Do and Don’t tips for religion & culture in Vietnamese pagodas
When traveling to Asia, the impression of religion, Buddhist pagodas & temples is almost every where we go. With unique architecture and long history in many countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. However, not all the pagodas are for tourism. Western backpackers may be confused about what to do in the pagoda in their first time taking pagoda cultural tour. Here are some do and don’t tip for you to have a good experience in your pagoda tour.
Source: Le Duc Chinh
Most of the temples are very strict on the dress of the visitors. Visitors should not short skirts or no sleeve shirts when entering the pagoda. Some places have clothes rental services at the entrance gate but you probably don’t want to wear clothes that smell sweaty. So, better yet, you should prepare a formal dress that covers your knees and your arms before visiting a certain pagoda.
2.Take off your shoes and hats when going to the main worship area
You can wear shoes and hats around the pagoda space, but you may need to take them off when entering the worship area. So prepare yourself a comfortable pair of shoes and sandals.
- Hand clasping and bowing
Source: Le Duc Chinh
Bowing to the Buddha when entering the temple is what you should do no matter what religion you are. When you meet the monks, you should not say hello and give them a handshake but instead, clasp your hands and bow your head to them to pay homage.
- Give offerings
When coming to the temples, you should buy vegetarian offerings such as incense, flowers, ripe fruits, sticky rice, or sweet soups. But for backpackers, you are recommended to bring some flowers (roses, lilies, daisies, peony, etc) or fruits (bananas, dragon fruits, apples, pomelos, etc). And don’t bring any meat or savory food.
- Follow the instructions
In crowded tourist areas, there will probably be some directions around the pagoda that explain the standards of behavior that must be followed during the visit. In addition, there may be brochures guiding the map and providing basic information about the pagodas and its history.
- Point at the Buddha
Notice where you stand in relation to the Buddha statues. Bend your head as you kneel down and avoid pointing at both the monks and Buddha statues. When leaving the temple, take a few steps backward before turning your back on the Buddha.
- Talk and laugh loudly
Instead of walking around quickly and calling someone’s name out loud, lower your voice, whispering and moving in silence. By doing so, you will not disturb the people who are praying and ruining the sacred and peaceful atmosphere.
- Take photos with flash
Source: Anh Vy
There may be “no-camera” sign at some pagodas. But if not, do not take photos with the flash or even “selfie” with the Buddha statues.
- Brings many belongings
During ceremonies or festivals at the pagodas, there are likely to be thieves or pickpockets. Not bringing many items will keep you safe and not affect others if you move in the crowd.
- Enter the main front door
Souce: Frank MCKenna
There are usually 3 front doors to go to the temple. The main door in the middle is for monks. Tourists who come to the temple should enter by the right door and exit by the left door.
Knowing these tips will help you not to make serious mistakes, and give you interesting knowledge, so you can understand more about the place you are visiting.