The Giant Lotus Leaves at Phuoc Kien Pagoda (Lotus Pagoda)

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Lotus Pagoda: Home of the Giant Lotus Leaves

The ancient pagoda of Phuoc Kien, also known as the Lotus Pagoda, is a is a popular and fun place for tourists to visit due to the rather odd sight of large lotus leaves growing and dominating the pagoda’s two ponds.

Whilst the Lotus Pagoda, located in the Dong Thap region of the Mekong Delta, is a place of worship and the reason many come to visit, the giant lotus leaves, that can grow up to 3 meters wide, turn this pagoda into a unique tourist destination.

Growing in the ponds since the early 1990’s, they are big enough and thick enough to handle the weight of an adult of around 80kgs.

Getting Your Photo Taken on the Giant Leaf

As a result, there is always a small line of kids and adults ready to step out onto one of the leaves for a photo. The main leaf used for the photo has a green plastic cylinder for extra support making the experience a little safer.

And there’s no need to worry about missing out on the perfect photo as there is a professional photographer on-hand, with the cost of sitting on the lotus leaf and a photo to take home being 20,000 Dong (USD1).

Child standing on a giant lotus leaf at Lotus Pagoda
A steady stream of visitors lining up for a photo on the giant lotus leaf

The pagoda itself is always a hive of activity with the grounds catering for larger crowds.

Along the entrance driveway to the Lotus Pagoda there is a small market selling local fruits and vegetables, herbs, snacks, as well as a nick knack or two, but no real tourist trinkets.

Delicious Vegetarian Lunch

Once inside, there is an area set aside for eating where a free vegetarian lunch is available. When approaching the area, you will be directed to a table, and once the table fills with other patrons, plates of delicious food will be delivered for everyone to share.

I recommend sitting down to a meal at the pagoda as not only is it a chance to eat delicious local Vietnamese food, you will be able to meet fellow visitors who have made the trek to visit the pagoda, as well as enjoying the local hospitality.

A free vegetarian meal is available at the pagoda 

 

Another quirky sight at the pagoda are tortoises being raised by the monks. When I visited, there were four lined up against one of the walls. Worshippers make an offering to the tortoises by placing a few thousand dong under the string that wraps around them. There are more tortoises in a water tank outside the temple.

4 Tortoises lined up for receiving donations at the Lotus Pagoda
Worshippers would donate small amounts to the tortoises.

The Lotus Pagoda is a fun place to visit and a must see on your tour of Dong Thap region.

A few interesting facts about the Lotus Pagoda.

• The giant lotus leaf plant originates from the Amazon in South America, and are the largest variety of the Nymphaeaceae family of water lilies.
• The lotus leaves can carry a person up to 80kgs, and the day I was there this was easily achieved.
• The Pagoda is usually busy every day and is especially so on Buddhist festivals and special days, and therefore best avoided if you are mainly visiting to see the giant lotus leaves.
• The two ponds were said to be formed during the bombing of the pagoda in 1966, where two large craters were formed. Much of the pagoda was destroyed during the war however locals worked together to rebuild into its current form.
• The pagoda was established in the 18th century and was used as a resistance base against the French and the Americans.

Best time to visit Lotus Pagoda:

The lotus leaves are at their largest during the wet season, especially from September to November, however they are there to see year-round.

Getting to Lotus Pagoda:

Lotus Pagoda is located a 20-minute drive from Highway 80. Once you are close, you will need to cross a small wooden bridge before following a small track until the pagoda comes into view. Friendly locals are happy to point you in the right direction.

Parking:

Free motorcycle parking is available within the grounds with paid parking available for 5,000 dong in the café near the front gate.

Where to stay:

Papaya Homestay Sa Dec is a 20 minute motorbike ride or a one hour by bicycle.

Accomodation at the homestay includes private bungalows located in the fruit garden, and rooms with comfortable beds in the house. The homestay has a daily 4-hour boat tour taking in local markets, the family fruit and fishing farm, as well as a chance to taste local specialties throughout the trip.

For more information on the bungalows and rooms click here and for more information on activities click here.

For availability and bookings, visit the homestay listing at booking (dot) com here:

Entrance gates to Lotus Pagoda
Entrance gates to Lotus Pagoda
The giant lotus leaves cover the largest pond