Chua Ong Nui (Ong Nui Pagoda) is a stunningly huge Buddha temple complex, carved into the mountainside in Binh Dinh province (next to Phu Yen in central-southern Vietnam) – definitely one to add to the temple wishlist!
With a huge number of pagodas and temples to enjoy throughout Vietnam, it’s easy to get templed-out. But seriously, Chua Ong Nui is a stunner that you really have to go see!
It’s still fairly unknown as it’s a little bit off-the-beaten-track, but this huge Buddha statue is apparently one of the biggest in South East Asia (if not the biggest, but I couldn’t verify that online)!
Climb the 600 steps to the top (they are harder than they look!), take a look around the Buddha temple complex that overlooks this majestic area of coastline – and don’t miss the adjoining pagoda on your way down!
Here’s our quick and easy guide to enjoying the amazing Ong Nui pagoda!
How to get to Ong Nui pagoda
This amazing location is probably only going to hit your wishlist if you’re stopping by at the nearby city of Quy Nhon. From there, it’s a fairly easy motorbike ride to the complex at Chua Ong Nui in Phuong Binh village – we’re talking around 30km and just over an hour (a bit less if you’re in a car). The road is fairly easy to drive, but very sandy, so watch out if it’s a windy day!
There doesn’t seem to be any obvious day tour option from Quy Nhon, but that doesn’t surprise me, since Quy Nhon is still in its tourist infancy. Maybe something to watch out for in the future.
What to see and do at Ong Nui pagoda
Once you reach the temple complex (if you’re motorbiking, there are a number of friendly and cheap parking options right opposite the main entrance), it’s fairly obvious what you’ve gotta do – climb those 600 steps baby!
It looks like the complex at Chua Ong Nui pagoda is destined for big things, as the ground floor of the complex is huge and a couple of buildings seem to be sprouting up…so maybe in a couple of years this complex will turn into something much larger and more tourist-friendly.
For now, climb those stairs and enjoy the slog! There are a number of levels, and you’ll be pleased to know there are refreshments on sale at each of those levels – some savvy Vietnamese have realized that the climb up those 600 stairs is thirsty work!
Once you reach the top, spend some time exploring the complex – first catch your breath of course, but there are some stunning views up there. It’s also pretty windy!
As you start heading down, watch out for the small signs to the Ong Nui pagoda on your right. You have to make your way across a makeshift path, but after a few meters you’ll come across the upper section of the pagoda. Make your way down the tricky steps (I’m sure this is a back entrance, there may be a friendlier entrance further down the steps).
OK, so the Buddha was hugely impressive, but the Ong Nui pagoda (also known as Linh Phong) is one of the best I’ve seen in Vietnam! Some 300 years old, this pagoda is a bit of a stunner, with various buildings and gardens to explore. You might have come for the Buddha, but if you don’t stop at this pagoda you’re definitely missing out on a true Vietnam gem. The pagoda actually celebrates the life of Buddhist monk Tinh Giac-Thien Tri (or “Ong Nui” (Old Nui)), who handed out medicine to local people to help cure them of diseases and epidemics.
Watch out for the annual Ong Nui Pagoda festival towards the end of the first lunar month – expect huge numbers of domestic and international tourists!