Let’s go temple-hopping! Since Vietnamese culture, like most of its Asian neighbors, have strong ties with its religion, you will observe that their architecture is greatly influenced by their belief. If you are ever welcomed by a local to their house, you will almost certainly find a corner or a room dedicated to ancestral worship and buddhism. This is why if you appreciate visiting religious structures, you can easily spend a day on a Ho Chi Minh City tour solely about temples. Check out this list of pagodas and temples where you can observe the local culture and devotion to their beliefs. All temples are open for visitors everyday, but make sure you arrive between 8 am to 5 pm only.
1. Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang) – Tortoise Pagoda
In District 1, you will find this Chinese-inspired ancient pagoda, an authentic temple where many local devotee still worship. Jade Emperor Pagoda, designed and built by a Chinese craftsman 100 years ago, features the Jade emperor Ngoc Hoang as the main deity, although other gods of Taoism and Buddhism can also be worshipped here. Expect a lot of incense scent and smoke inside.
Address: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
2. Mariamman Hindu Temple – Saigon’s Indian Temple
While most other temples in HCMC are inspired by Chinese Buddhism, this one is unique. While you are still in District 1, find your way to the Mariamman Hindu Temple. A well-maintained structure which provides insight about Indians that lived in HCMC earlier in history. Although the temple was built for the Indian goddess of rain (Mariamman), you’ll also find the Hindu god Shiva as one of the highlights. You have to remove your shoes before you can enter the sanctuary
Address: 45 Truong Dinh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
3. Xa Loi pagoda – Buddha’s Relic Temple
This temple was ironically built for Thich Quang Đức aka the burning monk, who protested against Buddhism by setting himself on fire, eventually killing himself. Although its architecture is beautiful enough to be worth your visit, its history is even more controversial. You will find the photo of this burning man inside, which is considered to be one of the most significant photos of all time. Make sure though that you visit outside lunch time (12 noon-2pm).
Address: 89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan St, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
4. Vinh Nghiem Pagoda – Saigon’s Biggest Pagoda
Witness the colossal beauty of Japanese – Vietnamese architecture by heading in to the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, featuring the white statue of Kwan-Yin, the goddess of compassion standing tall in its front facade. Built in 1971, you can observe tranquility and peace in this temple as you watch daily religious ceremonies. It opens as early as 6 AM.
Address: 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ward 7, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
5. Thien Hau Temple – Saigon’s Most Prominent Chinese Temple
Get a feel of stepping back to Ancient China as you enter Thien Hau Temple. From the incense coils and sticks, the statues and a wall full of letters to Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea. Then you will observe right away that this temple is very active with countless of locals expressing their devotions. It’s also located, and probably the most popular attraction in Cholon, Saigon’s China Town.
Address: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
6. On Lang Pagoda (Quan Âm Pagoda)
Still in the China Town district, you will find another temple dedicated Mazu, the sea goddess, as well as to other deities. On Lang Pagoda is a complex structure that hosts both Vietnamese and Chinese Buddhists. With its bright, colourful and shiny paints, its front facade is picture-perfect, if you don’t mind the vendors that are prying on locals and tourists on the entrance.
Address: 12 Lao Tu Street, Cho Lon, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
7. Giac Lam Pagoda – Oldest Temple In Saigon
A temple that showcases a unique merge between Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, Giác Lâm Pagoda is a solemn place with worship services still being conducted. You are allowed to take photographs of the monks, murals and pillars, as well as the ornate tombs and the statue of Quan Tge Âm Bồ Tát, the goddess of mercy. Follow the typical temple dress code when visiting, ie., covered shoulders and knees.
Opening Hours: 5 AM to 12 PM and 2 AM to 8 PM every day
Address: 565 Lac Long Quan Street, Ward 10, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
8. Tomb of Le Van Duyet
Probably the least crowded destination in Saigon, the Tomb of Vietnamese General Le Van Duyet proves to be one of the most peaceful and beautiful hidden gems in the city. The tomb honors the general for helping stabilize and develop Southern Vietnam during the 1800s. You’ll find an impressive park-like compound grounds and eye-catching ornates. It’s a perfect escape from the busy and crowded city.
Address: No 1 Vu Tung Street, Ward 1, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City
9. Hue Nghiem Pagoda
Further from the center of Saigon’s tourist area, this incredible pagoda built in the 18th century offers yet another Chinese-inspired architecture with beautiful landscape surrounding it. Unlike all the other temples in HCMC, photographs are not allowed within the premises of the temple.
Address: 299B Luong Dinh Cua Street, Binh Khanh Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
10. Nam Thien Nhat Tru Pagoda – The Southern One Pillar Pagoda
Patterned after Hanoi’s One Pillar Pagoda (Dien Huu Pagoda), Nam Thien Nhat Tru Pagoda is built upon a single pillar about 12 meters high, featuring Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara’s statue inside it, and the Long Nhan (Dragon Eye) Lake around it. When you are visit here, you will feel the tranquil and calm atmosphere as you set foot in this uncrowded temple.
Address: 100 Dang Van Bi Street, Binh Tho Ward, Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tips for visiting temples and pagodas on your Ho Chi Minh city tour
Although most of these temples allow tourists to come without following a dress code, it’s still better to cover up your shoulders and knees as a sign of respect. If you’re planning to do a temple and pagoda-hopping, we suggest you use a motorbike for ease of transportation; best if you have a local contact to accompany you or even drive for you.
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Street Food Man
Hello! I am Vinnie, the nephew of the Napalm girl (Phan Thi Kim Phuc). After I graduated from the University in Saigon, I have become a tour guide and taken…Learn more