Located at 118 Lac Long Quan Street, Ward 10, Tan Binh District, Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the most ancient pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built in the spring of 1744 by Ly Thuy Long, a Chinese expatriate in Vietnam. The pagoda also retains many other names such as Cam Son Pagoda, Son Can Pagoda or Cam Dem Pagoda. The pagoda has undergone 3 times of its restoration in 1798-1804, 1906-1909 and 1999 since its establishment. Giac Lam Pagoda is home to contain valuable materials on the history, culture, religious architecture and sculpture which has long been one of the unique attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
Giac Lam Pagoda attracts tourists at home and abroad thanks to the unique architectural ensemble and numerous rare antique artifacts preserved over 200 years. The special highlight of the pagoda is the complex of towers built in the early 19th century. The pagoda currently retains 38 multi-sized towers. Most of the towers are built based on the architectural style of the ethnic groups living in the South such as Khmer, Vietnamese or Cham... in combination with some Western elements (France) and the Oriental (China, India) to beautify its uniqueness and perfection. These towers are the most vivid witness for the development of Buddhism in the South over time. Discovering Giac Lam Pagoda is definitely one of the most things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
As one of the most famous Ho Chi Minh City pagodas, Giac Lam Pagoda's architecture is considered to be typical of the architectural style of pagodas in Southern Vietnam with its overall ground styled "Tam" (Three) letter in kanji. The pagoda owns rectangular shape insisting of the 3 layers: the sanctum, the lecture hall and monk area, not including extra houses. The sanctum of the pagoda is built in the traditional folk style with 1 compartment, 2 wings and 4 main pillars. It is home to many horizontal lacquered boards red lacquer trimmed with gold elaborately carved with a variety of topics and genres. The pagoda possesses 2 three-entrance gates. The old gate was built in 1955. The new one was constructed in 1999 close to Lac Long Quan Street, which is far about 80m from the old gate. These 2 gates overlook southward. In 2007, the pagoda began its construction of the lecture hall and monk area.
In front of the pagoda is a hexagon-shaped 7 storey sarira stupa. Its construction was started in 1970 under architect Vinh Hoang's drawings. After a hiatus, it continued its construction in 1993. The sanctum is relatively wide and deep with many big pillars carved parallel sentences with gold letters. Among rows of the pillar is reliefs carved the decorative traditional topics such as 9 dragons, sacred animals... gorgeously decorated. It also house numerous large beautiful statues, namely Buddha Amitabha, Buddha Shakyamuni, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Strength Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva... These unique architectural features contributes to promote Giac Lam Pagoda to become one of the fascinating Ho Chi Minh City attractions.
Giac Lam Pagoda has stored 118 statues (including 106 wooden statues, 7 bronze ones and 5 cement ones), 113 of which are antique statues. Among them, statues of 18 Arhats, 10 Kings, Buddha and his disciples have caught the most attention of tourists. Particularly, the statues of 18 Arhats are clear proofs for the development of Buddhism in the South Vietnam. It can be said that these statues have added a scientific proof of inheriting, promoting and innovating new style in sculpting technologies in the South in the 18th and 19th century. Tourists participating in Ho Chi Minh City travel should once set foot on Giac Lam Pagoda to discover all these unique features.
As a national-level cultural - historical relics, Giac Lam Pagoda annually welcomes millions of domestic and international tourists to worship, research and ascertain about. Immersed in pure scenery of the pagoda and exploring the unique architectural style, the journey of discovering Saigon travel will become much more memorable for tourists. Giac Lam Pagoda has thus significantly contributed in promoting Ho Chi Minh City tourism to international friends.