Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue is a Vietnam must see

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Thien Mu Pagoda, a rich piece of Hue history

The Thien Mu Pagoda is a local superstar in Hue. Every tour agency, local tour and Hue local will tell you it’s a must see.

It has a breathtaking location on the bank of the Perfume River and linked to a profound moment in history.

We weren’t going for the temples or tours or because of what we heard. Leon caught wind of a little blue Austin that had him in a frenzy. We are both automotive enthusiasts so it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to go and look at a car.

It wasn’t until we were there filming that he revealed the significance of THIS particular car.

It still gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

How we found out about Thien Mu Pagoda

We missed visiting this beauty on our first visit to Hue, but that meant we had a bit more time to find out more about it for our second visit.  We already knew it had a great historic presence in Hue and sits in a spectacular location. What we didn’t know was just how special this place really is thanks for one significant event in world history.

Where in Hue is the Thien Mu Pagoda

The Pagoda sits on the across the Perfume River from the city center and a couple of kilometers down from the Hue Imperial Palace.

How to get there

A popular choice is by taxi or GRAB and it won’t cost much. 

Something that is really fun and a more traditional method of transport is trying  one of the many local cyclos.

If you’re thinking of doing the Imperial Palace and Thien Mu Pagoda on the same day, then definitely negotiating a cheaper day rate with those guys. There is plenty of competition around and they tend to be negotiable.

Not keen to go out there by yourself? It’s not unusual as many travelers prefer either the company of others or enjoy a guided tour that provide more info.

There are loads of options to choose from like online agencies (check reviews before booking!) or you can simply walk down Chu Van Anh and walk into any of the tour operators office off the street.

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Looking for a tour option that is outside the box and will have you grinning from ear to ear? Then let us introduce you to Vespa Safari Hue! The gold standard of local Hue tours.

Renting a bicycle is another excellent way to explore Hue and her attractions. The Thien Mu Pagoda is one of many within a pleasant scenic ride from the city.

We preferred taking our two Honda Waves out there and parked them on the side of the road. There is a paid parking area next to the pagoda for VND5,000 (~USD0.21 / ~AUD0.30) if you prefer that option.

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Things to know before you head into the Thien Mu Pagoda

General Entry

Hours: 8AM – 5PM, Monday to Sunday.

Entry fee: No entry fee, it is free.

Dress code: No naked shoulders or knees for men or women. Inappropriately dressed visitors may not be able to enter.

Apart from being an historic place of interest, it’s also an active temple. Please be respectful.

The pagoda is also an outdoor attraction with limited cover. We suggest checking the weather forecast before you head on out to it.

Who would enjoy it?

It is a family friendly destination but not sure how much entertainment kiddos will get from it.

The Thien Mu Pagoda is perfect for history lovers.

We would suggest finding a guide who can tell you more about the history of the place. Learning about it would certainly make it a more enjoyable visit.

We opted to do it by ourselves armed with info we found online and that was fine too. We managed to learn quite a bit about it that way actually. We’ve also read some hilarious anecdotes relating to the Thien Mu Pagoda in the process.

How long does a visit take?

Our visit lasted about two and half hours. It gave us plenty of time to explore, take photos and get some footage for a vlog too.

You can easily combine a visit here with another spot in the area. The Imperial Palace or perhaps the Temple of Literature come to mind and both are interesting.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Follow us around the tranquil and surprising complex of the Thien Mu Pagoda

An famous historic event with ties to Thien Mu Pagoda

As I mentioned before, we were there for a little blue Austin. When Leon asked me if I recognized the car, I was a little confused. Then he told me to look at the picture on the back wall. 

That’s when it hit me!

Isn’t that the Rage Against the Machine album cover?

The picture I’m talking about is also called, “The Burning Monk” by Malcolm Browne. Feel free to Google it, but we warn you, it is graphic so please be careful.

It’s a harrowing story and well worth the read. We wrongly assumed it had to do with the Vietnam/American war and we couldn’t have been more wrong. The plight of this story had its own enormous significance. It resulted in a toppled government and made the whole world paying attention in united horror.

Total goosebumps

The monk in the picture, Thích Quang Duc was from Hue. The little blue Austin we’re talking about is the car he used to drive from Hue to Saigon in June 1963.

To stand there and see it in person was an experience I find hard to describe. The fact that someone thought to save the car and bring it back to Hue is mind blowing.

Seeing the photo broke my heart. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen it but I now knew the true meaning behind the act. Seeing the Austin didn’t just make it a photo anymore, it made it so real!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what seeing something from that picture could do?

What is the rest of Thien Mu like?

The Austin isn’t the only attraction. In fact, most people don’t even know about the Austin and its significance until they get there.

Phuoc Duyen Tower

Upon entering the pagoda, the The Phuoc Duyen tower greets you with all it’s glory. It’s an octagonal shaped, seven storey beauty. From what we’ve read, seven is a sacred number in Vietnam. Even the number of stairs can on each storey is divisible by seven.

In the same area is a six-sided pagoda, home to the Dai Hong Bell. Built in roughly 1710, this ~2,000 kg, this behemoth is audible from 10 kilometers away.

On the other side of Phuoc Duyen tower is a building that houses a stela that dates back as far as 1715.

Pagoda Grounds

Through the main gate is the Dai Hung Temple. This beautiful building is an active temple and loved by locals.

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Towards the rear there are a number of other temples and shrines. Each one has its own unique origin and legend around it. We’ve read so many different things that it would be good to have a guide to know which ones are true.

Just walking around the grounds leaves you with this calm and peaceful feeling.

Mind you we did get there right on open time and there weren’t many people there yet. Our advice is to get there just before it opens to enjoy as much of it in peace as you can.

