Address: 1055/3D Quoc lo 1A, An Phu Dong Ward, District 12
Opening hours: 5 AM – 12 PM, 1:30 PM – 8:30 PM (or open until 10 PM on repentance night and big Buddhist occasions)
Notes for visitors:
The general rules when going to any temples or pagodas in Vietnam are to:
- dress moderately
- put your shoes outside of the halls
- no smoking
- don’t make loud noises or talk too loud
There is a parking lot for motorbikes and cars in the monastery’s yard. It is free, but there is a wooden box near the front gate and the driveway to donate if you want.
The gate of Khanh An Monastery
“Please leave your shoes outside” reminder
The parking lot
How to Get to Khanh An Monastery
Khanh An Monastery is located in a big alley on a highway about 15 km north of Ho Chi Minh City’s center, so the most convenient way here is by taxi (VND 160,000 – VND 200,000, approximately 30 minutes – 1 hour). From the highway, go into the alley through a local market, and you will see Khanh An Monastery on your left.
Motorbike is not recommended for safety reasons, and there aren’t many bus routes to Khanh An directly from the city center.
The big sign on the highway
How Khanh An Monastery Was Built
At first, Khanh An Monastery was only a small temple established by Tri Hien Abbot in 1905. During this time, the monastery and its neighborhood (An Loc Dong and Hanh Phu villages – later known as An Phu Dong Village/Ward since 1947), where the patriots gathered, were under many fire attacks by the French army. The temple got heavily damaged with a downgrade structure, leaking walls, and flooded halls.
It was not until 2006 that the temple underwent a complete renovation in 10 years’ time to revive into the new and noble Khanh An Monastery. The renovation was taken on the previous place, including the small temple and 6 hectares of contributed land. The financial support for this renovation was from the locals’ fundraising started by Thich Tri Chon Abbot. It is now one of the famous temples and pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City for its unique architecture.
The New Architecture of Khanh An Monastery
Khanh An Monastery now has its main hall, ancestor hall, meditation hall, preaching hall, and community hall. Opened partly since 2016, many areas in the monastery are still under construction in 2018, but the halls for the Three Jewels in Buddhism, which are Buddha (main hall), Dharma (meditation hall), and Sangha (community hall), have been completed.
A scale model of Khanh An Monastery’s plan
The main hall for chanting (“Phat Duong Tinh Thuc, at the top level) and the meditation hall (“Phap Duong Chanh Niem”, at the lower level) are constructed in one building of two levels. This building is the biggest construction in Khanh An Monastery. The steps and handrails are made of stone with sophisticated sculptures of lotus, a sacred symbol of Buddhism. The doors, windows, floors, and most of the interiors are made of wood with golden plated patterns.
A monastery’s door (“triple gate”) in front of the main hall
The stairs to the main hall
The lotus sculpture on handrails
Outside of the main hall
Inside of the main hall
Shelves of Buddhist books
Wisdom box to donate books
An altar in the meditation hall
The bell tower
A lotus pond on the rooftop
The community hall (Khach Duong Thanh Thoi) is built opposite the main hall and meditation hall across the yard. This was a private area and limited to visitors. It is also the construction that made Khanh An Monastery’s name appear on many local papers and given the title “the Japanese temple in Ho Chi Minh City”. The roofs are curved at the end, wooden doors, posts, and walls are painted with two colors: red and white, and the decoration sculptures are tinted golden color.
A stupas near community hall
The high golden and pointed top with few dragon or phoenix sculpture, which is rarely seen in Vietnamese temples but popular in Japan
The floors stacked up on top of one another, and the golden patterns and paper lanterns on the roof also resemblance Japanese temples
Behind the community hall is the two-story wooden gazebo on water (they call it “Gac ngam Phat”, or the pavilion to admire Buddha)
The entrance to the community hall
The garden is another beautiful piece of architecture. Consistent with the Japanese temple theme, there are a lot of details in the garden to complete the design, like rough-edged stone pavement, paper lamps, stone lights, and a small garden monk statue. And at the end of the driveway is a man-made pond with a magnificent statue of “Quan Am” or Avalokitesvara.
Quan Am statue
The fountain and stream in the middle of the yard
The bridge crosses over the man-made pond to Quan Am dais
On the left of this dais and at the back of the main hall is the place for the monks with a stone step path over a small stream
A small garden monk statue
A stone plate with the monastery name on it, “Tu Vien Khanh An”
The reception between the driveway and the main hall
When You Should Visit Khanh An Monastery
The way to Khanh An Monastery is quite far and not convenient, so the monastery is more lively on weekends, filled with young locals coming here to take pictures of the beautiful architecture or Buddhist followers from far places. However, to fully enjoy the sacred atmosphere, you should pay a visit on significant events of Buddhism like Phat Dan Vesak (15th of the fourth month in the lunar calendar), Vu Lan (15th of the seventh month in the lunar calendar), mid-autumn (15th of the eighth month in lunar calendar). Other big events of the temple are the death memorials of past abbots.
You can also come here to learn about Buddhism. Many meditation and mindfulness courses bring Buddhism closer to the locals’ lives. A regular course is “Song Tinh Thuc” (Mindful Living), held on the last Sunday of each month and lasts for the whole day from 6 AM to 6 PM. The language of the courses is Vietnamese, so you should contact the monastery first to ask if there is any translation assistance before joining them.
Summary of Khanh An Monastery – the Japanese Temple in Ho Chi Minh City
If you want a half-day out of the city and embrace a peaceful atmosphere, going to Khanh An Monastery could be a great idea. It is fantastic architecture, and the vibes here will bring you a refreshing and relaxing time.
The goodbye sign with a meaningful send-off, “Tranh Ac Lam Lanh”, meaning avoid the evils and do good deeds