Dynamic and dotted with skyscrapers, Saigon is also home to many sacred religious institutions. Among them is Bửu Long Pagoda, known for its unique architecture – a harmonious combination of the Theravada Buddhist style in Southeast Asia and the quintessence of the Nguyễn Dynasty. It covers an area of more than 11 hectares and is located on a hill west of Đồng Nai River in the National Cultural History Park, about 20 km from the city centre.
Bửu Long Pagoda is one of the top 20 most beautiful pagodas in the world, according to National Geographic. It is both a sightseeing attraction and a peaceful Buddhist spiritual sanctuary.
The main color is white, which combines with the golden tint on the stupa for a Thai-inspired style. Because of this trait, people living in the vicinity call it Thai pagoda. However, Vietnamese architectural and cultural characteristics can also be seen in the carvings and sculptures on the majestic dragon walls, pillars, and the entrance to the main hall. Where did this combination come from?
Bửu Long Pagoda was founded in 1942 by Võ Hà Thuật. In 1958, he dedicated the entire monastery to Zen Master Hộ Tông, founder and first Supreme Patriarch of Vietnam Pre-sectarian Buddhism.
Later, the monastery underwent rounds of renovation and extension, initially consisting of works in the style of the Nguyễn Dynasty. In 1996, the gathering hall was built with contributions from buddhists in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. This demonstrated the spirit of solidarity between the three Buddhist countries.
By 2007, The Gotama Cetiya Stupa was completed. This is the largest stupa in Vietnam: its seven floors are 56 metres tall. The four surrounding auxiliary towers are called Lumbini, Enlightenment, Dharma Wheel and Nirvana. The towers are all painted white with pointed roofs made of copper. Stairs leading to the main structure bear carvings of dragons holding pearl beads in their mouths. Standing on the fourth floor, visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of the Đồng Nai River and Saigon centre with high-rise buildings in the distance.
In front of the main hall is a large sapphire blue pond surrounded by rhododendrons. In it stands a statue of a crane standing on the back of a turtle, often seen in Vietnamese pagodas.
A sense of tranquility sweeps through the pagoda, accompanied by the sounds of wind chimes and burbling water. Pilgrims leave all worries and fatigue from fast-paced city life behind as they admire the picturesque scenery. A pagoda without incense, Bửu Long is open to those who bring nothing but a sincere heart to worship and pray. Major holidays of the lunar calendar are celebrated here, such as January’s full moon day or the festival of Bát Báo Hiếu (on July 15 and August 30). In addition to religious activities, the pagoda also gives out free medicine on Saturdays.
There is no entrance fee. Visitors only need to pay a parking ticket of about 10,000 VND (C$ 0.60) per motorbike. Donations are accepted.
- Morning, 9-11 am.
- Afternoon, 14-21 pm.
81 Nguyễn Xiển Street Long Bình Ward, District 9, Saigon
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt