Built in 1744, the Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the oldest temples in Ho Chi Minh City. A Buddhist structure designated as a historic site by the Vietnamese government, the site boasts an impressive sanctuary filled with gold figures and a fat laughing Buddha. The large gardens surrounding the pagoda also contain a sacred bodhi tree.
Like many other Vietnamese Buddhist temples, Giac Lam Pagoda mixes elements of Buddhism with Taoism and Confucianism. The main temple was built in 1744, but the most prominent part of the complex is the seven-storied stupa which was started in the 1970s and completed in the early 1990s (after decades of delay due to the Vietnam War). The towering structure now houses items said to be relics of the Buddha.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is no fee to enter the pagoda or the complex.
- Make sure to dress modestly when visiting the temple, covering your shoulders and knees.
- The relics in the new stupa are located on the top floor and can only be accessed via stairs.
How to Get There
The Giac Lam Pagoda is located west of the central part of the city, about 1.8 miles (3 km) from Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown. The easiest way to reach the site from central Ho Chi Minh City or Cholon is by taxi or motorbike taxi.
When to Get There
The temple is open from sunrise until noon and then again from early afternoon until late in the evening. Prayers are held daily in the pre-dawn hours, around noon, in the late afternoon, and in the evening.
Travelers often combine a trip to the Giac Lam Pagoda with a visit to the Cholon district. Cholon is the largest Chinatown in Vietnam and is full of interesting Chinese temples, markets, and restaurants. The atmosphere and architecture is quite different from the rest of Ho Chi Minh City. The neighborhood can be reached by bus from the market area in central Ho Chi Minh City, or by taxi or motorcycle taxi from anywhere in town.