Saigon's trinity of spiritual sites

By Pham Van   August 19, 2016 | 12:58 am PT
Just so you know, Obama took a look at one during his official visit. 

In Vietnam, folk religion blended with other faiths creates a spiritual sense that affects all aspects of life. In its most crowded city, Saigon, sites dedicated to the gods can be found nestled away in neighborhoods, small yet outstanding with their architecture and unique ambiance found only at the intersection of urbanization and religion.

Below are three original sites worth putting on your itinerary for a spiritual journey of Saigon.

The Temple of Lady Thien Hau

Ba ngôi chùa nổi tiếng ở Sài Gòn

Lying on Nguyen Trai Street in District 5, it's a Chinese-style temple dedicated to Thien Hau, the Lady of the Sea in traditional Chinese religion. The Chinese community in Saigon is said to have built the temple in the 19th century. Thanks to its ornate appearance hailed by many, Lady Thien Hau’s temple attracts both locals who come to pray for prosperity, luck or whatever they need in life, and tourists curious about the city’s favorite pagoda.

Ba ngôi chùa nổi tiếng ở Sài Gòn


Spiral incense hung from the ceiling is a scene that catches the eye and lens.

The Jade Emperor Temple


Built between 1892 and 1900 in honor of the supreme Taoist God (The Jade Emperor or King of Heaven, or Ngoc Hoang in Vietnamese), the temple is filled with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes depicting characters from both Buddhist and Taoist lores made from reinforced papier mâché and wood.


In 1984, the temple's name was changed to Phuoc Hai. It is known among the city’s people as the place to ask for children, and earned global fame when U.S. President Barack Obama visited in May.


Mariamman Temple


Mariamman, or Indian Lady as she is referred to by the people here, is a Hindu goddess. Her temple on Truong Dinh Street (District 1) was built in the early 20th century by Indian immigrants as a sacred place for those living on alien soil, and it is still under the care of Indian people today.


Despite being the cradle of both Hinduism and Buddhism, India’s influence is only faintly present through the latter, a religion that emigrated to Vietnam quite early on but has been localized and bears far more resemblance to characters from neighboring China, due to long domination, than from its birthplace. The Temple of Mariamman is a rarity and the most visited Hindu site in Vietnam, serving those who wish to complete their spiritual journey with something original.

Photos by Phong Vinh

Related news:

Inside the temple Obama plans to visit

U.S. Ambassador and family celebrate Ghost Festival at Hanoi pagoda

go to top