Vietnam is a small predominantly Buddhist country with a long history of many religions including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam extending for centuries and millennia. If you are looking for temples, pagodas, or sacred places to visit on your Vietnam culture tours, you are definitely not going to be disappointed. There are over thousands of pagodas and shrines dedicated to the reserved icon in this small country in Indochina.
Temples are everywhere in Vietnam
The most famous, important, and iconic temples are the Perfume Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Yen Tu Pagoda, the Thien Mu Pagoda, etc. One thing you need to be aware of if you are visiting these temples on your Vietnam culture tours is the strict dress code. If you are visiting any temple in Vietnam, whether it is in Northern Vietnam, Central region, or cities in the South, the dress code is always enforced and you are expected to dress respectfully.
Temple Etiquette is something difficult to master for visitors, both men, and women, especially first-time ones, to Vietnam. All already know that dressing properly when visiting temples or other sacred places in our S-shaped land is compulsory. But dressing properly can be interpreted in so many ways.
GENERAL STYLE TIPS
Prepare your own right footwear
Prepare your own right footwear
Probably the easiest thing to make a mistake with is your feet. In Vietnam, you will not need to remove your shoes at any point in either Buddhist or Taoist temples, except the main worshiping area. In addition, some pagodas like the Perfume Pagoda require an uphill walk of about an hour and things can get slippery. Thus, it is wise to do bring along enough of the proper shoes to wear. Buying shoes in Vietnam can be difficult if you have larger feet. Make sure you have at least one pair of good, comfortable walking shoes. Buying brand new shoes to break in while you are on your travel to Vietnam is not a good idea.
Opt for neat, clean, and tidy conservative clothing out of respect for the monks and locals
General style code
Not all temples, shrines, or sacred places follow the same dress code rules. But you might feel out of place in shorts, sleeveless tops, or any outfits with modest skin coverage. Therefore, short summarized: cover up your shoulders, cleavages, legs, ankles, and knees (both sexes), and no tight-fitting trousers such as leggings, top with sleeves rolled up, and see-through or belly showing clothing. Your chest should also be well covered.
That could take you a week or longer to pack right there and think how little room that would take up in your suitcase. But if you follow our top instructions, you will definitely be dressed properly enough for visiting temples, pagodas, or other sacred places to know more about the cultural identity of Vietnam.
GENERAL BEHAVIOR TIPS
The first thing to know is that you should respect those who are worshipping. Never get in the way of people who are actually there to worship. It is not uncommon to see Vietnamese or even tourists (for religious purposes) gathering to make merit, pray, give offerings, and more at any one of the popular temples.
General behavior tip
The feet are furthest from your head and touch the ground, so the feet are believed to be the most disrespectful part of someone’s body in Vietnam. Be sure not to point your feet at anyone. Another thing to bear in mind – never use your finger to point at people, the images of Buddha, or any religious imagery.
Do not run around, talk loudly, and spit inside the worshiping place. Feel free to speak in low voices. You should also take rowdy or unhappy children out of the worship area.
Vietnam’s temples and pagodas – known as “đền – chùa” — are literally everywhere. For many Vietnamese culture enthusiasts, temples win the battle in many ‘what to do in Vietnam guides’! It is arguably the best place to learn about Vietnamese religion and spiritual life and there is no doubt that they should be on your list of top attractions to visit in Vietnam. But what you should do or should avoid when visiting a temple in Vietnam?