Temples and pagodas in Hoi An

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Last Updated on 3 years by Tam Le Van

Visiting religious buildings is a good way to expand our horizon about local spiritual life, architectural and artistic characters as well as history of their owners. Photography lovers also take lots of opportunities to record the most honest slices of life that rare to find in well-known sightseeing places or tourist areas.

As a rich history city, Hoi An boasts of its collection of temples and pagodas that many of them contribute to the outstanding universal values of the Old town to be registered as a World heritage site. HOI AN LIFE outlines all noticeable places in this article to make you easier to select your most prefering sites to go.

Variety of temples in Hoi An

Ever been a major international trading port of South-East Asia from 15th to 19th centuries, no doubt, Hoi An is the place where people coming from different parts of the world willing to live for business opportunity. Besides Vietnamese on-site community, Chinese, Japanese, French, Portugese and Dutch accompanied with Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Caodaism and folk beliefs arrived Hoi An over time. Each one established its own sacrifies in order to serve religious needs as well as missionary activities. After Hoi An’s leading role in maritime trade stopped, the owners of these monuments also left. Only small number of persons stayed back and kept their ‘life’ being continued. Present-day descendants are highly responsible for preserving the ancestor’s heritage.

Hoi An is among few cities across Vietnam you can see almost of all major religions in Vietnam.

Things you need to know before visit Hoi An’s pagodas

Covering armpits and knees is a must when come into any Hoi An’s Buddhist pagodas. This gets strict in worshipping zone like Buddha hall or houses where monks live. In reality, local people feel very bad if they themselves do not comply well the regulation. To keep the sacredness, you’re also advised to make no noise and walk gently during visit around.

Taking off shoes before come into praying area is popular at the bulk of Hoi An’s pagodas. Unlike facilities of several religions, you do not need to wash your feet, hands or faces.

Additionally, giving damage on everything (notably sacred objects) is an action locals traditionally avoids. However, interestingly locals pick young leaves of tree growing in the pagoda right after New year eve to get fortune (young leaves represent the development as well). At the moment, this is not recommended.

Vietnamese temples in Hoi An

Cao Dai temple

Formation of Caodaism in Vietnam

Caodaism is an idigenous religion of Vietnamese and bases in Tay Ninh province (South Vietnam). The first believer was Mr.Ngo Van Chieu who had contribution to its official establishement in 1926 (with several figures). The religion itself owns elements from Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, or Confucianism because Caodaism founders think that untimately all the same. Evidently, temples of this network of philosophies and practices have a church-like appearance, image of Jesus, Buddhism icons, presence of Taoism saint, etc.

At the moment, there are five major religions in Vietnam: Buddhism, Catholicism, Island, Hoa hao Buddhism and Caodaism.

Tay Ninh holy see: the most important Cao dai temple

For Caodaists, Toa Thanh Tay Ninh holy see has the largest importance (as the headquarter of the religion). Its construction starts from 1933 and ends at 1947. By reasons, until 1955 the opening ceremony took place. Original design of the holy see was of greater scale and of more invested decorations than current one but it had to be reduced because the followers faced the difficulty in finance. Finally, their dream building completed without any more troubles.

Present-day Toa Thanh Tay Ninh boasts grand and glorious East-west mixed architecture that make visitors wow at first sights. All of its 100 structures is set up harmoniously within an extensive urban area of Hoa Thanh town (formerly forest). Not only sacred site for Caodaists and believers, it’s also a tourist attraction. Day tours to this prominent site and Cu Chi tunnels are always popular choices to holiday makers staying in Ho Chi Minh city.

Hoi An’s Cao Dai temple and its time of ceremony

Address: 88 Hung Vuong street (near Blue Lotus Leather workshop), Cam PhoOpening hours: All-day but ceremony times are most possible
Ticket required: no

Hoi An’s Cao Dai temple was built in 1950s on donated lands of the followers (located near Nguyen Tuong family’s chapel in Old town previously). It features colorful and ornate architecture that easy to notice from distance. You have no challange to find out the images of Jesus, Great Buddha, Lady Buddha, Confucius on the main entrance and its two towers. Interior space is the world of dragons, cloud and universe. Keep in mind that right-hand side door is for male, another is for female and tourists are only allowed walk along temple’s wall instead of middle way.

Day to day, there are four ceremonies held in Hoi An’s Cao Dai temples at 12 a.m, 6 a.m, 12 p.m and 6 p.m. Caodaists have to participate at least one (praying at home allowed) and must wear white-colored clothes (black dresses prohibited). In the past, non-Caodaists could not have the chance to see the ceremonies but it’s different today. In other words, you’re accepted to witness but must follow regulations such as standing in a separate area or keep silence during whole time the ceremony occurs. Midday is the popular choice of many Caodaism followers because of convenience.

Family-cult temples inside Hoi An ancient town

Nha tho toc Tran (Tran family’s chapel)

Address: 21 Le Loi street (or the intersection of Le Loi and Phan Chu Trinh streets), the Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 9 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Tran family’s chapel was built by Mr.Tran Tu Nhac at the beginning of 1800s to workship his ancestor over generations and to be a meeting place between members within important ceremonies. 70% of current Tran family are Buddhism followers so you may see Buddha altar inside its inner spaces. In comparison to other cultural buildings around Hoi An Ancient Town, it owns lots of green trees and a piece of land where people bury baby belly button after birth (show close connection between new born and her/him root). To sightsee, you have to get a ticket with price of 120.000 VND (to see all related information here).

