The Xa Loi Pagoda is the largest Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. It covers an area of 2500m2. It is a storage place for the relics and antiquities of Buddhism.
The Pagoda consists of several buildings on the grounds. It is fenced off from the city and includes two main buildings, the main hall and the bell tower. Inside the yard, you can see Quan Am showing guidance and holding the elixir of life in a vase. The bell tower is one of the highest in Vietnam and consists of seven floors. It can be seen from the streets outside of the pagoda site.
The main entrance shows a shrine dedicated to the Gautama Buddha. This statue is gilded and shows the Buddha to be placed in meditation on a lotus blossom. Buddhist relics are stored in the small stupa close to Gautama Buddha.
The main hall shows panels that show fourteen scenes from the life of Gautama Buddha. These are images showing stories of his life, from his birth of Prince Siddhartha to his attainment of Nirvana. There are stories such as the Buddha’s experience walking on lotus flowers, the renouncing of secular life, and preaching a practice of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
There’s a dark shadow of recent political history in Xa Loi Pagoda. In 1963, the then President Ngo Dinh Diem amassed an armed raid of the temple. This was a response to the protests made by Buddhists who felt the President was abusing power and making purges against everything that didn’t fit his vision of a Roman Catholic Conservative world. The Monks hid behind self-made wooden shields, but this wasn’t enough to protect themselves against modern warfare such as bayonets, guns, and teargas. The pagoda was vandalized and the intact heart of Thich Quang Duc, who had self-immolated earlier that year as a protest the President’s authoritarianism, was stolen.
Xa Loi Pagoda is located at 89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, District 3. Opening hours are 06:00-11:30 and 14:00-21:00. Please wear trousers to go inside the temple.