Hue is the center of Buddhism in Vietnam and has many pagodas that have been built in the last 400 years. I was introduced to Thich Nu Dieu Dat, the chief nun of Dong Thien Pagoda, by a friend of mine who is one of the best tour guides in Hue. It was a rainy day in Hue in the summer of 2005. I was soaking wet when I arrived at the pagoda, but immediately upon entering, my uncomfortable feeling of being wet just disappeared. Located on top of a hill, Dong Thien is a very green, peaceful and quiet pagoda with a great view from the top. Time seems to be much slower here with its overwhelming atmosphere of peace. The pagoda has a beautiful yard and a very interesting garden that can supply vegetables for the nuns.
We sat inside the pagoda and had a great talk with the nun. She is a master of Zen, and you can see the influence of this peaceful philosophy everywhere here. I then understood why I felt so calm and comfortable in this place. The rain was still pouring outside, and the nun invited us to stay inside and have some vegetarian dishes from their lunch. It was so good and is still one of the best meals I have had in my life. But beyond the good food, I felt peace in my mind after visiting the nun and her pagoda. So I proposed that she receive travelers who want to visit her pagoda and experience the vegetarian food prepared by the nuns, and she accepted.
People coming to Dong Thien Pagoda can follow a beautiful path in the cool shade of the trees while going uphill. From the top, you will have a great view and can admire the beautiful location of the pagoda before entering through the main gate. You can take a walk around and visit the main hall of the pagoda with its beautiful collection of Buddha statues. You can even visit the kitchen and say “hi” to the nuns who will prepare your lunch on a wood burning stove. Then you can sit down and experience the typical meal of the nuns in Hue. After lunch, you can enjoy some dessert and interact with the nuns to get to know more about their lives in the pagoda, the practice of Buddhism, and how they became nuns. The lunch at Dong Thien Pagoda is one of the most special meals in Vietnam provided through our company.
Lunch at Dong Thien Pagoda is included in Full-Day Hue Imperial City Tour.