YOUR INSIDER'S RELIGIOUS ATTRACTIONS GUIDE
IN HO CHI MINH CITY 🇻🇳 SINCE 2008
SAIGON INSPIRATION ATTRACTIONS RELIGIOUS ATTRACTIONS NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
The famous central Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists, is one of HCMC’s architectural marvels. Erected exclusively with materials imported from France, it is one of the most popular things to see in Ho Chi Minh City for tourists, along with Ben Thanh Market and the Reunification Palace. The official name of the church is “Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception”.
Sitting between two streams of traffic, Notre Dam Cathedral is in the middle of Saigon’s chaotic District 1. The streets outside are always bustling with traffic and street vendors. Inside, the decor is austere, but the church is lively during services and is a great location for wedding photos. But not only the inside.
Around the red brick building you often see teams of photographers with wedding couples, the brides either in European white dresses, Asian red dresses, or traditionally Vietnamese: in the red áo dài.
Many tourists head straight to Notre Dame Cathedral, or Notre Dame de Saigon as it was called by the French, as their first point of interest in Saigon, and with good reason. It’s hard to miss the church’s twin towers projecting into the sky for some 60 meters.
Name of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica
Originally, Ho Chi Minh City’s most prominent sacral building was simply called Saigon Church. In 1959 Bishop Pham Van Thien held the ceremony to install the statue of Peaceful Notre Dame, which was imported from Rome, hewn out of a block of Italian granite.
The current name Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica replaced the older term in 1962 when the Vatican elevated the building to a basilica and declared it the chief cathedral of Saigon. Vietnamese: Nhà thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn
Construction History & Material
Notre Dame Cathedral’s red bricks arrived in Vietnam from Marseille, and Bishop Lefevre himself laid the first stone for the construction of the basilica on the 28th of March in 1863. At the time when the church was constructed, it was the most beautiful sacral building in the French colonies, not only a religious flagship but also imposing the French influence in Indochina. The vivid, red bricks retain their color until today. Back then they were unique and marveled upon by the locals. Broken tiles and bricks have been replaced with local materials from Vietnam.
The Miracle of 2005
In 2005, the statue of the Virgin Mary located out front supposedly shed tears, according to eyewitnesses, although the Catholic Church refuted this event. But whether the Vatican approved of it or not, the alleged miracle caused such a huge commotion that the traffic jam could only be dissolved by police intervention.
The mass in Vietnamese and English is usually held on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Other Points of Interest Nearby
SAIGON INSPIRATION ATTRACTIONS RELIGIOUS ATTRACTIONS THE MOSQUES IN HO CHI MINH CITY
Ho Chi Minh City has a healthy respect for all religions. In fact, anywhere around Vietnam is generally accepting and courteous of other religions. It’s simply never an issue here. Social and religious tolerance seems to be part of the Vietnamese psyche.
The earliest recorded introduction of Islam in the country is in the late 10th century. The main group of Muslim people in Vietnam is the Cham people, one of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups. These makeup about 65% of the Muslim population. Almost 80% of Vietnam’s Muslims live in the Southwest of the country.
If you go to visit a mosque remember that strict codes of dress and behavior are demanded. Always dress modestly and keep your legs and shoulders covered. It is important that you remove your shoes at the entrance. Also, check the times of certain important prayer meetings. These are fascinating buildings and an important part of the fabric of Ho Chi Minh City’s society.
The city has Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims in good numbers, all living in harmony with one another. The Buddhist temples and Christian Churches are dotted everywhere, it is hard to miss them. So, where are the mosques in Ho Chi Minh City?
Saigon Central Mosque (Jamia Al Muslimin Mosque)
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm every day
The most prominent mosque in Ho Chi Minh City is the Jamia Al Muslimin Mosque right in the center of town. The mosque is located on Dong Du, a small street that runs between Hai Ba Trung and Dong Khoi. It is possible to walk past without noticing. Jamia Al Muslimin Mosque was built in the 1930s by South Indian Muslim expatriates, originally meant as a place of worship exclusively from Southern India. These days, Muslims around the globe are allowed to visit to worship and practice their belief. You may also pay a visit if you wish to learn more about Muslim culture as it also features beautiful architecture. Remember to be respectful when you visit as it is intended to be a solemn place for people to worship.
If you get hungry, you can also find halal food available right outside the mosque. There are also shaded verandah and stone floors, where you can sit, read or hang out with your family.
What people are saying: “This blessed place of worship gives off a peaceful and calming vibe. Love visiting here and would recommend it to anyone. Located next to Sheraton hotel.” – shereenkhan25 | trip advisor
Jamil Islamiyah, sometimes called the Nancy Mosque, is one of the primary mosques in Ho Chi Minh City. It was originally built in 1950 and was reconstructed between1980 and 2003. In 2004, the mosque opened its doors to other Muslim followers.
After your visit, you can go around the back alleyways for a meal. Here, you will find a halal restaurant called Pho Muslim which makes a perfect rest stop for a day of exploration.
