The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) in Hanoi was one of my favourite places in the city when I last visited in May 2015, so I was keen to go again on my return trip in February 2018.
Last time I visited, I remember desperately seeking shade and eating an ice lolly to cool down. This time everyone was huddled in puffer jackets and scarves, and drinking tea to warm up!
The temple was just as tranquil as I remembered, despite all the tourists and the sound of traffic in the distance. It is quite a walk there and back from the old town but worth it. You can take a taxi if you don’t fancy trying to cross all the busy roads.
The cost of admission is just 30,000 VND (approximately 93p) so it’s very good value for money.
The Temple dates back to 1070 and was a sanctuary for Confucian learning. You enter via the Van Mieu Gate and walk through five walled courtyards.
Enter the third courtyard via the Khue Van Cac (double roofed gateway) to get to the Well of Heavenly Clarity.
My favourite bit of the complex is the 82 stone stelae mounted on tortoises. Each stele records the biographical details and achievements of the scholars who studied at the temple.
The next area is the courtyard of sages leading to the main temple buildings. During Tet (Vietnamese New Year) people play human chess games on the square paving stones; a sight I would like to see!
The House of Ceremonies at the far end of the courtyard hosts the altar of Confucius.