Jade Emperor Pagoda – Where President Obama visited in Saigon

Ngọc Hoàng pagoda - Ho Chi Minh attractions

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: September 26, 2019

If you have a chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City, which is renowned by active and modern beauty, you will be so surprised by a one-hundred-year-old pagoda nestled with high buildings and in a bustling commercial center – Jade Emperor Pagoda.

In Vietnamese, it is known as Chùa Ngọc Hoàng (aka Phước Hải Tự). As one of the most visited Ho Chi Minh attractions, the pagoda is a familiar religious place for local people as well as domestic and foreign tourists.

    Location:  73 Mai Thi Luu Street, Dakao ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
    Opening hours:  From 8:00 to 17:00 (every day)

I. History of Jade Emperor Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda was built in the early 20th century by a Chinese man whose name is Luu Minh, who left China and went to Vietnam to live and do business. He is a believer of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, so he wanted to construct a pagoda to worship Buddha and Jade Pagoda.

Jade Emperor Pagoda interiors

In 1982, super Buddhist monk Thich Vinh Khuong took over the pagoda. From that, the pagoda has pertained to the Vietnam Buddhist Association.

In 1984, Jade Emperor Pagoda was renamed Phuoc Hai Tu. However, people still call ”Jade Emperor Pagoda” because the central chamber is a place to worship the Jade Emperor according to Chinese religious belief.

Jade Emperor Pagoda was restored 4 times in 1943, 1958, 1985 and 1986.

In 1994, the pagoda was recognized as an Artistic and Architecture site of national significance.

In 2016, Jade Emperor Pagoda had the honor of getting a visit of President of USA, Barack Obama.

II. Legend of Jade Emperor Pagoda

Legend of Jade Emperor Pagoda

According to the folk conception, Jade Emperor is known as the supreme god who heads and manages all things in heaven and earth. He has the right to decide human fates. Next to the Jade Emperor, there are many other deities helping him govern.

Jade Emperor Pagoda has a reputation for fertilization. Couples of husband and wife having no children often pray sincerely in Kim Hoa Thanh Mau and 12 midwives’ place of worship. Kim Hoa Thanh Mau is a goddess caring for fertilization on the earth.

Tourists who go to this otherworldly pagoda to pray for children are put a red thread on their wrist. If they desire a son, they must pray and hang that thread on the statue on the right. If they want a girl, they hang it on the statue on the left. Then, they rub their stomach 3 times and rub on the stomach of the children’s statue under foot of midwives 3 times. Finally, they rub their stomach 3 times again. If their dreams come true, they have to buy fruits, incenses and fresh flowers to go to the pagoda and show their gratitude towards the goddess.

Visitors also pray for good chances in love. People believe that only by burning incenses, saying your name and your beloved’s name, and touching the matchmaker statue, your wish will come true.

Meanwhile, in the central chamber which worships Jade Emperor, a lot of people gather and pray for their health, career, business,…with reverent and solemn gestures.

III. Highlights of Jade Emperor Pagoda

1. Traditions

Jade Emperor Pagoda gate

In the past, the 9th of January ( according to Lunar Calendar) was chosen to be the date of birth of the Jade Emperor, so on that day, people often prepared many offerings to worship and pray Jade Emperor for their health, happiness, and success.

Nowadays, people still obey old traditions, go to the pagoda and worship the deities on special occasions such as Lunar New Year, Buddha Birthday, Mid-autumn or the first day and the fifteenth day of each month.

2. Structure

Jade Emperor Pagoda is an old large pagoda with an area of 2300 square meters, which makes a comfortable space for everyone to walk and visit. 

2.1. Outside:

Outside of Jade Emperor Pagoda

The pagoda is designed impressively which bases on Chinese religious architecture style with many pictures and walls decorated gorgeously. The roof is covered by colorful Yin-Yang tiles. There are some statues on the roof and gables.

In front of the pagoda, there is a small temple with a guardian statue. The three-door temple gate is outstanding with meandering lines which looks like the shape of waves.

In the middle of the yard, there is a fish tank and a turtle tank on the right where people set free to eager for a quiet life.

2.2. Inside:

Inside Jade Emperor Pagoda

There are many paintings, statues, and altars made from different materials such as wood, ceramic and cardboard. The pagoda has about 300 statues, including 100 statues made of cartridge-papers, presenting the genies meeting the Jade Emperor. 

Jade Emperor Pagoda includes 3 halls: front hall, mid-hall, and main hall. The front hall has a Buddha statue. Tourists often burn incense and pray for wishes when getting inside the pagoda.

In the main hall, there are 2 wooden statues of general gods, who tame tigers and dragons, on both sides. This is the place for worshipping Jade Emperor, attracting many visitors to visit and pray for. 

Besides, there is the altar of Kim Hoa Thanh Mau and 12 midwives. This is the most crowded area because many people go there to pray for offspring. On the right of the main hall, Quan Am statue is put in solemn position. 

IV. Best Time to Visit

Jade Emperor Pagoda is a famous pagoda in Saigon. Due to a large number of tourists visiting this site daily, you had better visit the pagoda early in the morning in order to avoid the crowd and enjoy the peaceful and quiet atmosphere here.

V. How to Get to Jade Emperor Pagoda in HCMC?

Jade Emperor Pagoda is placed in the center of Ho Chi Minh City so it is very easy for you to get there. 

Depend on accommodations, conditions, hobbies, etc. you can choose any type of transportation suitable for you, namely motorbike, bus, taxi or walking. Each of them brings to you specific interesting experiences.

Over 100 years old went by with many changes, Jade Emperor Pagoda remains the timeless charm. Its beauty is a harmonious combination among 3 main religions in the Orient: Taoism, Buddha, and Confucianism.

Thanks to the impressive and unique beauty with sacred legend, Jade Emperor Pagoda becomes one of the most wonderful destinations which tourists must visit when they travel to Saigon.

If you want to discover a diversified culture, Jade Emperor Pagoda will be an ideal site for your itinerary. Don’t forget to comment below and share your emotions and truthful experience after visiting this site.

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