Thien Hau Pagoda

Thien Hau Pagoda is an early 19th-century Chinese style temple, dedicated to Thien Hau, the Lady of the Sea (“Tian Hou” as transcribed from the Chinese) and always attracts a mix of worshippers and visitors. It is believed that Thien Hau can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to save people in trouble on the high seas.

The temple is located right on busy Nguyen Trai Street in the Chinatown, District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It can be accessed by entering through an iron gate and crossing a small courtyard. The roof is decorated with small delicately fashioned porcelain figurines expressing themes from Chinese religion and legends. Lanterns and wooden models of Chinese theaters hang over the entrance.

The interior of the temple is actually a partially covered courtyard, at the end of which is the altar to Thiên Hậu. The altar to Thiên Hậu is dominated by the three statues of the goddess. The faces are bronze in color, and the clothes and crowns are multi-colored. Incense burners are all about.

Thien Hau Pagoda is one of the most active temples in Cho Lon and has an otherworldly atmosphere owing to the smoking rings of swirling incense and majestic interior furnishings. It is one of the most favourite tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

Ong Pagoda

Built in the 19th century by HCMC’s Chinese congregation, Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda (Ong Pagoda) is dedicated to Quan Cong, a deified general who lived during the Han Dynasty.

Hidden behind a sinister-looking gate, it is noteworthy for its gilded woodwork: a carved wooden boat hangs over the entrance and to the left is a large representation of Quan Cong’s horse and groom. At the ornate altar, greet Quan Cong himself, to whom the temple is dedicated. 

Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda is one of the oldest temples in Saigon. On the 14th day of the first lunar month, this pagoda celebrates with offerings to the spirits and dances staged out front.

Cho Lon Jamial Mosque

The Cholon Mosque is found in the Chinatown – Cholon – of Ho Chi Minh City, is an austere. The clean lines and lack of ornamentation of the Cholon Jamial Mosque contrast starkly with nearby Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist pagodas. In the courtyard is a pool for ritual ablutions. Note the tiled niche in the wall (mihrab) indicating the direction of prayer, which is towards Mecca.

Cholon Mosque was built in 1932, initially to serve Muslims from Southern India who migrated to the area, and is one of four mosques serving Muslims in central Saigon. But since 1975 it has served the Malaysian and Indonesian Muslim communities in Vietnam.

Visiting the mosque might be best timed around lunch or dinner, as a tasty halal restaurant is located on the grounds. While a small proportion of the population, Vietnam’s Muslims are among the oldest inhabitants of the county and a visit to their culture should be part of any trip to Vietnam.