dangerous or wouldn't that make Manjushri a worldly deity or one that is dangerous?
    pastor answered: Dear Nepal, Thank you for your question. Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, that is what the high lamas and masters have taught and explained using Buddhist logic. Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being has been practiced by all major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and was first practiced within the holy Sakya tradition. Similarly, Manjushri is an enlightened being. In fact all Tibetan Buddhist schools and Vajrayana traditions, including those in Nepal, say that Manjushri is an enlightened being, the Buddha of wisdom. Rahula on the other hand is a worldly deity who was bound by oath to protect Buddhism and Buddhism practitioners. You can read more about him here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/dharma-protectors-of-tibetan-buddhism.html#tabs-1. All Tibetan Buddhist schools similarly agree to this point. Therefore to equate Dorje Shugden as a form of Za Rahula would logically mean that Manjushri is not a Buddha. This cannot be since hundreds of thousands of holy masters have relied on Manjushri and gained enlightenment through such beliefs and practices associated with Manjushri. Since from a logical perspective this cannot be the case, and Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, it is safe to say that Dorje Shugden is not a form of Za Rahula. You can read more about Dorje Shugden, his history, lineage of practice and benefits here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org. I hope this helps. Thank you.
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Dorje Shugden
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