Thien Hau Temple: a sacred place in Saigon City

Thien Hau Temple has ancient beauty covering the traditional architecture of Chinese style. An over-250-years-old pagoda is a holy place located in a busy and active city of Saigon. This site seems to remind us of a peaceful area to think about life and wish luck for relatives and friends.

Thien Hau Temple
Thien Hau Temple | © manhhai/flickr

Thien Hau Temple in Ho Chi Minh City

  • Address: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, HCMC, Vietnam.
  • Opening hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Entrance fee: free. A cost will occur when you buy incense to burn to pray.
  • Photography: Yes, allow tourists to take pictures, but limit doing it in the main hall to show respect.

The important role of Thien Hau Temple

Thien Hau pagoda was built in the 18th century by the Chinese people that has become one of the top sacred places in Saigon. The local people often come to burn incenses to pray for peace, especially during Tet holidays in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, there are different sites to worship God, Buddha, hero, in which the people call them shrine, temple, or pagoda. To know them easily, the Vietnamese simply call the holiest places “pagoda”.

Thien Hau pagoda has a great influence on the cultural life of the Chinese community living in Saigon. It has existed for over 250 years, but it still retains of Chinese architectural style. Many sculpted lines and artifacts have high historical and artistic values, which makes this place more and more attractive to domestic and foreign visitors to become one of famous tourist attractions in HCMC.

Thien Hau Pagoda
Thien Hau Pagoda | Photo: @hoangminh.dg

Although many other temples and pagodas are around, Thien Hau pagoda always attracts a large number of local people and visitors to do charity work. This place is also a favorite area for photographers to take pictures for Tet when the girls wear traditional ao dai for beautiful photos.

Highlights that you will notice in the temple

Thien Hau Statue is worshipped in the main hall, which was carved from a block of a-meter-high wood. The statue was in a small temple in Bien Hoa District (Dong Nai Province), and they moved it to this pagoda in 1836. Ba Thien Hau is considered the patron god of fishermen and seafarers, being especially respected in Buddhism and Taoism in East Asian countries.

Ba Thien Hau
Ba Thien Hau | ©Thanh Nguyen/vnexpress

In the temple, there are nearly 400 antiques, including 7 idol statues, 6 stone statues, 9 stone steles, 4 copper incense burners … dating back to the 12th Quang Tu (1886).

thien hau censer
An ancient censer at Thien Hau Temple | @hungsleight

The most impressive thing that you can find at the temple is also the round incense hanging on the ceiling. Visitors can buy these incense sticks, write their wishes on paper. Then the temple worker will hang incense with the wishes inside, and the guests burn it to send prayers to who and where they go.

Incense at the temple
Circle incenses at the temple | @arinkodayo

And, the two rows of temple corridors are covered with papers bearing the names and merit of the visitors and sponsors. These areas have a bright pink color, which is very eye-catching.

Pink stickers at the pagoda
Pink stickers at the pagoda | @kubi_thahu

Ba Thien Hau Temple’s architecture

If you want to see a Chinese temple in HCMC with pure Asian architecture, this site will be the first choice. The pagoda was built in a stylized three-door way of seeing the main entrance and two corridors on the sides.

Chua Ba Thien Hau is divided into three main places: the First, Central, and the Main Hall worshiping the gods in Chinese history.

  • The Main Hall is the principal place of worship of Thien Hau Thanh Mau. You will see her statue carved from a prominent wooden block in an extremely tranquil, mysterious and sacred space.
  • The First Hall is to place the deity of Phuc Duc (Tho Dia – a land deity who controls the land of the people) and Mon Quan Vuong (deity keeping the door).
  • Finally, the Central Palace with a 130-year-old censer has many meticulous and intricate sculptures.
The area inside Thien Hau Pagoda
The area inside Thien Hau Pagoda | @misapiii

Just behind the gate, the quietness of the temple impresses visitors. Everything is tinted with time, making the space even more tranquil.

Stepping through the small gate, you seem to get lost in a mysterious but also familiar place of worshipping.

Throughout the temple are the main buildings where religious activities are organized. In the center, there is a skylight that allows light to go down and incense to fly up.

The two sides of the path are separated to make it easier for visitors to move when there are crowded with people, especially on the full moon days.

Looking at the roof of the temple, they decorate it with many statues of various shapes and sizes. All are harmoniously and strangely beautiful. If you look carefully at each one, you will find how exquisite is a feat. Since then more respect the enthusiasm and talent of the people who contributed to build and decorate the pagoda.

Surely, you will not miss coming in the middle of the main hall where Thien Hau is. The yellow-red light around her black statue becomes more shimmering and impressive. Even once time to visit here, you will have a deep impression that cannot be described in words about that mysterious, holy appearance.

Ba Thien Hau Festival

At Lunar New Year, or on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month, the local people and visitors often go to Ba Thien Hau pagoda to wish good luck.

Some people pray for fortune, grace, talent; some others wish for their blessing, peace, and tranquility for family and relatives. A few guests come here to wish for children, but it is not the correct destination. To pray for children, the local people visit Jade Emperor Pagoda.

It is because many people come here, so the censer is always suspect of incense smoke. The workers of the temple are also busy taking the foot of the burned incense, leaving room for later visitors. Aromatic smoke melts into nothingness, flies in the wind, carrying wishes from the heart of prayers.

Ba Thien Hau Festival
Ba Thien Hau Festival | @tanbinh115

Typically, an essential date of worshipping Ba Thien Hau held on March 23 of the lunar calendar is also a big event that many people participated in.

On this day, the Thien Mau is placed on a palanquin, and the people carry her around the temple. Also, many activities of unicorn dancing, performing arts have performed, creating an exciting and festive space.

Visiting Ba Thien Hau Pagoda is not only to pray but also to get a chance to learn about the culture and explore architecture in the ancient temple. Whatever you feel, you will find the balance and serenity when you visit Thien Thien temple.

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    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.