A becalming experience at a Vietnamese Taoist temple

Locals and foreigners are lulled into peace and mindfulness at a temple dedicated to Chu Dong Tu in Hung Yen Province.

Temples to venerate Chu Dong Tu and Princess Tien Dung have been built in many places in Vietnam’s northern plains and midlands, especially in villages along the Red River.

Of these, the two most famous ones are Da Hoa Temple and Da Trach Temple in Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province.

Legend has it that Da Hoa Temple is where Princess Tien Dung, daughter of the 18th Hung King, met the poor peasant boy, Chu Dong Tu. They fell in love, married against the King’s wishes, became merchants and later, Taoists. They also ruled a new kingdom that disappeared in a flash when an invasion was imminent.

In Vietnamese culture, Chu Dong Tu is one of the "Four Immortals," symbolizing love, marriage and wealth.

Da Hoa Temple is today an important place of worship for locals, and visitors never fail to catch the serene, sacred vibes of the place.

"The atmosphere in the temple is very peaceful. I really like ancient buildings that have been around for hundreds of years," said Nora Bruchertseifer, who was on her first visit to Vietnam.

Sidharth Sircar from India, said he loved taking photos in the temple’s tranquility. "I never thought a building made of wood could last so long," he said, after offering prayers and incense.

Eileen Wingaard Sjoqvist from Norway was also on her first visit to Vietnam. After learning how to light and offer incense, she said: "As I closed my eyes, I felt my body and soul at peace. I wished for good health."

According to some historians, Da Hoa Temple was rebuilt by legendary poet, architect and Confucian scholar Chu Manh Trinh on top of another ancient temple in 1894. Da Hoa Temple has a shrine dedicated Chu Manh Trinh.

The temple consists of 18 large and small structures with roofs made of bow-shaped tiles symbolizing the 18 Hung Kings.

The main gate has 3 doors, with the main door (only opened for major ceremonies) being housed inside a structure with three compartments and a roof decorated with dragon symbols. People use the two side doors to enter. Across the yard are the Royal Court, the Incense Hall and the Second, Third and Back sanctuaries.

Inside the temple, columns and gates are engraved with phoenix and flower patterns.

Da Hoa Temple was named a cultural and historical relic in 1962. 

The temple is just 28km south of Hanoi. To get to the temple from the city's Old Quarter, you can cross Chuong Duong Bridge, turn right into provincial Road 195 along the Red River to reach Binh Minh Commune; then turn right towards the riverbank

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