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Hon Chen Temple: Discover Hue Spiritual Place

Hon Chen Temple is one of the most ideal places to explore Hue’s Spiritual cultural beauty. With the simplicity of an ordinary day or the colorful brightening of a festival, the beauty of Hon Chen Temple still draws you to Hue City. Let’s  Deluxe Group Tours guide you with a general guideline for Hon Chen Temple.

Navigating Hon Chen Temple

1. Location

Hon Chen Temple is located on Ngoc Tran Mountain, along the picturesque banks of the Perfume River, in Ngoc Ho Village, Huong Ho Ward, Thua Thien Hue Province. It is situated 8km southwest of the city center of Hue. This temple holds significant importance in the spiritual life of the local people in Hue. Furthermore, it is the only temple in Hue that combines court rituals with folk cultural beliefs.

When visiting Hon Chen Temple, visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of 50,000 VND per person. Additionally, children aged 7 to 12 are granted free admission. The opening hours for visitors are from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

2. Moving instruction

The temple is located about 8km southwest of the central city of Hue. You can easily reach here by any means of transportation or even by boat.

For a unique experience, you should consider taking a boat. Dragon boat will cruise on the Perfume River to reach the Hon Chen Temple. Along the way, you can enjoy the charming landscapes of the poetic river and mountains in the ancient capital of Hue.

If you prefer traveling by road for convenience, simply follow the Bui Thi Xuan route. Then, turn onto Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street and head to Than Wharf. From there, take a boat to reach Hon Chen Temple.

Whether by boat or any other means of transportation, Hon Chen Temple is a worthwhile destination to explore.

Hon Chen Temple from ancient times to the present

The Hon Chen Temple was initiated during the reign of King Gia Long and is primarily dedicated to the Daoist religion. However, during the Nguyen dynasty, the temple was mentioned in ancient texts with the formal name “Ngoc Tran Son Tu,” meaning “temple worshipping on Ngoc Tran mountain.” In the Dong Khanh era (1886–1888), the temple’s name was changed to Hue Nam Temple, signifying the distribution of blessings upon the southern kingdom. Additionally, the temple is associated with various fascinating legends.

The name Hon Chen, or Hoan Chen, commonly used by the people, originates from a legend involving Minh Mang King. It is said that during one visit, Minh Mang accidentally dropped a jade cup into the Perfume River, thinking it was irretrievable. Suddenly, a big turtle emerged with the jade cup in its mouth, returning it to the king. Since then, the name Hoan Chen has emerged, symbolizing the act of “returning the jade cup.”

The Hon Chen Temple was where the Cham people worshiped the goddess Ponagar in old periods. Subsequently, the Vietnamese followed the indigenous religion of Thien Tien Thanh and continued to worship her under the title of Holy Mother Thien Y A Na. Moreover, the temple also venerates Buddha, Saint Quan Cong, and over 100 other deities who are disciples of the previous saints and gods.

Highlight activities in Hon Chen Temple

1. Explore the architecture

Ten prominent architectural works amidst the lush green forest promise to be one of the places that help you explore the peak of late 19th-century architecture, with captivating artistic architectural details inside the temple.

Hon Chen Temple: Discover Hue Spiritual Place

Most notable is Minh Kinh Dai, located in the middle, facing the river. As this is the venue for ceremonies at Hon Chen Temple, the decoration here is representative, featuring images of mythical phoenixes symbolizing optimistic signs for this sacred land. Especially on the roofs, the phoenix is portrayed through intricate porcelain enamel art, giving you the impression that the phoenixes are gathering here from the mountainous forest.

Hon Chen Temple: Discover Hue Spiritual Place

The zones on the right are the Quan Cu House, Trinh Cat Institute, and Thanh Pagoda. On the left is the Ngu Vi Thanh Ba Palace, the altar of officials, the temple dedicated to Ha Ban (also known as the tiger), and Am Ngoai Canh. Along the riverbank, at the end of the road on the left, is the Am Thuy Phu.

2. Take photos to capture moments

The Hon Chen Temple offers panoramic views of the river, making it an ideal location for beautiful photos featuring the picturesque natural scenery of Hue City. Although photos taken inside the temple are not allowed, you can still capture stunning images from the outside. The spiritual destination’s unique architectural and cultural-historical space will provide stunning photos.

3. Listen to the legend of Hon Chen

The Temple of Hon Chen has been associated with mysterious legends since its inception.

