Phap Hoa Pagoda (Lotus Pagoda) in Phu Nhuan District is one of the oldest and most famous Buddhist pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built in 1928 and has since undergone various transformations. In 2015, due to its contributions to the First and Second Indochina War, Phap Hoa Pagoda was recognized as one of the city’s historical sites.
Phap Hoa Pagoda main entrance
Phap Hoa Pagoda back entrance
The pagoda’s structure was inspired by old Northern Vietnamese pagodas, so all the roofs are curved upwards with decorations like dragons, at the top. However, unlike most pagodas, Phap Hoa Pagoda was painted with a soothing blue color that goes well with its gold and white decors. The two fundamental structures here are the sanctuary and the stupa.
The side of the sanctuary and the stupa
At the front entrance, you will see two white statues of the Reclining Buddha. A big one on the right, and another in front of a stele on which Buddha’s last sermon is inscribed.
The stele’s on the right of the main entrance
A big Reclining Buddha statue hidden among trees
An interesting display at the front yard - the stones taken from Kesariya, where Buddha delivered his last sermon before attaining Maha-parinirvana
The sanctuary is intricately decorated with dragon engravings, tuberoses and lotuses, and various places for offering incense to deities. Don’t forget to take off your shoes before entering.
The sanctuary exterior
A stone engraving of the Nilakantha Dharani (the Great Compassion Mantra) at the sanctuary
The soul-cleansing atmosphere at Phap Hoa Pagoda
Phap Hoa Pagoda has a small but picturesque ground. There’s an abundance of greens planted, including a Sal tree - a major religious symbol in Buddhism - that gives the pagoda a serene atmosphere. At the back displays white marble statues of the Eighteen Arhats and different Guan Yin in a semicircle, along with an enormous stone engraving of the Lotus Sutra.
Statues of the Eighteen Arhats - Buddha’s original followers
Guan Yin and Laughing Buddha statues
Engraving of the Lotus Sutra
Address: 120/47, Thich Quang Duc Street, Ward 4, Phu Nhuan District.
Opening hours: 6.30 AM - 11 AM and 1.30 PM - 7 PM daily.
Entrance fee: None.
Phap Hoa Pagoda’s far from downtown (30 minutes by car from District 1 and 15 minutes from Tan Son Nhat airport), also the pagoda’s in a small alley, so we recommend you to use ride-hailing apps, or rent a motorbike. Either way, remember to check your 3G/4G plan in Vietnam.
There’s a big sign at the entrance leading to the alley where Phap Hoa Pagoda is
Ride-hailing apps: Fare varies among different apps and time.
The most prominent ride-hailing service in Vietnam now is Grab. Many drivers don’t speak English, but they’ll use Google Map so you can check the route along the way.
Motorbike for Rent: VND 120,000 – 300,000/day.
Parking fee: as much as you’d like to give.
Bus: VND 5,000 – 10,000/ride.
Public bus in Ho Chi Minh is an economical choice when you’re willing to walk around. Catch bus number 03 or 55 and get off at Coopmart Nguyen Kiem stop (571 - 573, Nguyen Kiem Street, Ward 9, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City).
Taxi: Fare varies among brands.
Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
Phap Hoa Pagoda plays a vital role in not just the history of Vietnam, but also the religious life of Vietnamese. If you want a retreat, while learning about Buddhism, this place is for you.
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© Written by Ngan Mai for itourvn.com