After more than 10 centuries since Buddhism first came to Vietnam, a lot of temples and pagodas have been built across the country. Besides Jade Emperor Pagoda and Xa Loi Pagoda, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most famous and most important pagodas of Buddhism in Vietnam. Read our guide to this beautiful religious attraction and add it to your list of what to do in Ho Chi Minh City tours.
Address: 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 3
Opening hours: 7 AM – 6 PM
How to get there: It is about 5 km from Tan Son Nhat Airport. If you take a taxi there, it will take about 15 minutes.
History Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City was named after Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang (Northern Vietnam), a center of Truc Lam Zen, a Vietnamese Buddhist school. The pagoda in Bac Giang is one of the oldest pagodas, built in the Ly Dynasty (1010-1028), the time when Buddhism in Vietnam was the most developed. The establishment of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City was initiated and financially supported by the monks and followers who emigrated from the North to the South of Vietnam in the 20th century.
The design was made by architect Nguyen Ba Lang and engineer Bui Van To. From 1964 to 1971, the pagoda was built and finished with three buildings: the main hall for worshiping Buddha, a great tower to contain the relics and a place for social and cultural works of the pagoda. In 1982, the pagoda established another tower that was opened to the local community. In 2015, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda welcomed the Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron on his visit to Ho Chi Minh City.
Structure of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was built on an area of 7,000 square meters of what used to be a muddy pond of morning glory. The land was covered and leveled with 40,000 cubic meters of red soil, but it was still not enough to hold the weight of such a significant construction. Later, a white clay surface at a depth of 6-7 meters underground was discovered, and thus the building was constructed with steel and concrete posts that went deep to this surface.
At the front, there is a “three-door” gate leading to the front yard. A statue of Guanyin is put in the middle of this yard. In the corner of the left of the pagoda when you just come through the door, there is a small garden, decorated with greens and stone steps. Inside this area, there is the stone tower that is recognized as the most sophisticated and tallest (14 meters) stone tower in Vietnam.
On the left and right sides are rows of buildings, including the rooms for the monks, the office of the Buddha congregation, and a vegetarian restaurant. You can take a walk along the halls of these buildings and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of a Vietnamese pagoda, looking at the green and fishes swimming in a pond.
There are many stairways (7 stairways in total) leading to the main hall. Outside of the main hall building on the upper floor, there is also an open space with seats, a bell tower holding the bell given by the Japanese Buddhism Congregation, huge bronze urns, and a bronze statue of Buddha placed in the middle. To the left of this open area, there is the 7-story, 40-meter-high tower, which you can easily recognize from afar.
Behind the main building is the community tower to keep the relics of deceased followers. The place is usually visited by family members on the date of their death. In front of this tower, you can see another white stone statue of Ksitigarbha (god of earth).
The main hall building architecture is based on the Northern pagoda style with a curved roof decorated with phoenix head sculptures and a wheel of dharma in the middle. The building is 35-meter long, 22-meter wide and 15-meter high, supported with concrete posts. On the veranda of the main hall, there are two Vajrapani (protector of Buddha) statues on two ends. Before coming to the main building, you need to take off your shoes. There is a charity fund box at the central entrance; the incense is put on the left door. Followers and monks will usually sit in front of small tables to meditate and recite the Sutra.
On the Buddha altar, there are three statues of Gautama Buddha in the middle, Manjushri (god of wisdom) on the left, and Samantabhadra (god of practice and meditation) on the right. Four Holy Beasts, Dragon along with famous pagodas in Vietnam and Asia are made into sculptures and other Buddha statues are placed along the two sides of the main hall in Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.
A Vegetarian Restaurant in Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
You can visit this restaurant to enjoy vegan food. There are a lot of vegan versions of Vietnamese foods you can enjoy here, even dairy desserts like pudding.
Opening hours: 10 AM – 10 PM
Price range: VND 40,000 – VND 165,000
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda on Special Occasions
On the 8th of December in Lunar Calendar, the date of Buddha’s enlightenment, there is a big event taking place at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda. On Buddha’s birthday, there is also a large number of followers who come here, which may cause traffic jams in front of the pagoda. Tet and full moon days are other opportunities for people to come and pray for themselves and their families.
Summary of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
At Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, you will learn a lot more about Buddhism in Vietnam. It is a recommended place for anyone who loves the peaceful and sacred atmosphere of religious sites or wants to try out a variety of vegetarian dishes sold in the restaurants inside the pagoda.