If you get a chance, head on over to the Old Gate that used to the part of the original perimeter for the temple grounds.  It has an fantastic few across the Perfume River.

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What other things are there to do in Hue?

Hue has a lot on offer and it’s legit one of our favorite cities to visit in Vietnam!

It’s also home of some of Vietnam’s most famous dishes like Bun Bo Hue and banh beo.  There is also no shortage of eateries around. All you have to do is head to the tourist area  (Chu Van Anh street, Le Loi street, Doi Cung street and Nguyen Thai Hoc street)

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Experience the wonder of Hue from the historic Hue Imperial Citadel

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Crazy House Da Lat (Hang Nga Guesthouse)

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Do one crazy house thing in Da Lat!

Crazy House! You might be wondering what would inspire a visit to this crazy looking place.

First impressions of Crazy House will leave you confused, asking what on earth you’re looking at but trust us when we say, there is reason for the madness.

This labyrinth of narrow bridges crawling over a mish-mash of unique structures, is a well-known landmark. Not only in Da Lat but Vietnam as well.

It features in almost every travel guidebook list of ‘bizarre things’ or ‘crazy things’ to do in Da Lat.

Not to mention countless blog posts, Facebook posts and even Instagram and Pinterest.

So, it’s not hard to find at all.

Where is Crazy House?

It’s a quick and cheap taxi or GRAB ride from the city center.

Or if you are feeling energetic, it’s a good ten to fifteen-minute walk.

For those travelling by scooter or motorbike, there is parking available at a cost of VND 5,000 (~USD 0.20 / ~AUD 0.30) per bike for the day.

Roll up and park on the left of the drive and make sure you tuck in nice and tight. The attendant on hand will show you the best place to park on busy days.

The staff offered to put our our full faced helmets in the ticket office, which we did reluctantly.  Not only would they be a pain to replace but they had our Bluetooth sets on them too, hence us being hesitant about it.

In the end it was the best decision. Walking around with them would have been a mare on the narrow stairs alone. Not to mention trying to wade through the throngs of people with them.

Not sure where to start looking for bus tickets, time tables and the like?

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What makes Crazy House so popular?

It is actually an active guesthouse, called Hang Nga Guesthouse . You can book to stay the night in one of many available rooms. It’s been voted one of the craziest places to stay in the world.

Affiliate disclosure: The information above contains an affiliate link for our accommodation partner, Hotels Combined. We trust and used them for most of our trip and we are happy to recommend their services (especially since they were so easy to use and found us really good choices too.) Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site.  You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do use them, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!

You’ll have to share your accommodation with curious visitors all day long, lol! So, make sure you’re okay with that first.

The guesthouse started as one structure. Designed and built by architect Dang Viet Nga.

It was a personal project and the idea was to make it look like a banyan tree. Incorporating the elements of nature, inspired by the beautiful surroundings of Da Lat.  It also incorporated elements from her favorite architect, Antony Guidi.

The original building has four rooms. Each one with its own nature inspired themed.

Since opening in 1990, Hang Nga Guesthouse has swelled into three large structures.

They are all connected by a network of narrow stairs dancing in and around the buildings in a crazy jig.

Hang Nga continues to grow, inspired by artist submissions as well as local craftsmen, earning it the name, Crazy House.

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Things to do in Da Lat

What is there to see at Crazy House?

Simple. The whole place!

Crawling all over, in and through this beautiful maze is something else!

So many themes and styles in one place that it doesn’t seem like it could work anywhere but Vietnam.  It truly is unique.

One minute you’re surrounded by soft, rounded angles. The next you’re traversing super narrow stairs with little or no railing.  It really is a crazy experience.

We’ve never seen anything like it and probably never will again.

There is plenty of new construction too. It left us curious about what the new will grow into and look like when it’s finished.

One of our favorite things was the original reception area.  It has been beautifully preserved and dedicated to someone special.

We later learned the man in the photos was Nga’s father, Truong Chinh, who was the second president of Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh.

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Guided tour or DIY?

There is no tour here. Which we thought would have been very handy.

There is plenty of information on Crazy House all over the place, but none of it is in English.

We did a fair bit of reading up after our visit as we had a lot of questions. We suggest you do a bit of reading before you head out as it might make a bit more sense.

Who would enjoy coming to Crazy House?

It’s a bit of fun and almost like a jungle gym for adults. But we would say mostly adults only. And for those who love architecture, this is a feast on the senses!

One thing to note. We didn’t see any small children here and that wasn’t a bad thing. There were plenty of things around that left us questioning the safety aspect of a lot of them.

If you want to take kids with you, we recommend doing some reaching first. Find out from those who have been with kids and get their advice. We don’t have them so we can’t give you any.

Entry fee

The entry fee for Crazy House costs VND 50,000 (~USD 2.15 / ~AUD 3.00) per person (haven’t seen a separate price for children listed anywhere). And it’s open 7 days a week between 8:30 AM and 7 PM, including holidays.

What did we think of the experience?

This was a crazy experience!

Not only was the whole place crazy, but the crowd was crazy too so, it pays to bring your patience.

And a camera! Taking photos here is unreal. You never know if you’re capturing it in a way that will make sense when you show it to someone who hasn’t been there, lol!

It certainly was one of the craziest, quirkiest and bizarre things we’ve done to date!

We had a great time at Crazy House and highly recommend a visit if you are in Da Lat.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Is this the craziest house in southeast Asia?!!

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Looking for your perfect Da Lat accommodation?

From 2 star to rock star! Da Lat can accommodate any need for any traveler. Find yours here!

Affiliate disclosure: The information above contains an affiliate link for our accommodation partner, Hotels Combined. We trust and used them for most of our trip and we are happy to recommend their services (especially since they were so easy to use and found us really good choices too.) Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site.  You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do use them, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!