Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) has many religions including Caodaism, Buddism, Christianism, Islam, Fascism, and Confucianism. It is true that there are hundreds of big and small pagodas and temples in the hustle and bustle city. Admiring beautiful architecture works, some of which last hundreds of years and calming yourself at the religious sites are worth doing in Saigon. The followings are the 7 most specular pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City.
1. Ngoc Hoang Pagoda – The ancient pagoda built after Chinese pagoda’s style
Location: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the pagoda on Google Maps. Jade Emperor Pagoda is nearly 4 km North of Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours: 7:00 – 18:00; On 1st and 15th days of the lunar month: 5:00 – 19:00.
Year of establishment: around 1900; Founder: Luu Minh – a Chinese person who followed Minh Huong Religion – a mix of Taosim, Buddhism and Confucianism; Land area: 2,300 m2.
Jade Emperor Pagoda (or Ngoc Hoang Pagoda, Phuoc Hai Pagoda) is painted pink and decorated with lots of ceramic figurines and decorations. The pagoda houses about 300 ancient statues made of wood and paper, not less than 100 carved wooden panels and antithetical couplets in Chinese.
Jade Emperor Pagoda is comprised of Front Hall, Middle Hall, Main Hall (Jade Emperor Hall) in the middle chamber, Jin Hua Hall and Cheng Huan Hall in the left chamber, bedrooms and Lady Buddha Hall in the right chamber. In the halls are worshiped Taoist deities including Jade Emperor, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas such as Medicine Buddha and Guanyin, creatures in Vietnamese folk religion including Jin Hua, Twelve Midwives.
During the year, especially in the lunar first month, Ngoc Hoang Pagoda attracts a large number of people to pray for childbirth, love, wealth and health by offering the deities incenses and candles and by clawing Horse General and ringing the bell around its neck and pouring kerosene over kerosene lamps. The USA President Obama visited Jade Emperor Pagoda on 25th May 2016 at 16:30.
Read more about Ngoc Hoang Pagoda
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2. Xa Loi pagoda – The pagoda having the second highest bell tower in Vietnam
Location: 89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Street, Ward 7, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the pagoda on Google Maps. It is only 2.5 km from Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours of Main Hall: Moring: 7:00 – 11:00 | Afternoon: 14:00 – 17:00 | Evening: 18:00 – 19:00 | On special occasions: 7:00 – 21:00.
Year of establishment: 1961; Land area: 2,500 m2.
Inaugurated in 1961, Xa Loi Pagoda is famous for not only the beautiful architecture and landscape but also its important role in the protest against the reign of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. The pagoda is Saigon’s first pagoda having Main Hall in a multistory building. It is a perfect mix of modern and ancient architecture. Xa Loi Pagoda is comprised of a green garden with Guanyin statues, Mai Tho Truyen statue, a seven-story bell tower, library, Main Hall, Chanh Tri Buddhist Lecture Hall.
Its 32-meter high seven-story bell tower is the second highest pagodas’ bell towers in Vietnam. The bell hung on the highest floor of the tower is 2 tons heavy and propagates very far. The pagoda was built to worship relics of Buddha, presented by Narada Maha Thera in 1953. So that it is called Chùa Xá Lợi, literally meaning Buddha’s relics Pagoda. Besides the Buddha’s relics in a Bodhi-shaped stupa in the Main Hall, Xa Loi Pagoda houses the over the precious 1,000-year-old prayer book in Pali language and a horizontal carved wood panel with four Chinese characters written by Empress Dowager Cixi.
At Xa Loi Pagoda, Buddhist monks open calligraphy classes every week, preach in Chanh Tri Buddhist Lecture Hall and hold lots of Buddhist celebrations and festivals. The library has about 7,000 Buddhist, literature, culture books and many others, served to not only Buddhist monks, Buddhists but also students.
Read more about history, architecture, hidden stories, interior and exterior decoration and see lots of nice photos of Xa Loi Pagoda.
