Truc Lam Monastery – Vietnam’s Largest Zen Monastery
Truc Lam Monastery is just outside the resort town of Dalat. It is Vietnam’s largest Zen monastery and a wonderful, must-see when you’re in Dalat. We completely loved this place and think most visitors will too.
It’s easy to get “templed-out” when visiting Vietnam, but Truc Lam Monastery is more than your typical temple visit. Truc Lam is also located on a mountaintop, immersed in natural beauty, has great views of Tuyen Lam Lake and the surrounding highlands.
Visiting the Truc Lam Temple allows you to experience both the culture of Vietnam and some its natural beauty at the same time. And we haven’t even mentioned the scenic cable car ride that brings you here.
The Cable Car Ride to Truc Lam Monastery
The best way to reach Truc Lam is via the gondola cable car from Robin Hill. The cable car ride spans for 1.6 miles (2.6km) from Robin Hill to Phoenix Summit, the location of Truc Lam Monastery. The ride is fun and incredibly scenic.
You’ll pass over picturesque farmland and gaze on rolling, green hills that stretch out to infinity. A round trip ticket is only 70,000VND ($3USD). You could also take a taxi to the monastery, but come on. You can’t pass us on that view!
The Temples and Meditation Halls of Truc Lam Monastery
True to its Zen heritage, Truc Lam Monastery is beautiful but has a refined and elegant style. Other Buddhist temples around Dalat have a more grandiose and even wacky style.
If you have the time, we recommend seeing these too. They all impressed us in different ways, but if you want the beauty of simplicity and serenity, Truc Lam is the place.
The Views, Grounds, and Gardens of Truc Lam Monastery
Located on the top of Phoenix Summit, there are scenic views everywhere you look.
Beyond the view itself, there’s a liberating feeling of the vast, expansive space. You can get this on any mountaintop (especially taller ones), but when you’re standing in a Zen monastery on a mountaintop call Phoenix Summit, it adds a few cool points to the experience. At least it did for us.
The beautiful grounds are massive. You could walk around for hours if you wanted. There’s a paved walkway around the grounds that’s lined with fragrant and pretty pine trees.
The path will take you to Truc Lam’s huge fish pond. It’s manmade from concrete, but it’s lovely and oddly entertaining, with so many turtles and lively fish.
The path also goes all the way down to Tuyen Lam Lake. So if you wanted, you could spend time enjoying the lake or have a nice boat ride, before returning to the monastery.
As you walk the grounds, you can’t help but be impressed by the many gardens. There are just so many gorgeous flowers.
The trees with intertwining trunks are also a very Zen-like treat as you admire their beauty and try to figure them out.
Truc Lam Monastery is so beautiful, scenic, and serene, it’s tough to leave it. Until you realize that you get to ride the sky gondola back to Robin Hill and Dalat city.
* Entrance to the monastery is free, but they accept donations.
* A taxi ride from Dalat city center to Robin Hill is a few minutes long and costs only a couple bucks.
* Spending at least one hour to explore the many buildings, sprawling grounds, and lovely gardens of Truc Lam is highly recommended. We actually spent more than 3 hours here, but we really took our sweet time. We even had a little picnic under the pine trees.
* There are food and drink vendors right outside the main gate, close to the cable car station. Having vendors nearby makes a picnic in the monastery hassle-free. Keeping the vendors outside the monastery maintains the right atmosphere inside the gates.
* By the way, if you haven’t tried the famous Vietnamese sandwich called a “Bahn Mi” this is a good opportunity. It’s delicious and an easy picnic food.
What interests you about Truc Lam? Would you include it in your Dalat itinerary?
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