The coastal city of Nha Trang, Vietnam is well-known for its world-class beaches, but just a few minutes away from the coast lies a rich religious and cultural history that won’t make you regret giving up the beach chair for a few hours.
Among the city’s main draws is Long Sơn Pagoda, home to the nearly-80-foot-tall statue of Gautama Buddha (Giant Buddha sighting #4). Cast in stark white concrete, it seemed to float among the blue skies and pillowy white clouds on the day we visited.
The Hindu temple of Po Nagar has enjoyed a long history in Nha Trang with a documented history beginning before 781 A.D. Constructed atop Cù Lao Mountain, the views of the city and the sea are spectacular. The steep steps to the top seemed to keep the tourists to a minimum, except for this group whose leader, dressed in the traditional áo dài dress and nón lá hat.
On the steps up to the Giant Buddha at Long Son Pagoda, we passed an equally-impressive 55-feet-long statue of the Reclining Buddha (Giant Buddha sighting #5). A more recent addition—it was built by the local Buddhist community in 2003—the statue is surrounded by carvings of 49 praying monks, representing the Mahayana Buddhism tradition of praying for the dead for 49 days after they pass.
The gorgeous Nha Trang Cathedral was built by the French in the 1930s and still has active services today. Statues of various saints circled the church, appearing saintly in the light of the setting sun.
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