Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Van Duc Temple, Thu Duc, Ho Chi Minh City - Places to Visit in Vietnam

If you are planning a holiday to Vietnam then you should definitely put aside a morning or afternoon while you are in Ho Chi Minh City in order to visit Thu Duc. Thu Duc is a fascinating place.
It is a vast geographic area, almost a city in itself, though it is classified as one of the districts of Ho Chi Minh City. It has always been something of a poor cousin, home to slums and sub-standard housing, though in recent years this seems to be changing, and Thu Duc's proximity to central Saigon (it's just across the river) is seeing it become increasingly prosperous.
One of the places I use as a gauge of that prosperity is Van Duc Temple.

I first visited the temple in the late 90s and it was a very humble affair indeed, despite being the home of the then most senior Buddhist master in Vietnam, The Most Venerable Thich Tri Tinh. It was dusty and a little ramshackle, having been originally constructed in 1954. The large and quite unique satue of Kwan Yin (Quan The Am, the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Mercy) was already in place, but she was installed on quite a shoddy and tacky little stand in the middle of a sad and muddy pond.
Van Duc has undergone quite a renovation.

The same statue is now housed in a solid and ornate construction, and the temple's main prayer hall is cavernous, with incredibly high ceilings and the capacity to seat hundreds of worshippers.

There is a large monastic community, and the surrounding area is home to many different Buddhist temples, as well as a Benedictine monastery of some note.

If you keep walking down the Tinh Lo 43 (the name of the road the temple is on) and turn down the first No. 7 Road (there are actually two No. 7 Roads, one after the other) you will see a collection of 7 or 8 tiny temples crammed onto a single country laneway. I have no idea why this is, but there is obviously some historic reason for it.


Van Duc Temple (Chua Van Duc)
502 Tinh Lo 43
Khu Pho 5
P. Tam Phu
Q. Thu Duc
Ho Chi Minh City

The temple is about a 20 minute taxi ride from downtown Saigon.
It might be best to get the taxi to wait for you while you explore, as there aren't many taxis in this area.

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