Van Duc is one of Hoi An’s oldest pagodas, dating back to the 1600s. It is dedicated to Buddha and houses statues of Avalokitecvara Bodhisattva, Dia Tang Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha within its three chambers.
Although the building is outside of the Old Town, it has been painted in the same yellow hue as many of the Old Town’s buildings. This color is thought to be a lucky symbol, bringing good health and prosperity. The main hall to the pagoda was completely rebuilt in 2016, using traditional materials. Set within ample grounds, the pagoda is a joy to visit and a place of real serenity, away from the city’s more bustling attractions.
Buddhist monks from Hoi An have lived on the site for centuries, and the number of ancient trees and shrubs within the pagoda’s grounds are testament to its longevity. If you visit the pagoda around 6pm at the time of the full moon, you’ll be able to see the monks releasing lanterns into the river close by.
It’s a magical thing to witness, with the monks chanting quietly on the journey from the pagoda through the rice fields, and the river dotted with small floating candles. Visit Van Duc on special occasions – such as around Tet or Buddha’s birthday – and you’ll find even more residents at the pagoda. Monks will travel from around Quang Nam Province to be there at these times.
How to Get to Van Duc Pagoda
Van Duc Pagoda lies within the Dong Ha Village, to the north-west of Hoi An’s Old Town. It’s approximately 3.5km from the Thu Bon River in the center of the town, and around 2km from An Bang Beach. If the weather is cool enough, it’s a simple walk along lesser-used streets or across rice fields – close to the bustling Old Town but a world away from the high number of tourists one can find there.
The easiest way to Van Duc Pagoda is by cycling, hiring a private car with driver, or hiring a motorbike. You can ask your driver to wait whilst you explore the pagoda, and agree a fee in advance, to and from your destination.
If you’re traveling solo from the Old Town, head north on Hai Ba Trung Street to the intersection between Ly Thuong Kiet and Nguyen Tat Thanh. Head west and then take a right along Nguyen Chi Thanh. Head north for approximately 1.5km and you’ll find Van Duc Pagoda shortly after the road turns east.
Tips for Visiting
Use your discretion when visiting Van Duc Pagoda. Dress appropriately – beachwear is not advisable, and consider covering your legs and shoulders. Remove your shoes when entering the building and respect others by not taking photographs of monks or worshippers. It’s advisable to not walk in-between anyone praying and their object of prayer. Entering the pagoda is free but donations are always welcome.