With its Buddhist history stretching back more than 2,500 years, together with more than 10 million followers of Buddhism and over 100 pagodas in the country, Vietnam is a most wonderful Zen tourism destination.
Zen, which espouses experiential wisdom in the path to enlightenment, is a school of traditional Mahayana Buddhism. The school favors direct self-realization via meditation and dharma, rather than emphasizing theoretical knowledge like other forms of Buddhism.
The first documented emergence of Zen as a school of Buddhism took place in China, during the 7th century B.C. From there, Zen Buddhism slowly spread southwards, embracing Vietnam by around the year 580 AD.
Zen was allowed to develop strongly under the dynasties of Ly Tranh and Trinh Nguyen, and its philosophy and teachings has resulted in a Vietnamese lifestyle and culture that is distinct from that of its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam is one of the top destinations for Zen tourism – with hundreds of pagodas to be toured, festivals to attend. It is a place where those interested in this unique philosophy and moral code can come to learn how to live a more fulfilling life.
The Buddhist architecture in Vietnam is simply stunning in its ornate, simple beauty. Visitors are invited to observe and even take part in the Buddhist priest ceremonies and activities – indeed, you can even be ordained as a monk if you so wish.
Other aspects of Zen include its wonderful arts – the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, bonsai and more.
With over 120 pagodas to be seen in Vietnam, including such stunning sites as Tran Quoc and Ba Da in Hanoi, Tu An, Giac Vien and Giac Lam in Saigon to name just a few, Vietnam is fast becoming the first choice for Zen tourism.