temples IN SAIGON

Ho Chi Minh City certainly is a city of temples. They come in all shapes and sizes, and of course many denominations. The wonderful thing about Vietnam in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular is the way in which religious buildings are just treated as any other. Some have managed to get extremely significant plots of land (the Catholic church wins here) whilst others pop up anywhere. Take a trip down the myriad of small hems (side streets) or alleyways and you are just as likely to find a temple as a corner shop.

Whilst the majority of the temples in the city are Buddhist, there are so many others as well. Jewish synagogues, Catholic churches, Hindu temples, Taoist places of worship and even the somewhat bizarre Holy See Temple of the Cao Dai sect, a hybrid of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. The Holy See is actually in Tay Ninh about two hours to the northwest of Ho Chi Minh City but it is well worth a trip out. It is an extremely ornate twin towered building that dates back to 1926. The religion has some unusual tenets, including the worship of Joan of Arc, Lenin and Shakespeare!

Opposite the Museum of Vietnamese History you will find the Temple of the Hung Kings. This is a confucian temple dedicated to the memory of the Hung Kings, the first rulers of the country. In Cholon, the city’s Chinatown, there are numerous temples. It is worth asking a local cycle driver to take you round them, but be sure and negotiate a price first.

Close to Ben Thanh Market you can see the beautiful Hindu Mariamman Temple. This is a perfect example of a temple simply being squeezed into a pace in a small street in the city centre. people drive past this every day without giving it a second glance. The whole building is covered with ornate carvings and figurines.

As with all religious buildings in Asia, please show respect when visiting. Dress modestly, covering legs and shoulders and speak quietly.

temples IN SAIGON