Thien Hau Temple (Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu), built by Cantonese immigrants in the early 19th century, pays tribute to Thien Hau (sometimes called Mazu), goddess of the sea and protector of seafarers. Situated on a busy street in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown, the active temple displays intricate porcelain dioramas from Chinese mythology both inside and out.The Basics
This Taoist temple in the Cholon neighborhood ranks among the city’s most prominent religious landmarks. As such, it features on just about every city sightseeing tour, along with other notable points of interest such as the War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, and the French colonial Old Post Office. Those with an interest in Vietnam’s Chinese communities can take a guided cyclo tour of the atmospheric Chinatown district—the largest in Vietnam—stopping at the temple, as well as Cha Tam Church, Binh Tay Market, and a local Chinese medicine practitioner.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Thien Hau Temple, sometimes called the Ba Thien Hau Pagoda, is a must-visit for spiritual travelers or those interested in Chinese Taoism.
- Remember to dress respectfully and keep your voice down, as this is an active place of worship.
- Visit the temple with a guide to learn more about the history of Chinese immigrants in Vietnam and traditional Taoist practices.
How to Get There
The temple is situated on busy Nguyen Trai Street in the Cholon neighborhood—Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown—in District 5. The easiest way to get there is to hire a taxi, motorcycle taxi, or cyclo. When to Get There
Thien Hau Temple is one of the city’s busiest places of worship, so plan to visit early in the morning on a weekday when the atmosphere is a bit more tranquil. Avoid weekends, when locals fill the temple. Incense of Thien Hau
One of the first things you’ll notice when approaching the temple is the strong smell of burning incense wafting from inside. Within the temple, large coils of incense hang from the ceiling in the main worship area. Devotees believe that the smoke from the hanging coils delivers their wishes and prayers to the deity above.