Have you ever heard about Thien Hau Pagoda, one of the most ancient and fascinating temples in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City? If you're a fan of exploration and passionate about Chinese culture, join BDATrip to learn more about this temple in the following article!
Located at 710 Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Thien Hau Pagoda is a famous spiritual destination among the Chinese community in the Cho Lon area. The distance from the city center to the pagoda is about 6km, easily accessible by various means of transportation such as buses, motorcycles, taxis, or Grab. The pagoda is open from 5 AM to 5 PM and does not charge an entrance fee. When visiting, tourists should dress modestly and behave respectfully, while also respecting the customs of the Chinese community, including not being noisy, not touching worship items, and asking for permission before taking photos.
The Holy Mother Thien Hau, often referred to as Ba Linh Son or Ba Chua Xu, is a highly revered deity in Chinese culture. She was born in Fujian Province, China, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Thien Hau is known for her extraordinary abilities such as magic and prophecy, aiding those in distress at sea. Not only blessed with supernatural powers, she was also renowned for her kindness, frequently helping the poor and sick. Although she died at the age of 27, she is worshipped as a saint, and the Chinese believe she continues to protect them, especially those working at sea or those who have migrated across oceans.
Thien Hau Pagoda was established in 1760 by the Chinese community from Fujian. They aimed to create a sacred space to honor Thien Hau and pray for peace and tranquility. The pagoda, covering 1500 square meters, is located near the bustling Cho Lon market area, where many Chinese live and do business. Having undergone various phases of restoration and expansion, especially in the years 1800, 1842, 1882, 1890, and 1916, the pagoda has witnessed many historical events. Notably, it was destroyed during Nguyen Hue's uprising in 1783, occupied by the French in 1861, and bombed during the Vietnam War in 1968. Despite these challenges, the pagoda has been restored and preserved to this day, becoming an important historical and cultural relic of Ho Chi Minh City.
The front hall is the main area to welcome visitors from all over and is also where the Buddha of Wealth and Prosperity is worshipped. The hall also has an altar for the God of Wealth, believed to bring fortune and luck. The roof of the front hall is decorated with two dragons coiling around a sphere, symbolizing strength and nobility. In front of the hall is a small pond with a pair of koi fish, representing wisdom and patience.
The central hall is a solemn area dedicated to worshiping Thien Hau and two guardian deities, Thuy Long and Thanh Long. Here, a unique artwork stands out: a large painting depicting Thien Hau saving a ship in a storm. The painting, carved in wood and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, is a testament to exquisite and graceful art. On the roof of the central hall, two phoenix statues symbolize harmony and joy.
The rear hall, also known as the main hall, is a sacred space reserved for worshipping deities such as Guan Gong, Guan Yin, Earth Store Bodhisattva, the Three Saints, the Five Blessings, the Eight Immortals, and the Eighteen Arhats. Another impressive mother-of-pearl painting here depicts Thien Hau ascending to heaven, a work of art both beautiful and sacred. The peak of the rear hall is adorned with two unicorn statues, symbols of prosperity and peace.
Thien Hau Pagoda is a repository of many valuable artifacts, including ancient lanterns, artistic wood statues, exquisite lacquer paintings, unique porcelain vases, calligraphy works, and ancient books. Each artifact here not only showcases high artistic value but also preserves the unique historical and cultural stories of the Chinese community in Saigon.
With its ancient beauty, Thien Hau Pagoda is an ideal destination for photography enthusiasts seeking a vintage style. Attractive angles for photography include the vibrant pagoda gate adorned with red lanterns, the serene garden with lush bonsai works, the striking pagoda roof with red tiles and graceful dragon imagery, the detailed and refined mother-of-pearl painting, and the Thien Hau altar decorated with flowers, incense, and lights. Each photo taken here is not just a work of art but also a deep reflection of Chinese culture.
The pagoda is not only a religious site for worship but also a sacred place for prayers and fortune-telling for those seeking luck and guidance. Visitors can pray for peace, happiness, fortune, and success in life under the watchful eyes of Thien Hau. Additionally, one can obtain a sacred talisman, written in Chinese, to carry or hang at home as a protective amulet. This talisman is believed to ward off evil spirits, diseases, disasters, and transform misfortune into good fortune, ensuring family safety.
Visiting Thien Hau Pagoda, one must not miss the "Via Ba" festival - the largest event in Saigon, held annually on the 23rd day of the first lunar month. This event commemorates the ascension of Thien Hau and is a time when the Chinese express their special reverence for her. The pagoda becomes bustling with thousands of pilgrims coming to offer incense and pray. The festival is lively with activities such as palanquin parades, river lantern releases, releasing carp, artistic performances, and enjoying street food. This is a great opportunity to witness and participate in the unique and rich cultural customs of the Chinese community in Saigon.
If you are interested in vegetarian cuisine or want to explore unique Chinese vegetarian dishes, here are some vegetarian restaurants worth trying:
- Hoa Thien Restaurant: Serving a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes such as vegetarian pancakes, vegetarian steamed buns, vegetarian beef noodles, vegetarian chicken rice, and vegetarian broken rice, with prices ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 VND per portion. Address: 118/2 Tran Binh Trong, Ward 2, District 5, about 1 km from the pagoda.
- Hue Bao Vegetarian Restaurant: Located in District 5, the restaurant offers a diverse menu combining traditional and modern vegetarian dishes. You can enjoy vegetarian pho, vegetarian noodle soup, vegetarian crab soup, vegetarian noodle soup, vegetarian bread, vegetarian rolled cakes, etc., with prices ranging from 15,000 to 40,000 VND per portion. Address: 65 Nguyen Trai, Ward 3, District 5, about 500 meters from the pagoda.
- Minh Anh Vegetarian Shop: A cozy and friendly shop in District 5 serving many delicious vegetarian dishes like vegetarian fried rice, vegetarian stir-fried noodles, vegetarian grilled meat noodles, vegetarian mixed rice paper, vegetarian sweet soup, etc., at affordable prices from 10,000 to 30,000 VND per portion. Address: 14/7 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1, about 1.5 km from the pagoda.
If you are looking for accommodation near Thien Hau Pagoda, here are some hotel and homestay options:
- The Common Room Project: A modernly designed dormitory-style homestay with a bright and comfortable space. The homestay provides full amenities such as Wi-Fi, air conditioning, washing machine, shared living room, terrace, and shared kitchen. Bed rental prices range from 150,000 to 250,000 VND per bed. Address: 80/8 Nguyen Trai, Ward 3, District 5, about 500 meters from the pagoda.
- B Homestay: An apartment-style homestay offering a cozy, elegant, and visually appealing space. Amenities include Wi-Fi, air conditioning, TV, refrigerator, kitchen, and private bathroom, ensuring convenience for guests. Room rates range from 300,000 to 500,000 VND per room. Address: 8/7 Nguyen Trai, Ward 3, District 5, also about 500 meters from the pagoda.
When visiting Ho Chi Minh City, don't miss the opportunity to explore Thien Hau Pagoda - a unique cultural icon. Come to this temple to experience the diversity and distinctiveness of Saigon.
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