The Giac Lam Pagoda is the oldest Vietnamese-Buddhist temple in HCMC. Upon entering you will more than likely be met by a monk who will guide you around the temple in very broken English (and then fluently ask for a dollar at the end - but it's a worthy cause!). It was very hard to communicate with the monk but we all made an effort (unlike several other parties I noticed) and it was well worth it. The monk pointed out little details that we easily would have overlooked otherwise, and helped us find the best camera opportunities through pointing and making clicking noises!
We began by removing our shoes and looking at the various altars and buddha statues, many of which are carved from wood with beautiful intricate details. We were then led into an area where wealthy families can rent shrines for their ancestors. Ancestor worship is a very important part of Vietnamese religion and everyday life. The monks and families tend to the little shrines which house photos, red lights and fruit.
In the grounds surrounding the Pagoda are some beautiful old memorial stones. Again the detail is amazing and many are inset with painted china.
We gave the monk our donation and as we were leaving he called us back and led us around to a gate. I'm guessing visitors weren't allowed in this area, as he was alone on one side and us on the other, but next to the fence was an aviary housing several baby monkeys. The monk showed us the monkeys and we fed them some corn through the bars - they were so cute and cheeky! He also bought around a cat and kittens... I love how Buddhism embraces nature. Just goes to show what a generous tip and some genuine interest can do for you lol!
I would recommend this Temple for its status and the lovely detail. Try and talk to the monks, as they definitely make things more interesting in spite of the language barrier.
The temple is open daily from 8am-5pm.
**Picture coming when I work out how to connect my camera to my computer...**
This pagoda is a little out of the way but I believe that it was worth going to. Giac Lam Pagoda was built in 1744 and is thought to be the oldest pagoda in the city. Others have described this temple as being peaceful. This is likely due to the fact that it is a little bit out of the way and thus has a relatively small number of people there for its size. 98 hardwood pillars, each inscribed with traditional characters. Ornate tombs greet visitors at the entrance to the compound, as does a gleaming white statue of Quan Thew Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy. Inside, there are photographs and portraits of monks from the past and an impressive sanctuary with countless gilded figures.
This pagoda stands in a rural setting (read a dirty road) is more than 200 years old.
The outside tombs are wirth visiting.
Inside, you see the usual mix of funeral tables and golden buddhastatues and smell the incense
Not the most beautiful in Saigon
Said to be the oldest Buddhist complex in Saigon, Giac Lam includes a pagoda, a temple, two monks' cemetaries, and an impresive new statue of the Buddha.
Comparable to the previous Giac Vien but as to me a little bit more authentic and better preserevd.
The monks didn't let us disturb their lunch and kept on eating, smiling at us