Thien Hau Pagoda

Getty Images/Moment Open

Thien Hau Pagoda

Ho Chi Minh City

This gorgeous 19th-century temple is dedicated to the goddess Thien Hau, and always attracts a mix of worshippers and visitors, who mingle beneath the large coils of incense suspended overhead. It is believed that Thien Hau can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to save people in trouble on the high seas.

There are intricate ceramic friezes above the roof line of the interior courtyard, while the protectors of the pagoda are said to be two land turtles that live here. Near the large braziers stand two miniature wooden structures in which a small figure of Thien Hau is paraded around nearby streets on the 23rd day of the third lunar month.

On the main dais are three figures of Thien Hau, one behind the other, all flanked by two servants or guardians. To the right is a scale-model boat and on the far right is the Goddess Long Mau, Protector of Mothers and Newborns.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ho Chi Minh City attractions

1. Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda

0.07 MILES

Noteworthy for its gilded woodwork, this temple has a large carved wooden boat hanging over its entrance and inside, to the left of the doorway, an…

2. Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda

0.07 MILES

Retaining much of its original rich ornamentation, this 19th-century temple – a guildhall named after Sanshan (Three Mountains) in China's seaboard Fujian…

3. Quan Am Pagoda

0.09 MILES

One of Cholon’s most active and colourful temples, this shrine was founded in the early 19th century. It’s named after the Goddess of Mercy, whose full…

4. Traditional Herb Shops

0.14 MILES

While you’re roaming the area, stroll over to the strip of traditional herb shops between Ð Luong Nhu Hoc and Ð Trieu Quang Phuc for an olfactory…

5. Cholon Jamail Mosque

0.14 MILES

The clean lines and minimal ornamentation of this mosque contrast starkly with nearby Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist temples. Note the pool for ritual…

6. Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda

0.18 MILES

Delightfully fronted by greenery and opening to an interior blaze of red, gold, green and yellow, this is one of the most beautifully ornamented temples…

7. Ha Chuong Hoi Quan Pagoda

0.22 MILES

This Fujian temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Seafarers, Thien Hau (Thien Hau Thanh Mau), also known as Ma To. The four carved stone pillars, wrapped…

8. Ong Bon Pagoda

0.31 MILES

This atmospheric temple is crammed with gilded carvings, smoking incense and the constant hubbub of kids from the large school next door. Built by Chinese…