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National Geographic Honours Two Vietnamese Pagodas
15 November 2019 | Written by Chris Alexander

National Geographic has named Vietnam’s Tran Quoc and Buu Long Pagodas in their list of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist monuments. The US-based non-profit organization and respected educational digest selected the two structures, located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, respectively, due to their unique appearance, location and the heritage they represent.

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi was placed ninth in National Geographic’s the list of the world’s 20 “most beautiful Buddhist temples”, printed in the June edition of the magazine in 2019. The structure has stood for nearly 15 centuries on the east side of the city’s West Lake, alongside a sacred Bodhi tree believed to be a descendent of the original tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment in India. The tree was presented to President Ho Chi Minh by India’s first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, during a visit to Hanoi in 1959.

Buu Long Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City appeared in the 11th spot on the Natgeo list, along with a passage that referenced the “carved dragons that curve down the temple stairs and a turquoise pool reflecting the temple’s white walls and golden spires.” Located in District 9 on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, the pagoda was built in 1942 and is infused with influences from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, along with elements of design inspired by the Indian subcontinent. Unlike the majority of other Vietnamese temples, where many deities are worshipped, only the Buddha is honoured in this pagoda.

A number of other sites in Southeast Asia also made the list, including the Borobudur Temple Complex in Indonesia, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, the ancient Bagan stupas of Myanmar, the all-white Wat Rong Khun in Thailand, Laos’ ancient Wat Xieng Thong and Thean Hou Temple in Malaysia.

Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist nation, with more than 70% of the population known to follow Buddhist practices. The religion may have first come to Vietnam as early as the 3rd or 2nd century BCE from India or China in the 1st or 2nd century CE. Today, many superb structures, such as temples, shrines and pagodas, stand as a testament to Buddhism’s enduring influence in Vietnam. These superb relics are widely regarded as some of the world’s finest.