First comes love, then comes marriage...
Set in the northeast corner of District 1, Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chua Phuoc Hai) is easily Saigon's most mysterious.
Built in 1909 by the Chinese, for a time in the 1960s this was a secret training centre for the revolutionary cause. Things are more tame these days, though the turtle pond seems overrun with a bale of turtles (yes, that is indeed the collective term for turtles) and a wildly popular shrine (small room on the left) to Kim Hue Nuong Nuong, goddess of motherhood. She’s surrounded by midwives, all holding many children. As one local explained to us, women come to pray for love, marriage and to conceive, we assume in that order.
The main shrine is of course the namesake Jade Emperor Ngoc Hoang Dai De, and the temple is full of other shrines, statues and bas-relief. The dim lighting and smoke only add to the atmosphere to say the least.
The pagoda can be busy, and it definitely will be busy on the important Buddhist days of the first and 15th day of the lunar calendar. Jade Emperor Pagoda is closer to Pham Ngu Lao than the city’s other notable pagodas, so this one is definitely worth the look and some photos. A quick visit should take around 15 minutes.
Entry into the pagoda is free. There’s a small fee for motorbike parking.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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