Xa Loi Pagoda

Xa Loi Pagoda lies in Saigon's District 3 on a plot of 2500 square metres. It is famous for its 32m-tall bell tower, the largest in Vietnam.

A large statue of Gautama Buddha dominates the shrine. Xa Loi Pagoda served as the HQ of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association until 1981. The temple's name derives from the Vietnamese translation for 'sarira' - Buddhist relics. Check out the koi pond and lovely views across the Saigon River.

This seven-tier pagoda is revered as the home of a Buddha relic and a Buddhist publishing centre. Built in 1956, the pagoda was the centre of opposition in 1963 when 400 monks and nuns were arrested for civil disobedience. Thich Quang Duc, one of the monks to protest by self-immolation, has a memorial nearby.

Click here to view a complete list of Pagodas in Ho Chi Minh 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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