Giac Lam Pagoda

From its distinctive seven-story tower to its serene gardens, this ancient pagoda is the ideal place for quiet reflection and to discover Ho Chi Minh City’s Buddhist roots.

Experience an important piece of Ho Chi Minh City’s history at the Giac Lam Pagoda. This wooden Buddhist pagoda, originally built in 1744, is the oldest in the city. Step through the gates of Giac Lam Pagoda and enjoy the tranquil sanctuary where monks have prayed for centuries.

Giac Lam Pagoda is instantly recognizable because of its stupa, a seven-story tower and one of Ho Chi Minh City’s famous landmarks. Tour each of the floors in the stupa to see a variety of relics of the Buddha.

The front garden houses heavily adorned tombs of venerated monks. Visit the outbuilding to see colorful urns containing ashes, along with candles and other offerings to the deceased. Its centerpiece is the rare Bodhi tree, which has presided over the garden since 1953. Admire the towering white statue of Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of compassion, which stands next to the tree.

The main building of Giac Lam Pagoda comprises the ceremonial hall, the dharma hall and the meal hall. Try to count the 98 pillars throughout the temple, which are carved with important Buddhist phrases. See some of the temple’s historic statues, which demonstrate the evolution of Vietnamese art throughout the years. The walls are lined with portraits commemorating the dead. Visit the main altar, which is centered around a large statue of Amitabha Buddha, an important figure in the Dharma.

The monks at Giac Lam Pagoda are friendly and welcoming to visitors. Depending on when you visit, you may be lucky enough to hear them perform their beautiful chanting ceremony and prayer service. In a side room, a monk tells fortunes and aids the suffering.

Giac Lam Pagoda is open daily, but is closed for a few hours around noon. It is located 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers) from downtown Ho Chi Minh City and is easily accessible by bike or taxi. Remove your hat before entering the temple.