Jade Emperor Pagoda – a holy place in Saigon

In the heart of busy Saigon, you can still a peaceful place – Jade Emperor Pagoda. This site is one of the temples famous for the holiness and tranquillity of Ho Chi Minh City.

Tourists come to visit the temple because of the sacredness and admire the unique architecture here.

Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda |@_tnhuyentien

The Jade Emperor Pagoda

  • Address: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. 
  • Opening hours: all-day
  • Phone: 028 3820 3102
  • Entrance fee: free
  • Dress code: Elegant clothes, no tops, paints covering knees.
  • Other names of Jade Emperor Pagoda: Ngoc Hoang pagoda, Phuoc Hai Tu.

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the holy places, so it attracts a large number of tourists and the local people to the pilgrimage.

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is also known as Phuoc Hai Tu Pagoda. The temple was built by Luu Minh in Guangdong ( China) in the early 20th century in a Chinese architectural style.

In 1984, the pagoda was renamed Phuoc Hai Pagoda. However, the name the Jade Emperor is still familiar to people here because the main hall of the temple is to worship Ngoc Hoang – the heaven king.

The pagoda is in the heart of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, and is open every day. Although it is quite isolated from other attractions in Saigon, it is not difficult to take a taxi or bus to this site.

Ngoc Hoang Temple
Ngoc Hoang Temple | @chi.july

The appropriate time to visit Ngoc Hoang Pagoda

The southern provinces, including Ho Chi Minh City, have only 2 seasons: the dry and the rainy seasons.

The rainy season usually starts from May to November, and the dry lasts for five months from December to April next year.

Whether it is rainy or dry time, you can also visit Saigon because each season has different exciting feelings without much impact on your trip. Please see more the best time to visit Saigon.

However, tourists usually visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda at the beginning to middle of the first lunar month (often from starting to mid – Feb). For other periods, the temple will be more empty, and you do not have to meet too many people.

Despite that, like many other temples in Ho Chi Minh City, Jade Emperor Pagoda is crowded and bustling. Tourists and locals are in and out, so come here early in the morning to avoid the midday crowd.

Buying a small turtle at the gate, then you release it at the large lake in the middle of the temple so that you can pray for luck and peace.

It is very interesting that President Obama also visited this temple when he came to Vietnam to burn incense and hear about the history of this temple.

Ngoc Hoang Pagoda
Ngoc Hoang pagoda | @kenjitran

Architecture and worshipping culture of the pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda is designed in Chinese architectural style with colourful motifs.

This ancient temple was built of baked bricks combined with a yin-yang tile roof. The roof and its edges have many ceramic statues.

Inside the temple have many artworks such as worship paintings, worshipping statues, and double saying lines. They are made of wood, pottery, and papier-mache.

So, please note that some frightening pictures can scare children, and the smell of incense in the temple may be uncomfortable for some people.

The entrance to the temple is always crowded with monks and worshipers praying in the yard.

Enter the main hall to see the Jade Emperor – the King of Heaven. Right above the statue is a row of beautifully carved wood.

The pagoda consists of different small spaces, and the guests can visit them one by one. If you have time, go up the terrace then see the surroundings and what is happening in the ground, that is a great experience.

Phuoc hai tu
The yard of Phuoc Hai Tu | @nguyenthanh136

The campus of the temple is about 2,300 m2. In front of the main temple, there is a small shrine with the statue of the Dharma protector. The three-door gate features prominent lines of the two dragons.

In the middle, the yard is large with a big aquarium containing many kinds of fishes, and on the right is a turtle tank. These animals are released by pilgrims. People praying for good fortune will release yellow or red carps; those who pray for health, release the catfish; if you want to pray for having new babies, you will put turtles.

The temple consists of three main buildings: The First Temple, the Central Palace and the Main Palace.

In the main palace where worships the Jade Emperor, there is a person who will receive jars of oils from the pilgrims to pour into the offering lamps to the Jade Emperor and gods.

These people will say their full name and what they want to pray for while their oils are pouring into the lamps. After that, the prayers will apply oil to the head or abdomen to ask for blessings.

The ceremony of pouring oil into lamps is one of the Chinese customs. According to them, adding the burning gas into the lamp has many meanings to wish everything goes smoothly in work, longevity and health.

Most people come here to pray for health, peace, talent, fortune, favourable jobs, good luck. Some wish for themselves, and the others pray for their families and relatives.

Jade Emperor Temple HCMC
Paying at the hall of Kim Hoa Thanh Mau | @timbarnsley

Typically, the temple also worships Kim Hoa Thanh Mau (the god who considers giving birth) and 12 midwives. Each of 12 midwives takes care of one thing for babies: manipulating hands, shaping legs, adjusting their heads, and then teaching them how to walk and practice speaking, etc. 

The mystery of holiness in Jade Emperor Pagoda

A holy pagoda to pray for children

Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most sacred pagodas in Vietnam. Infertile couples often come here to pray for their children. They wish at the hall of Kim Hoa Thanh Mau and 12 midwives. 

Just pray truthfully, the infertile couples will have good luck.

In this area, there is often an old lady who instructs guests what to do. She takes a red thread and puts it on the hands of Buddhist pilgrims. After praying, if wishing to have a boy, then the thread is hung on the right, and for a girl, hung it on the left. 

After that, the prayer rubs the belly of the midwife 3 times and then rubs her belly 3 times. Then rub the baby’s stomach three times under the midwife’s feet and then rub her stomach 3 more times.

The old lady pours oil into the lamps and reads the names, ages, and desires of the prayer. That’s all the rituals.

If someone achieves the satisfactory, then she will buy fresh fruits, incense, and flowers to make offerings to the Holy Mothers. Then, when the baby gets one month and one year old, her relatives carry the sweet soup and sticky steamed rice to say thanks to them again. 

A place to wish for love

In addition to the famous site for the wishes to have the children, Ngoc Hoang pagoda is also popular for praying for love. So, it also attracts a large number of guests to wish for love here.

Many people believe that it is only necessary to pay sincerely, the wish will become true. The prayer tells his/her name and the lover in his/her heart. Then, he/she touch the statue of Mr To and Mrs Nguyet so that they can make them become a couple.

Visiting the temples is well-known for all of the Vietnamese and many international visitors. If you have the opportunity to travel to Saigon, visit Ngoc Hoang Pagoda to admire the ancient beauty of the ancient pagoda and also to pray for peace, health, favourable work, or children.

Hopefully, your wish at the Jade Emperor Pagoda will become true.