What people are saying: “The architectural shape outside the façade is quite beautiful, looks different from the usual architecture, the roof has a dome structure, the whole building is painted green and looks cool and adds a special feature to the city.” – Minh Tuyền Trần Trương | google.com
Al Rahim Mosque
Al Rahim was the first mosque in Vietnam. It was built in 1885 and mainly serves Malaysian and Indonesian groups every weekend. Here you will see pristine architecture and all the noticeable Muslim symbols decorated on its walls and all around the mosque.
It is located near the center of the city which makes it easy to visit, and if you get hungry after worship, you can also find halal food nearby.
What people are saying: “Walking distance to Ben Thanh market. Such a pleasure to get to pray in a mosque amidst the shopping spree” – Norrulhuda Taib | google.com
This mosque was built in 1952 and it is used to accommodate Vietnamese and Indian migrants. It also welcomes the Cham and Chinese people. Today, there are over 250 Muslims who visit each Friday to worship and perform their Muslim rituals.
What people are saying: “A small mosque but the caretaker of the mosque Mr. ABDUL KAREEM is very kind and generous and also his wife Fatima is very loving and caring. Allah bless both of them Ameen” – Shah Jeeh | google.com
Cho Lon Mosque
Opening Hours: From Monday to Sunday
Cholon Mosque was built in 1932 and was initially exclusive to Muslim communities from Southern India. In 1975, the mosque opened its doors to Malaysian and Indonesian Muslims who lived nearby.
If you’re visiting to see the Mihrab – the tiled niche in the wall that indicates the direction of prayer towards Mecca – with your own eyes or just to appreciate the architecture, the best time to go is around lunch or dinner time so you can enjoy tasty halal food at the restaurant on the grounds before or after visiting the mosque.
What people are saying: “Excellent Location! Centrally located in the heart of the city. Really clean and well kept. Makes traveling to the city really worthwhile.” – Yusuff W | trip advisor
Masjid Jamiul Anwar
District 8 is where the majority of the Cham people are located in Ho Chi Minh City. The mosque has a narrow alley and might be crowded especially on Fridays when large numbers of Muslims come to worship to the Pillar of Salat.
What people are saying: “A nice mosque in a narrow alley. A lot of Muslims in this area, hence you can find many Muslim shops and restaurants.” – Huseyin Kizil | google.com
SAIGON INSPIRATION ATTRACTIONS RELIGIOUS ATTRACTIONS VINH NGHIEM PAGODA
The largest Mahayana pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, a center for Buddhist beliefs and practices, and one of the city’s most beautiful tourist attractions, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is a must see when visiting Ho Chi Minh City.
“Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm” (literally “Ever Solemn”) was built over a span of seven years, from 1964 to 1971. The complex, an area of around 6,000 square meters, comprises of the pagoda itself, as well as a 25 meter tall four-story tower that stands behind the pagoda, which was finished in 1982. The pagoda has two floors – a sanctuary on the top floor and a ground floor usually open to visitors. There is also a building with classrooms and housing for the temple’s monks and nuns. If you’re lucky you may get to speak to a few since many like to take advantage of visitors to practice their English.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is not only a top tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, it is also central to the city’s continuing tradition of dedicated Buddhist beliefs and practices. Locals visit the pagoda to pay homage to Buddha, and also to Siddhartha Gautama and Samantabhadra.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda fuses Japanese influence with traditional Vietnamese architecture. Based largely on the design of its namesake, the 11th Century Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang Province, the complex was built with the assistance of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association. As such, the finished array of temples and statues are somewhat reminiscent of Buddhist architecture in Japan. A large, Japanese-style Buddha statue stands flanked by two goddesses and wooden carvings of the four sacred animals in Buddhism – the unicorn, dragon, tortoise and phoenix.
The Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is open to visitors and worshippers all year round, but depending on what aspect of the temple you wish to see, you should visit at certain times. For the quiet and peace of everyday worship, visit in the morning and avoid big celebrations and festivals. To experience the pagoda with many people, each person visiting to pray for luck, happiness, safety and other blessings, the best time to visit is during the Lunar New Year or on the 15th of every month.
It’s easy to get to Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, since the complex is tucked close to the center. Hop on a xe ôm and ride the hectic streets or take a long wander (at least 45 minutes – it’s 3.6 kilometers from Phạm Ngũ Lão street).
If you are up for the walk, head to the corner of Lê Lợi and Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa and continue straight up Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa from there. Make a stop at The Independence Palace, or walk across the park to Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Central Post Office. The War Remnants Museum is also close by, so a walk to the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is an excellent way to combine Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular and fascinating tourist attractions into one, exciting self-made tour.
Inside the complex there is a restaurant which we would definitely recommend for lunch. Nhà Hàng Việt Chay is a Vietnamese eatery, serving delicious vegetarian food. Admission to the temple is free, and the whole complex is well worth a visit.