The largest Mahayana pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, a center for Buddhist beliefs and practices, and one of the city's most beautiful tourist attractions, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is a must see when visiting Ho Chi Minh City.
“Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm” (literally “Ever Solemn”) was built over a span of seven years, from 1964 to 1971. The complex, an area of around 6,000 square meters, comprises of the pagoda itself, as well as a 25 meter tall four-story tower that stands behind the pagoda, which was finished in 1982. The pagoda has two floors - a sanctuary on the top floor and a ground floor usually open to visitors. There is also a building with classrooms and housing for the temple’s monks and nuns. If you’re lucky you may get to speak to a few since many like to take advantage of visitors to practice their English.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is not only a top tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, it is also central to the city’s continuing tradition of dedicated Buddhist beliefs and practices. Locals visit the pagoda to pay homage to Buddha, and also to Siddhartha Gautama and Samantabhadra.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda fuses Japanese influence with traditional Vietnamese architecture. Based largely on the design of its namesake, the 11th Century Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang Province, the complex was built with the assistance of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association. As such, the finished array of temples and statues are somewhat reminiscent of Buddhist architecture in Japan. A large, Japanese-style Buddha statue stands flanked by two goddesses and wooden carvings of the four sacred animals in Buddhism - the unicorn, dragon, tortoise and phoenix.
The Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is open to visitors and worshippers all year round, but depending on what aspect of the temple you wish to see, you should visit at certain times. For the quiet and peace of everyday worship, visit in the morning and avoid big celebrations and festivals. To experience the pagoda with many people, each person visiting to pray for luck, happiness, safety and other blessings, the best time to visit is during the Lunar New Year or on the 15th of every month.
It’s easy to get to Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, since the complex is tucked close to the center. Hop on a xe ôm and ride the hectic streets or take a long wander (at least 45 minutes - it’s 3.6 kilometers from Phạm Ngũ Lão street).
If you are up for the walk, head to the corner of Lê Lợi and Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa and continue straight up Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa from there. Make a stop at The Independence Palace, or walk across the park to Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Central Post Office. The War Remnants Museum is also close by, so a walk to the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is an excellent way to combine Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular and fascinating tourist attractions into one, exciting self-made tour.
Inside the complex there is a restaurant which we would definitely recommend for lunch. Nhà Hàng Việt Chay is a Vietnamese eatery, serving delicious vegetarian food. Admission to the temple is free, and the whole complex is well worth a visit.