The temples and pagodas of Ho Chi Minh City are not just a beautiful sight for tourists to visit and religious centers where Buddhists and Taoists practice their beliefs. They are also at the heart of Vietnamese culture and charity, organizing interesting events for everybody to attend. Important relics are kept in pagodas as the center of worship, and they also serve as publishing houses to promote Buddhist literature to the people.

The beliefs are expressed with stunning beauty and a great sense of aesthetic. Statues, writings, intricate carvings and colorful mosaics create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, intensified by the omnipresent scent of aromatic incense. Some temples and pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City hold special ceremonies at certain times, so if you would like to attend or witness a Buddhist ceremony, check out the individual descriptions of the pagodas below.

Most pagodas in Vietnam are built following the Chinese tradition, contrary to Cambodia for example, where the wats and temples are modeled after the ones of Southern Thailand. The pagodas we listed below are definitely worth being included in your tours, because they show inspiring beauty, and offer invaluable insights into Vietnamese culture and history.

The best time to visit the temples and pagodas in Saigon is early morning. It’s less crowded and cooler, and you might spot the monks beginning their day with prayers and morning chores.

What is the difference between temple and pagoda?

Although we often use the terms interchangeably, the word temple is used for every building of worship, such as the Taoist, Buddhist or Hinduist temples in Vietnam. A pagoda however, is exclusively reserved for Buddhist practices.

How should I dress when visiting ?

When visiting a temple or pagoda during your travel in Vietnam, it’s important to dress properly. Avoid shorts (they should be long enough to cover your knees at least). Do not wear tank tops and other revealing pieces of clothing. You cannot show your belly button for instance. Do not wear hats or anything covering your head. Regarding the shoes, it depends the places but you are generally asked to take them out in pagodas.

While disobeying this is unlikely to lead to trouble, showing a measure of respect to the people’s culture and beliefs is generally a good idea. Also keep in mind when taking pictures and using a flash in a temple, not to disturb the prayers of other visitors.

Other rules to be aware of:

It is forbidden to point the finger at a Buddha statue and it is also recommended to not turn your back at them. Please consider it during your visit.

For more travel tips, you can also read the review of Fabrice, our travel writer: Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City and our guide of the top 12 most beautiful pagodas in Vietnam.

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