Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda

Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda is located in Saigon's Chinatown. Built between 1939 and 1942 by Cantonese immigrants, this is one of the few Taoist pagodas in Vietnam.

It is unique for its colourful statues of Taoist disciples. The main altar features a Yin and Yang symbol. Upstairs is a 150cm high statue of Chinese philosopher Lao Tse with a halo that makes creative use of a mirror and fluorescent lighting.

Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda is known for its philanthropy that includes a care home for the aged and a medical clinic that offers acupuncture and herbal medicine for free. The temple is located on a small street near busy Lo Sieu in the Cho Lon area of Ho Chi Minh City. The number of true Taoists in Saigon is estimated at around 4500.

Do you need more travel advice during your stay in Saigon? You can read our list of attractions in Ho Chi Minh City or our list of the best activities in the city.

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Photo Story: Pagoda Charm

Vietnam is famous for its religious diversity, which includes Caodaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism. If there is one religion that stands out from the rest, however, it’s Buddhism – and the pagodas have a lot to do with it.

It’d be impossible to completely understand Vietnamese culture without visiting these spiritual spots and getting a closer look at Vietnamese Buddhism’s deeply-ingrained spiritual traditions. The smell of incense lingers in the air, the dark colours creates a mysterious ambience and the numerous historical figures encapsulated in the intricately carved wall friezes make pagodas a truly special place to worship.

While temples (‘Đền) are used to worship emperors or national heroes, pagodas (Chùa) are exclusively reserved for worshiping Buddha. Throughout Vietnam, visitors will find hundreds of pagodas reflecting the historical Chinese influence through their ornamentation and architectural design (three entrance gates, bell tower, garden courtyards with bonsais, etc.).

We headed out to District 11 to visit two pagodas (Chùa Phụng Sơn and Chùa Khánh Vân Nam Viện) that have remained untouched over the years, showcasing both authenticity and tradition in equal shares.

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