Known as the first university in Vietnam, Temple of Literature seems like a gripping book that you cannot overlook. When searching “Temple of Literature” on the internet, you will get millions of articles or blogs that provide the most basic information about this destination like history, architecture, or something like that.

If you were sick and tired of a bunch of informative but boring articles, so congratulations! YOU FOUND US!

In this article, let me tell you some interesting and spellbinding facts behind the symbol of education in Hanoi – Temple of Literature. Trust me, you will find yourself pleasantly overwhelmed by these fascinating stories because they come from a definitely different view of a LOCAL!

I.  Temple of Literature House| Tickets, dress codes, entrance fee 

Temple of Literature Hours

Opening all days except national events

  • In November to March: 8.00a.m to 5.00p.m
  • The rest months: 7.30a.m to 6p.m

Temple of Literature Hanoi Map

Temple of Literature located on Van Mieu street in Hanoi

Temple of Literature Dress Code

Visitors should pay attention to formal outfits, specifically no hat, shorts or a mini skirt when visiting worshipping/sanctuary parts.

Temple of Literature Entrance fee

  • Adult: 30,000 VND for Vietnamese and foreigners
  • Students: 15,000 VND (ID, students card required)
  • Children under the age of 15: Free

II. Temple of Literature Tips

The Hanoi Temple of Literature is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in Vietnamese history and culture. Here are some tips to make the most out of your visit:

  1. Dress appropriately: The Temple of Literature is a place of reverence, so visitors are expected to dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders and knees. If you’re wearing shorts or a tank top, you’ll be required to cover up with a shawl or sarong.
  2. Take your time: The Temple of Literature is a large complex with many buildings and gardens to explore. Take your time to soak in the atmosphere and appreciate the architecture and history of the place.
  3. Hire a guide: Hiring a guide can enhance your experience by providing you with a deeper understanding of the significance of the various buildings and artifacts in the complex.
  4. Visit early in the day: The Temple of Literature can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Visiting early in the day will give you a better chance of enjoying the complex without the crowds.
  5. Bring water and sunscreen: Hanoi can get very hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  6. Watch out for pickpockets: Like any crowded tourist attraction, the Temple of Literature can be a target for pickpockets. Keep your valuables close and be aware of your surroundings.
  7. Respect the rules: The Temple of Literature is a place of worship and historical significance, so be sure to respect the rules and guidelines posted throughout the complex.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your visit to the Hanoi Temple of Literature.

II. 7 Things You Will be Suprised at about Temple of Literature Hanoi!

The First University in Vietnam

Temple of Literature can be considered as the first university in Vietnam. In the past, the school was only for the princes and the children of the nobility. So the reason why it was called “Quoc Tu” – “Son of the King”.

The First University in Vietnam

Printed in the Vietnamese money paper

Do you have ever pay attention to the image in the money?

Let me tell you a very interesting fact! If there is a 100.000 VND paper in your budget now, you can take it out and see carefully.


Printed in the Vietnamese money paper Temple of Literature

The image of The Pavilion of Constellation and a corner of Thien Quang well is printed on one side of the 100.000 VND paper. Very exciting, right?!

How many doctors’ names were carved in the steles

There are only 82 out of 116 turtle steles of imperial examination left due to the damage of wars and natural disasters in the Temple of Literature. However, do you know how many doctors’ names were carved in these precious steles?

This number might make you feel mild astonishment.

It is… 1307!

Names of 1307 graduates of 82 triennial royal exams were carved in the steles. Is it an impressive number? Definitely, I think.

However, the remaining 82 steles may not list all these names.

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Touching head of a turtle and the fence – WHY?

For a long time, many people believed that touching the head of a turtle in Temple of Literature before an important examination like the university entrance exam will bring luck and a good result to them. You can see the heads of turtles here are very… shiny and even gleaming!

In fact, because of human effects as well as the harsh natural condition, 82 steles are structurally damaged. It is the reason why the Scientific Activity Center of Temple of Literature had created a fence to prevent tourists from touching the turtles’ heads. Even their staff will remind visitors when their activities spoil the steles.

