Located at the base of Mount Trai Thuy in 22,23/10 Street, Nha Trang City, Lon Son Pagoda is considered one of the two most significant sacred places in the city, with the other one being the Hai Duc Temple. The remarkable pagoda was founded during late 19th Century and was rebuilt several times through the years. One look at the ancient pagoda and you will be taken aback with the adornments and the interesting architecture of the building. The entrance and roofs are adorned with sculpted dragons and contemporary interpretations of historical motifs. It is built in ceramic tiles and glass with intricate details. Ancient themes of dragons are used extensively through the entire complex, particularly in the main ceremonial hall.
Originally called Dang Long Tu or Dang Long Pagoda, Long Son Pagoda was built in 1886 in a different place under the care of an abbot named Thich Ngo Chi who arrived from Vinh Xuong, Khanh Hoa. However, a devastating cyclone occurred in 1900, which caused great damage to the temple and had to be transferred to the present location. In 1936, the pagoda was renamed and became the headquarters for the Buddhist Association of Khanh Hoa Province. Attempts to renovate the pagoda have been made after it was destroyed during the Vietnam War but the temple was not completely restored until recently.
Today, the Long Son Pagoda consists of an enormous complex of splendid buildings, halls and gardens. It connects to another remarkable pagoda named Hai Duc, which features a huge concrete figure of Gautama Buddha seated in lotus pedestal with an approximate height of 24 meters. At the foot of the Buddha are portraits of past monks who sacrificed their lives to protest against the Ngo Dinh Diem regime. Each portrait is carved on the paneled side of the statue and is framed in flame. The huge statue can be seen from a distance once you enter the city by taking the train or passing the National Highway.
Besides the big Buddha statues, there are several interesting parts of the temple. Indeed, the pagoda becomes one of Nha Trang’s chief points of interest. Some notable items are the murals telling local legends, the roof of the pagoda, the ceramic tiles and glass decors and the garden surrounding the temple. To get a closer glimpse of the White Seated Buddha, you have to climb 153 stone steps to reach the peak of the hill and you’ll be rewarded with a pastoral view of Nha Trang. While climbing up, you can stop at old Bell Tower, which is at the 49th step on the way to Gautama Buddha: it weighs 1.5 tons and stands 2.2 meters. Another interesting sight is the statue of Phat To Nhap Niet Ban, which is the temple’s lying Buddha and can be reached at the 44th step with a length of 17 meters and height of 5 meters. Long Son Pagoda is said to be dedicated to the monks and nuns who died during the Diem regime.