Most people know of the Notre Dame Cathedral – arguably the most famous church in Ho Chi Minh City. Surprisingly, Notre Dame Cathedral is not the most ancient one in the city. In fact, Cho Quan Church is the most ancient church in Ho Chi Minh City and is located in Chinatown.
A Brief History of the Church
In the 1700s, a large number of Catholics from other provinces moved to Ho Chi Minh City, especially Cho Quan area, to settle and earn their living. Afterward, they built the Catholic house of Cho Quan in 1720. At first, the church’s architecture was simple, with only one small chapel and an altar inside. After being rebuilt for a few times from the damage caused by the Vietnam War, the latest version of the church was inaugurated on December 16th, 1896, by Vicar Nicolas Hamm and is mostly reserved until today.
Read more about Catholicism in Vietnam.
The main gate of Cho Quan Church
120 Tran Binh Trong Street, Ward 2, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
How to get there
It is about 3 kilometers from the center of the city, so that you can travel here by taxi, motorbike, or bus. You can catch bus number 01, which goes from the bus station near Ben Thanh Market to a stop near the church daily. Also, you may want to travel with a local tour guide that can help you understand more about the church.
4:30 AM – 11:00 AM
1:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Cho Quan Church’s Architecture
All of the Gothic construction gates were designed sophisticatedly with arches above. The windows are not decorated with colorfully stained glass like other churches. Step inside, there are two rows of small benches and other big benches able to host a capacity of 1,500 Catholic followers. At the end of the hall, you can see the sacred altar of Jesus sculptured with intricated patterns.
The windowpanes of Cho Quan Church
There are five bells designed on the top of the church along with the newly attached red-tiled roof, making the church even more recognizable. Two of the bells are often used on weekdays, while the two other bells are just used on important occasions, and the last one is used for funerals. On special holidays, all five bells would be rung together. Moreover, the five heavy bells of the church were made in France, so it was said that people had to move these bells to the top with the support of five elephants. All of the construction building parts and costs were donated by Catholic followers living in Ho Chi Minh City to build.
The front view of the bell tower of Cho Quan Church
The side view of the bell tower of Cho Quan Church
The total area of the church’s garden is about 16,922 square meters, and it also welcomes outside visitors. The locals often come here to do morning exercise or jog inside the park.
The garden inside Cho Quan Church
Here in the park, you can find the cave of a statue of Maria with stone benches in front of prayers.
Outside of the church, people also visit Maria’s altar to pray
The Mass Schedule of Cho Quan Church
The Catholic followers and visitors can take part in the mass of Cho Quan Church at the following time throughout the week.
Monday – Saturday: 5 AM and 5:30 PM
Sunday: 5 AM, 6:30 AM, 8 AM, 4:30 PM, and 6 PM
Cho Quan Church On Holidays
Like other churches, Cho Quan church is decorated with many colorful lights, pretty ribbons on special occasions such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. On these days, many often visit Cho Quan Church to take pictures with their friends and family.
Beautiful neon lights outside of Cho Quan Church on Christmas
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Summary of Cho Quan Church in Ho Chi Minh City
Cho Quan Church is a special attraction because it is the most ancient Catholic church in Ho Chi Minh City. Considered as an alternative place of the visit compared to the Notre Dame Cathedral and Tan Dinh Church, it is a quiet and peaceful local church. If you pass by Chinatown and come across Cho Quan Church, do come inside to have a look.
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