Giac Lam pagoda was built in 1744, making it one of the oldest pagodas in the city. However, it has undergone a couple significant renovations, keeping the look of the temple in sync with modern times. The stupa set amidst garden-like grounds is seven stories tall, so if you manage to climb all the way up, you will be rewarded with nice views of the bustle of the city, since the pagoda is located in an urban location. For the sick and elderly, this climb is a minor pilgrimage, as they believe that if they ring the bronze bell found at the top, their prayers will be answered.
The bodhi tree in the front garden was a from a Sri Lankan monk in 1953.
565 Lạc Long Quân, Phường 10, Tân Bình, Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam, +84 28 3865 3933
Thien Hau Pagoda is located smack bang in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City’s own Chinatown, or Cho Lon as the locals call it. This pagoda is a Chinese-style temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Thien Hau, or Lady of the Sea. It’s rather old — having been originally constructed by Chinese immigrants from Guangzhou in 1760. However, it has undergone regular restorations since it is regularly used by the locals.
The pagoda has many valuable antiques, including a set of incense burners that were made in 1886. The smell of incense will help you make your way through the interior, which is a partially covered courtyard. As you walk around, pay attention to the intricate details of the structures. The roof is decorated with small and delicate porcelain figures depicting scenes related to Chinese legends and religions. These were produced by ceramic kilns in China in 1908.
Another Cantonese pagoda in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is arguably the most famous one in Vietnam, made even more famous in the news after former American President Barrack Obama visited the site during his state visit to Vietnam in May of 2016.
Inside, the calming smell of incense follows you as you make your way through the maze of rooms in the Jade Emperor Pagoda, each with its own array of intricate woodworks and statues, depicting scenes from Taoist and Buddhist myths. Staying true to its name, the temple is decorated with green ceramic tiles in every corner. Take a guide with you or else you may miss half of what the pagoda has to offer and not understand its significance.
Buu Long temple, located in District 9, is one of the most beautiful temples in Ho Chi Minh City, mixing architectural styles of India, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and of course, Vietnam. It was built in 1942, on a hill near the Dong Nai River. Not only is the temple architecturally very beautiful and intricate, decorated in gorgeous gold, but there is a fountain and a semi-circle lake in front of the pagoda, perfect for pictures. There are striking differences between Buu Long temple and others found in Ho Chi Minh City. One is that the use of incense and candles is not allowed within the premises. Another – only Buddha is worshiped in this temple, whereas other pagodas serve many deities.
This pagoda remains relatively lesser known and sees only a few visitors daily. Make sure you dress respectfully when you visit – an important notice when you visit any of the temples mentioned above.
81 Nguyễn Xiển, Long Bình, Quận 9, Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam, +84 96 196 62 74