Nestled in a quiet and hidden corner of Ho Chi Minh City, Jade Emperor Pagoda becomes a calming sanctuary for those who want to practice their belief and escape from the bustling vibe of the chaotic streets outside.
About the pagoda
Emperor Jade Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu) is considered one of the most visually stunning and important shrines in Saigon. Established in 1909 by the Cantonese community, the pagoda is still a place of worship for those who practice Buddhism and Taoism which are both widely practiced in Vietnam.
Legend has it that Jade Emperor is the supreme Taoist God, or also known as “the God of the heaven.” He has a total right to decide who will set foot in the heaven and who will be led to the hell. Once inside the pagoda, tourists will have a chance to feast their eyes on an elaborate carving of the Jade Emperor himself. While Kim Hua – a goddess of fertility – is found in an anteroom to the left, the Lord of Hell is located in another corner with his minions. Spend time visiting the courtyard where monks, worshippers and tourists express their respects and admiration.
The temple consists of many halls and rooms, which are mostly dedicated to specific deities, like the Lord of Hell, the goddesses of health and fertility, and the Buddha of the future. In addition, the walls and hallways are also adorned by picturesque woodwork and Chinese characters. One of the most popular sights that draws much attention from visitors is the Hall of Ten Hells. The highlight of this sanctuary is 10 intricately carved wooden panels which illustrate the 10 layers of hell. Keep your mind in peace by heading up to the roof terrace where you are quite able to dip yourself into the breathtaking sight of the pagoda’s exterior.
In addition to being a famous landmark in the city, the temple also gets its name noted for its population of tortoises. For that reason, it is also widely known as the Tortoise Pagoda. Tourists are advised to buy one tortoise and then release it into the pond, as a symbol of hope and luck.
Like other temples and pagodas around Ho Chi Minh City, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is frequently visited by tourists and locals every day. Thus, the best way to avoid crowds is to get there in the early morning. Situated in District 1 of the city, it is also open every day, from 7 AM to 6 PM. You can reach the pagoda by taxi, bus or motorbike. Remember to dress properly when visiting such the sacred place. Don’t wear shorts, hats or anything that covers your head. Showing a measure of respect to the culture and beliefs is always encouraged.
Further, it is equally important to note that the burning of joss sticks that creates a pungent smoke may make some people uncomfortable while the ominously carved panels may scare children. Weigh up everything carefully before carrying kids to this spot. Though there is no entrance fee to the gate, every visitor can make donations!
You can visit our website to read more about tourist destinations and travel guides in Ho Chi Minh city. Have a great trip!