The legend of the goddess Ponagar is intertwined with the tale of the child of Ngoc Hoang (the Jade Emperor), sent to the mortal world and credited with creating the earth and various crops, including rice and agarwood. According to the myth, this child is none other than the goddess Ponagar of the Cham people. In ancient folklore, it is believed that this Cham goddess shares many similarities with the Vietnamese goddess in the spiritual realm. Due to this relationship, she was later accepted and revered by the Vietnamese as Holy Mother Thien Y A Na.

The worship statue of Holy Mother Thien Y A Na at Hon Chen Temple

The legend is also linked to King Thieu Tri, who recounted that one day after King Thieu Tri built a village near the Hon Chen Temple, he and his concubines sailed against the current of the Perfume River to visit the village. However, while passing the temple, one of the king’s wives accidentally dropped a small golden tube into a deep, dark abyss of water. She regretted the loss of the tube and advised the king to pray to Holy Mother Thien Y A Na to retrieve the item. Initially, King Thieu Tri did not believe in this spiritual matter and somewhat mocked it. Surprisingly, the tube slowly floated to the surface and was recovered intact. Witnessing this miraculous event, the king pledged to repair and renovate the temple. Unfortunately, before he could fulfill his promise, the king passed away.

The legends associated with the goddess Ponagar, those linked to King Thieu Tri, and even the tale of King Minh Mang dropping the jade cup were always captivating stories that drew people to listen.

4. Enjoy the Hon Chen Temple Festival

Hon Chen Temple Festival takes place twice a year, in the third month of the lunar calendar (spring festival) and the seventh month of the lunar calendar (autumn festival), with the folk name being the 7th month of the Father and the 3rd month of the Mother.

The event is divided into two main parts: the Nghinh Than ceremony to process goddess Thien Y A Na from Hon Chen temple to Hai Cat village communal house and the Chanh Te ceremony, which is performed right after the Nghinh Than ceremony is completed.

Nghinh Than Ceremory is like a folk culture festival held extremely solemnly on the Perfume River with many colorful dragon boats carved with winding dragons and phoenixes and surrounded by colorful flags and flowers. The festive atmosphere is vibrant in the singing of the shaman who sings Chau Van (Vietnamese ritual singing) on the voyage to Hon Chen Temple, where the Holy Mother is worshiped.

The Chanh Te ceremony is conducted with many diverse activities, such as welcoming the Holy Mother, releasing animals, releasing lanterns, worshiping Hai Cat village, etc. You will be attracted to respond to this local and spiritual culture as the festival’s dynamic and unique is always fascinating.

The most attractive point of this belief is “Lên Đồng” ceremony. This is a unique spiritual ritual in when the shaman wears the costume of a god and dances to music and lyrics describing that god. In particular, “Mother Goddess worship” is mainly the Hau Dong ceremony of Vietnam, which was recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage on December 1, 2016, and officially included in the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Because this festival only takes place twice a year, if you want to enjoy the festival’s atmosphere, March and July of the lunar calendar are the best times to visit this place. At the same time, this is also the ideal time to visit Ho Chen Temple when the rainy season in Hue has not yet begun.

Hon Chen Temple Travel Tips

  • The road is quite narrow, making it potentially dangerous. Therefore, it is advisable to choose boat travel to ensure safety and have a more interesting experience.
  • Inside the temple, photography is prohibited.
  • Due to the sacred nature of the area, it is recommended to dress modestly, avoiding excessive exposure that may disrupt the serene atmosphere inside the temple.
  • Refrain from loud and noisy behavior in the temple precinct.
  • Maintain general cleanliness to preserve the beauty of the landscape for those who come after you.
  • Even during festivals, where many locals may throw various paper offerings into the Perfume River to seek good fortune, it is advisable to refrain from doing so. This is because such actions can negatively impact the ecosystem of aquatic life in the river and contribute to environmental pollution.

 

 

 

Kris Goetghebeur

Kris Goetghebeur

With over 20 years of work experience, ranging from seasonal to full-time assignments in different sectors of the Travel, Recreation, Hostelry, and Service Industry, I have a strong background. I have been based in Saigon, Vietnam, since 1999. My educational qualifications include a degree in Management in Tourism and Recreation Studies as well as a degree in Accountancy. I am proficient in French, Dutch, English, and German. I have extensive experience in crafting tailor-made tours and incentive packages, boasting a nearly 100% satisfaction record from my customers.