Therefore, if you have heard about the beliefs “touching the head of the turtle brings lucky”, just consider it as a very interesting story about the Temple of Literature. Don’t try to climb the fence and rub these shiny heads!

Behind the fence is an endless effort of the enthusiastic staff here to protect and remain 82 valuable steles – a unique work in Hanoi.

Fip hoan Kiem

The largest drums in Vietnam

There is an interesting fact that the two largest “thundering” drums (trong sam) in Vietnam now are located at the Temple of Literature and the Old Citadel Hanoi. These special drums have a unique name because when hitting up, the sound from drums like thunder, ear-splitting and resounding.

The largest drums in Vietnam Temple of Literature

The drum is 2.01 meters wide, 2.65 meters high, has a volume of 10 m3 and weighs 700 kilograms.

The special material of the drum in Temple of Literature Hanoi

I will be surprised when you know the material of the drum’s skin in the Temple of Literature. The skin is meticulously selected from 2 buffaloes from Thai Binh and Thanh Hoa. When stretching the face of the drum, it takes 5 – 7 strong men to jump at the same time to let the skin smooth.

However, do you know why Vietnamese people choose buffalo’s skin as a material of drum?

I will tell you a legend about the origin of drum, bell, and tocsin. The legend tells that once upon a time, a student helped a snake and hoped that it will require like for like. However, the snake avenged him although he gave it a hand in the past.

The student was very sad and asked other animals whether the snake was right or wrong. The buffalo and crowing fish answered that the snake reacted correctly.

The Buddha appeared and punished 3 animals by forcing snakes turned into bells, buffaloes turned into drums, crowing fish turned into tocsin. When hitting up three instruments, it seems like a remind people to remember this legend and require like for like.

Asking the old master for letters in Temple of Literature in Tet holidays

In earlier days, most working-class members were illiterate. So they often asked the old teacher to write one or two letters to hang inside the house, hoping that their children would be better educated. In the modern world, it became a cultural beauty, especially before Tet holidays, people usually visited the Temple of Literature to ask for letters simply as a sign of lucky or succeed.

When coming to the Temple of Literature in Tet holidays, you will have a chance to see the old teachers here display black ink and crimson paper. The poet Vu Dinh Lien wrote about these masters, “Their dexterous hand draws like dancing phoenix and flying dragon” (The Vietnamese teacher).

Children often ask for some words such as talent (good), mind, or virtue to wish for a successful learning career. In addition, adults usually ask for these words like lucky, peace, and success. Each word or letter will cost about 130.000 to 150.000 VND.

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5 elements in the altars of the Temple of Literature

Chinese five elements in daily life including metal (Kim), wood (Moc), water (Thuy), fire (Hoa) and earth (Tho) were regarded as the foundation for the entire physical world. When exploring the Temple of Literature, you will see all 5 elements appear in altars here through different things.

The incense-burner with ash represents for the earth, the candle represents for fire, the candlestick represents for metal, the wine represents for water, and the fresh flower or the altar base itself represents for wood.

This is a way that Vietnamese people honor five elements, or in other words, honor Mother Nature.

An ideal place for graduation photos

If you visit Temple of Literature in around October and November or May and June, you will see a large number of students are occupying the destination for graduation photos.

As a symbol of education in Hanoi, Temple of Literature is a must-visit place for students to take the most beautiful and memorable photos before graduation. They wear their university attire or their uniform, they smile happily and stand side by side, they leave a footprint – a part of youth in Temple of Literature.

Temple of Literature Hanoi An ideal place for graduation photos

It is a sentimental value to them as well as Vietnamese people and I wish that it will continue and be preserved as it is.

I hope that these interesting facts about Temple of Literature will help you to understand the culture of Hanoi in particular and of Vietnam in general.

To explore more exciting stories about the Temple of Literature, let’s pack your travel bag and see first hand this famous destination!

If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, feel free to leave a comment below. We are happy to listen to your memorable stories!

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