3. Vinh Nghiem Pagoda – with the highest stone tower in Viet Nam
Location: 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ward 14, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the pagoda on Google Maps. The pagoda is located less 4 km from Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours: Main gate: 7:00 – 19:00; Main hall: 7:00 – 11:00; 13:30 – 16:45 daily.
Year of establishment: 1971; Founder: two Superior Buddhist Monks Thich Tam Giac and Thich Thanh Kiem; Land area: 2,500 m2.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is one of the biggest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City a Vietnam’s typical pagoda in the 20th century. The pagoda was inspired by Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang Province, North Vietnam during Ly Dynasty. The highlights of this pagoda include Vietnam’s biggest and most beautiful stone tower, which has 7 floors, a total height of 14 m and carved with nice dragon, phoenix, Chinese character patterns. The pagoda also includes three-arched-entrances gate, Guanyin tower, main building consisting of Main Hall, Public Relic Tower having curving roofs and traditional Vietnamese decorations.
The main building has a L shape, the ground floor has many rooms functioning as ancestral house, office, monk room, classroom, lecture hall, vegetarian restaurant. The spacious Main Hall is situated on the first floor, faces the main gate and consists of Bow Hall (Front Hall), Buu Hall (Main Hall) and Ksitigarbha Hall (Back Hall), forming the character – 工 (Công). In these halls, Cundi, Gautama Buddha, Bodhisattva Manjushri, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, Kuan-Yin of a Thousand Arms and Eyes, Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc, Hung King, the former President of Vietnam Tran Dai Quang, Nguyen Cao Ky – Vice President Public of Vietnam are worshiped.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is one of the most popular places to go at Buddhist festivals and celebrations in Ho Chi Minh City thanks to the spacious yard and colorful flags, lanterns and lights.
Read more about history, architecture, hidden stories, interior and exterior decoration and see lots of nice photos of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.
4. Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda
Location: 244 Ba Thang Hai Street, Ward 12, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. It is situated at the corner of Le Hong Phong and Ba Thang Hai Streets. CLICK HERE to see the location of the pagoda on Google Maps. Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda is 3.5 km from Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours of Main Hall: 7:30 – 11:00; 15:00 – 19:30 daily | On special days including 1st, 14th, 15th, 29th, 30th of each month in the lunar calendar: 7:00 – 11:30; 13:30 – 22:00.
Year of establishment: 1964; Land area: 11,000 m2.
The land area of Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda or Vietnamese National Pagoda has been changed and the pagoda has been restored and upgraded for many times. It is one of the most spacious and beautiful pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. In recent, the pagoda is comprised of a 13-story stupa built to memorize the protest against Ngo Dinh Diem’s policy suppressing Buddhism in 1963 and the main building cost more than 200 billion VND. The highlights of this pagoda include not only the 13-story stupa with a height of 63 m and a 6-ton bronze stupa on its top but also the splendid Main Hall with the biggest bronze statue of Buddha in Vietnam with a height of 7.5 m and a weight of 35 tons.
Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda is the headquarters of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam. Important events of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam usually take place at this pagoda. Celebrations and festivals are usually held solemnly and attract a large number of people, including foreigners. Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc’s relics, including bones and unburnt heart and the set of Phap Hoa prayer books attaching his secret journey, are worshiped at Vietnamese National Pagoda.
Read more about history, architecture, hidden stories, interior and exterior decoration and see lots of nice photos of Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda.
5. Giac Lam Pagoda – The oldest pagoda in Saigon
Address: 118 Lac Long Quan, Ward 10, Tan Binh District, Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the temple on Google Maps. Mariamman Hindu Temple is 7.5 km West of Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours: Main gate: 5:00 – 20:30; Main hall: 5:00 – 12:00; 13:30 – 20:30.
Year of establishment: 1744; Founder: Ly Thuy Long – a Minh Huong person immigrated from China.
Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the oldest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh city. The pagoda is famous for not only the unique architecture of the seven-story stupa where Buddha’s relics are worship and the main building but also many precious documents, cultural and Buddhist artworks.
The impressive architecture of the main building is an example of pagodas’ architecture in South Vietnam. The main buildings include Main Hall, Lecture Hall, Dining Hall (Ong Giam House) forming 三 Chinese character and called Three Jewels. Visitors should not miss seeing 98 pillars and 113 ancient statues made of different materials, a large number of “bao lam” – Vietnamese decoration between two pillars inside the pagoda.
The walls, Main Hall, roofs, arches are decorated with 7,454 ceramic plates made in Lai Thieu District, Binh Duong Province. Giac Lam Pagoda is recognized as the largest number of ceramic plates by the Vietnam Book of Records. Furthermore, the three graveyards have dozens of stupas in Khmer, Vietnamese, Cham style.
This ancient pagoda is one of the most sacred sites and the best places to pray for wealth, health and many others in the city.
Read more about history, architecture, hidden stories, interior and exterior decoration and see lots of nice photos of Giac Lam Pagoda.
6. Ba An Pagoda or Mariamman Hindu Temple – one of the most sacred pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City
Location: 45 Truong Dinh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the temple on Google Maps. Mariamman Hindu Temple is only 140 m West of Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours: 7:00 – 12:00; 13:00 – 19:00; On Friday, 1st and 15th days of the lunar month: 7:00 – 19:00; Time of sacrifice: 10:00.
Year of establishment: 1885; Founder: Indian people in Saigon;
Mariamman Hindu Temple was built by Indian people, decorated with decors made in India and has a design inspired by ancient Indian temples. The multi-story stupa above the main entrance eye-catch passengers and visitors thanks to the figurines of dancing girls, animals and deities. In the temple is worshiped Mariamman – the Goddess of sickness and crops and her two assistants Pechiamman and Maduraiveeran. Highlights of the pagoda include 18 statues of deities in different positions on the walls, statues of Ganesha, Vishnu, Brahman, Linga – Yoni and Mount Meru in the back outer hall.
Many Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian visitors and others usually offer candles, joss stickers, cooking oil, rice, sticky rice, salt, sugar, instant noodles, face the wall and pray for prosperity, success, health, especially love and childbirth.
Read more about history, architecture, hidden stories, interior and exterior decoration and see lots of nice photos of Mariamman Hindu Temple
7. An Quang Pagoda – headquarters of Ho Chi Minh City Buddhist Sangha
Location: 243 Su Van Hanh Street, Ward 9, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the pagoda on Google Maps. An Quang Pagoda is about 4 km from Ben Thanh Market.
Opening hours: 5:00 – 12:00; 13:30 – 20:30.
Year of establishment: 1948; Land area: 500 m2.
The design of An Quang Pagoda, also known as An Quang Ancestral Temple was inspired by Tu Dam Pagoda in Hue, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese and Japanese architectures. The pagoda has the 7-story Stupa, Thien Hoa Lecture Hall, Cultural Store, Reception Room, Guanyin Stupa, Main Hall, Ancestral House, Monks’ rooms, printing room, publishing room, incense factory, etc. In the Main Hall is simply worshiped Gautama Buddha and decorated with relieves about Buddha’s life. Two statues of Dharmapala, the wooden statue of Bodhidharma and lacquer paintings depicting Guanyin, Bodhisattva Manjushri, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra are also highlights of the Main Hall. The pagoda is the headquarters of Ho Chi Minh City Buddhist Sangha and a site of the Institute for Dharma Propagation.
Read more about history, architecture, hidden stories, interior and exterior decoration and see lots of nice photos of An Quang Pagoda.
Ho Chi Minh City is well-known as the biggest city and a cultural, economic and political center in Vietnam. More and more developing the city is, more and more modern buildings grow up. It is not easy to find green and peaceful spaces in the crowded and noisy city. The Top specular pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City are good places to not only escape the hustle and bustle city but also pray for something.