Ho Chi Minh City has a wide variety of monuments representing different religions spread out across the city. Most visitors will be content to see those around District 1 and District 5. If you have a bit more time on your hand then a visit to the Buu Long Pagoda (Chùa Bửu Long) will take you off the proverbial beaten track.
This pagoda is in District 9 in the far east of the city. There is no convenient direct public transport from District 1, and it’s still a rural district in places. A visit to Buu Long will give you a glimpse of another side of Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh City is relatively flat, with a topography that is similar to the Mekong Delta – a plain with lots of waterways. To see any kind of hill (even a small one) stands out in this environment. The Buu Long Pagoda is on a hill that is perfect for building a pagoda on.
The pagoda is similar in style to what you see in Thailand and Myanmar. Buddhist temples in Vietnam tend to more East Asian in style with multiple stories. The temple practices the Theraveda branch of Buddhism like in Thailand (but I didn’t see any Buddhist quotes in the garden).
When I fly into SGN airport I usually get a window seat on the A-side, which gives you a city view when you land. If you are sitting on the right side of the plane you should be able to see the pagoda as it’s in the flight path.
I was the only foreigner here during my visit, and I’ve never seen it advertised as a “thing to do”. It was well-attended by weekend tourists but not over-crowded.
The temple faces the Dong Nai River, which forms the eastern boundary of District 9. On the other side of the river is Dong Nai province.
The view from the top gives you an idea of how rural District 9 still is. Looking back towards the city you can see the Landmark 81 Tower popping its head above a forest, giving a general indication of how far away you are from the Saigon River.
Behind the pagoda is a big garden you can wander around.
There is also a vegetarian restaurant onsite, offering cheap Vietnamese vegetarian meals.
How to get to Buu Long Pagoda
Address: 81 Nguyen Xien, District 9, Ho Chi Minh City
The most popular way to get here is by private bike. The route via the Hanoi Highway is the quickest, though it’s a big road so it’s noisy and stressful to ride on. If you aren’t in a hurry then taking the back roads through District 2 and 9 is an illuminating insight into a modernising city. Here you will see newly-planned cities rising amidst rice fields and fish farms.
For visitors without a bike the best way to go is to use a Grab Taxi/Motorbike. Uber has merged with Grab in Southeast Asia, so will need the Grab App in this part of the world.
The embedded map shows a route from Ben Thanh Market to Buu Long Pagoda to give you an idea of the distance.
Ryan Biddulph says
Beautiful place James! I saw so few temples during my quick trip through HCM City. I was there for a few hours, then off I went, taking the train to Danang. I need to visit the place properly down the road to soak up its intensity, and peace too. Lovely spot. Thanks for sharing 🙂
James Clark says
All the more reason to come back 🙂
I have been to HCM a couple of times and done the mostly touristy things, in and around.
I am coming back in a couple of months and would like to go out to Buu Long Pagoda not keen on Exeom so what should I be looking at paying for a car and driver for the day and any suggestions, thought I would use the District 2/9 route rather than the Highway simply to see a bit more.
And if you have any other suggestions for sights outside the city that may be worth visiting on the way there or back.
Daniel Sebold says
I have been stuck in Vietnam since March and have been up to Hue and back visiting forgotten Cham temples via Googling a map photo from the Da Nang Cham Museum. I have also done ten trips out to the Delta from everywhere between Tra Vinh and Soc Tranh in the south to the Plain Of Reeds in the north. I may just try and get an old bicycle to go out there and back and keep jt until Covid is over, if it ever gets over. I have spent way too much on mototaxis to get out to some places. Cant believe how horrid the bus system is here and how unhelpful the bus station is giving me the numbers of non existent buses.
I live in Cambodia, but love Vietnam for its funny funky people, especially its misdirecting, not having a clue where anything is people.
James Clark says
Good you have been making the most of you time here. I don’t see any improvement for the rest of the year so I have been picking out new provinces to visit. I have been hoping for a travel bubble that would include the Greater Mekong Subregion. I would gladly be able to travel between Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos for a year. Either way, I’m at least happy to be stuck here.