Fodor's Expert Review Thien Mu Pagoda
Overlooking the Perfume River, this pagoda constructed in 1601 under Lord Nguyen Hoang has impressive Buddha statues, a seven-tiered monument, a bronze bell, and a marble turtle dating back to 1715. Take note of the engraved graffiti covering the turtle's shell, most of which dates back to the 1950s, when refugees from northern Vietnam inscribed notes of their whereabouts. As Hue's oldest pagoda, this structure still functions as a monastery and is perched on a hill above the river at the narrowest point in Vietnam. Housed inside the grounds is the Austin car once used by Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who lit himself on fire in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. The best way to reach this official symbol of Hue is by dragon boat up the Perfume River.