Travel Travel

13/08/2017 - 14:39

Hue Pagoda: Tourism Route Waiting to Be Awakened

Most pagodas are neither too far away to be isolated, nor too close to be affected with noises. It is one of the differences that helps the pagoda system in Hue attract a lot of visitors.


Thien Mu Pagoda - One of the famous destinations. Photo: Duc Quang

‘‘Treasures’’ of Travel

In addition to the tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty, there are now more than 300 pagodas and temples in Hue; among them, there are famous ancient ones, such as Thien Mu, Tu Dam, Bao Quoc, Tu Hieu, Quoc An, Truc Lam, Thien Ton, Tra Am, Van Phuoc… Each ancient pagoda is not only a unique architectural work where people can blend in with the natural landscape, but also a unique historical, cultural, spiritual destination and an available potential and positive advantage for spiritual tourism.

We visit Thien Mu pagoda one weekend. It is one of Hue's unique ancient pagodas, located on Ha Khe Hill, by the Perfume River, and associated with the sacred dream of Lord Nguyen Hoang. With its wide space and natural beauty, Thien Mu was the most beautiful pagoda in the South. Under the reign of King Thieu Tri, Thien Mu pagoda was classified in the 20 beautiful landscapes of the ancient capital, with the poem "The bell sound of Thien Mu," written by the King himself and inscribed on a stone stele near the gate of the pagoda. In addition, when visiting the pagoda, visitors can see not only many architectural works such as Phuoc Duyen Tower, Dai Hung Palace, Dia Tang Palace, Quan Am Temple and stone steles, they can also see precious objects such as the statue of Dharma, the statue of Buddha, or the statue of Maitreya Buddha...; among them, Hong Chung bell is classified as a national Treasure. Each of the buildings and objects are marked with the traces from the golden eras of Thien Mu pagoda.

Along with Thien Mu, visitors to the ancient capital of Hue can also spend time visiting many beautiful ancient temples with tranquil atmosphere, rich history and many imprints related to the Kings of Nguyen Dynasty. They are Tu Dam Pagoda located on the top of Ben Ngu slope, Bao Quoc Pagoda, Tu Hieu Pagoda, Huyen Khong Son Thuong Pagoda, Thien Lam Pagoda, Tay Thien Pagoda, Thien Ton Pagoda, Truc Lam Pagoda, Truc Lam Bach Ma Monastery ... With over 200 pagodas, large and small, Hue is the land of most pagodas in the country. And this is one more advantage for Hue to attract visitors to visit and experience meditation life here, besides the strength which has been affirmed as cuisine and the royal architectural complex of Nguyen Dynasty.

Peaceful Tu Hieu. Photo: Dong Van

Waiting for the "push"

According to statistics of Vietnam's tourism industry in 2016, the industry served 62 million domestic tourists, a third of which travelled to spiritual destinations. For Thua Thien Hue, developing spiritual tourism is no longer a new issue. Many travel agencies such as Hue Tourism, Vietfun Travel, Huetravel, Asia Travel Land ... have introduced spiritual tourism featuring Tu Dam Pagoda, Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Hieu Pagoda, Truc Lam Bach Monastery, Princess Huyen Tran Temple, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva statue. These destinations are naturally established, with cultural layers accumulated through the long process of development of history and socio-economic life, creating deep spiritual values.

Deceased Professor Thai Quang Trung (Ph.D.), who made a great contribution to the development of the Hue tourism brand, once shared: “This is a “live” heritage, fostering deep spiritual aspirations of Hue people. Hue is a place to seek inspiration, enlightenment and creativity. Natural conditions and authentic cultural environment in Hue well suits wellness tourism, the most expensive "aristocratic" type of tourism in the world, allowing people to recuperate, balance themselves through refreshment and relaxation therapies. With the invaluable spiritual wealth of Thua Thien Hue, the authorities should change the image of the province to emphasize that this is the land of spirituality, peace and happiness rather than the traumatic land of war or modern industries,” Unfortunately, so far, Hue's spiritual tourism activities are still untapped potential.

According to Mr. Tran Viet Luc, head of the Tourism Research and Development Office (the Department of Tourism), for spiritual tourism activities in Thua Thien Hue to develop, it is important that information and images of the beautiful nature, the sacred places with great cultural values, the spiritual life of the predecessors on the land of Thua Thien Hue must be conveyed in time to visitors. However, this is a weakness of the provincial tourism industry.

"In addition, during the expanded seminars on the association of tourism development in the Central provinces, I have exchanged information and been aware of the visitors’ wish to stay in the pagodas to study the religion as well as meditate and relax. However, it not only requires the efforts from travel companies but also depends on the pagodas and tourism-promotion agencies. At present, travel companies are also organizing annual pilgrimage tours, but most of them are just about visiting the ancient pagodas of Hue with beautiful architecture, vegetarian cuisine which is the strength of Hue meditation tourism. Yet, this is not enough to keep visitors here," stressed Luc.

In 2017, the Department of Tourism has a specific plan to promote the development of spiritual tourism. The most important thing is to create an impetus to the psychology of visitors. With what Hue possesses, Thua Thien Hue is hoped to have more interesting spiritual tourism products to not only attract a stable source of visitors but also enhance sustainable development.

By Dong Van