Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
Located in District 3, Ho Chi Minh city, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda (Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm) is one of the most Vietnam’s popular destination for locals and foreign visitors. The pagoda is famous for its modern style but traditional structure.
Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Modern style, traditional structure
Thanks to being a quite recent monument, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda inherits both a modern touch of Japanese architectural style and inspiration from traditional Vietnamese structure, which makes its beauty strong, stable and also majestic. It was the first pagoda in Vietnam with Vietnamese traditional architectural style but built with concrete. As a result, the pagoda is the symbol for the peaceful combination of modern and ancient elements.
It’s home to a vast sanctuary where followers pay their respects, make offerings and pray for blessings every month and a seven-floor, 40m high tower called Kwan-Yin, which was built with the assistance of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association. This structure is the biggest one among Vietnam Buddhist Association, where people come to pay homage to Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha himself, and Samantabhadra, the Lord of Truth and Manjusri.
Although the place is big, the best reason to visit Vinh Nghiem is to witness one of the many celebrations the temple hosts. The large area becomes packed with people on important days, and you can follow the crowd to partake in the activities. The large bowls of incense grow into large glowing red piles of smoldering ash, the main hall fills with people praying to Buddha, and the street outside the gate turns into a mini market with vendors selling bushels of incense sticks.
My favorite part of these activities is waiting in the long line that forms to wait to ring the pagoda’s large bell. The line snakes all around the front of the main hall, so expect to wait several minutes, but when you finally get to the end you can swing the large piece of wood, which is tied to the top by rope, and ring that bell yourself. It’s a good-sized bell too, about two meters tall, and it rings rather well. So well that I’m glad I do not live next door because this goes on all night.
If you want to come to a pagoda where there is something going on, one of Vietnam Popular Destinations like this pagoda is one your great choice. There are many events are held according to the lunar calendar; the best nights are the 1st, 5th, and 15th of each lunar month and any Buddhist holiday, especially Lunar New Year. Make sure to leave time to visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda when sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City. I think you probably like this place too much and then understand more about Buddha as well as Vietnam’s culture.
When to visit
Special occasions like Lunar New Year or 15th of each month are when the pagoda most crowded with people visiting to pray for luck, happiness and safe to themselves and their families. Also, tourists coming at these times may observe traditional activities of Buddhist such as giving away lucky-money as good buds for the start of a new year. However, for visitors who want to enjoy inner peace of a Buddhist pagoda, try to stay away from these occasions, normal days are better and more peaceful. Those who are fond of vegetarian foods can spot at a vegetarian restaurant named “Viet Chay”, which is tucked within the pagoda’s area.
How to get there
Getting here is quite easy and convenient as this attraction is so famous amongst local people. Taxi or motorbike is recommended.