Nha tho toc Nguyen Tuong (Nguyen Tuong family’s chapel)

Address: 8 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai (near Japanese covered bridge), the Old townOpening hours: 8 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

None of Nguyen Tuong family members make sure about exact establishing date of their ancestor chapel (just know in 1900s). It faces the South which direction is always prefered by Vietnamese to construct a building traditionally. Accordingly, people staying inside this old temple is able to avoid cold winds flowing from the North in wintertime and enjoy cool breezes during summer. Its decorations follow tightly ideas inspired by folk stories and tales that make it become an ideal place to know Vietnamese spiritual life formerly. As same as Tran family’s temple, you have to buy a ticket if want to see around this site. Browse our article http://hoianlife.net/hoi-an-ancient-town-ticket-and-included-sitess-complete-guide/ to know full information about it.

Before Chu quoc ngu (Vietnam national language) invented, Vietnamese used Chinese popularly during many centuries. For that reason, you will see them anywhere when visit Nguyen Tuong family’s temple.

Khong Tu Mieu Hoi An (Confucius temple)

Address: 126 Tran Hung Dao street, Cam PhoOpening hours: 8 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: no

Built in on current location, Hoi An’s Confucius temple functioned not only a place of worshipping Confucius (prominent Chinese philosopher-politican living from 551 to 479 BC) but also an education center for whole province of Quang Nam. After many damages in wars, it’s reconstructed in 1961 to bear honor to historic heroes, talents and famous educators.

There is no parking services at this temple therefore you should prepare your bicycle’s lock for its security. Make sure everything is fine once walk in. Additionally, you are able to join in steps to make handicraft things like lanterns with local disabled artisans and have the chance to find out lovely gifts to bring back home at the Smile House (next to the Main hall).

While Hanoi’s Temple of Literature brings classic Vietnamese traditions in architecture, Confucius Temple of Hoi An introduces another style which is more state-of-the-art to our era (quite similar to the latest building in Hue).

Hoi An’s Chinese assembly halls and temples

Cantonese assembly hall (Quang Dong temple)

Address: 176 Tran Phu street (near Japanese covered bridge), the Old townOpening hours: 8 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

This 19th-century assembly hall functioned to worship Thien Hau goddess and Confucius before changed to Quan Cong and community’s ancestors in 1911. Besides that, it also served as a meeting place in important events for all Cantonese who moved to Hoi An to look for business opportunity. These roles are still well-kept by different generations of the community up to the present.

About the architecture, Hoi An Cantonese assembly hall encompasses a three-arch gate, main entrance, two west&east houses and central temple hall arranged on a straight North-South axis. Between second and third buildings, there is the open-air yard centered by ‘fish transforming into dragon’ imaged structure (with purpose in study promotion). At its back, you have time for immersing yourself in a garden with trees and colorful flowers. See our article here to know full-packaged information about Hoi An Ancient Town ticket by which you are able to visit around this must-see attraction.

By its convenient position and priceless values, Cantonese Assembly Hall is one of the most visited sites within Hoi An ancient town. From it, Hoi An museum of Sa Huynh culture, must-see Japanese covered bridge, old houses of Phung Hung, Duc An and Tan Ky are in walking distance.

Fukian assembly hall (Phuc Kien temple)

Address: 46 Tran Phu street (near Hoi An central market)Opening hours: 7 a.m to 5:30 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Fukian assembly hall was set up by rich merchants for bearing honor to Thien Hau goddess (patron deity for fishermans, long-distance traders and seafarers) as well as their ancestors (first persons came to Hoi An for living). For that reason, Vietnamese call this magnificent monument as ‘Goddess temple’. On 23rd day of 3rd month in lunar calendar, Fukian Chinese host a solemn ritual to pay homage to her with numerous featured customs.

From outside, you will see a three-arch gate with four Chinese (name of the building) first and ticket check-point to righ hand side. Then there is the richly-decorated main entrance which usually is in the lens of every traveler. None of Hoi An’s assembly hall offers the same quality of details, especially about workmanship. Formerly, its owners hired skillful artisans to create all these works.

Temple zone includes a door monument, two halls used for worship and two houses for supporting functions. Particularly, Chinese Fukian venerates Thien Hau goddess within its first (or central) hall and God of wealth, three Fukian heroes of Ming dynasty plus twelve ladies of month in the back hall. In fact, Vietnamese approach this religous building to pray as well, besides Chinese descendants.

A Vietnamese Buddhist temple had ever existed in Fukian Assembly Hall’s current location. Its name was Kim Son (meaning golden mountain) what engraved on back of the building’s main entrace to memorize.

Chinese all-community assembly hall (Trung Hoa temple)

Address: 64 Tran Phu street, the Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Although each community (each province) has its own assembly hall, Chinese living in Hoi An also built another one for all in 1741. Importantly, this building is used for education activities to young generations about their ancestor cultures and ways of life. Nowadays, it functions as a Chinese teaching center (free of charge) for descendants who use modern Vietnamese as main language. In its central hall, sea patron goddess-Thien Hau, God of wealth and Lady Buddha are worshipped.

Historically, five different Chinese communities lived in Hoi An as Cantonese, Fukian, Hainan, Chaozhou and Gia Ung. The last one is very small so shared spaces of All-community assembly hall for its activities.

Chaozhou assembly hall (Trieu Chau temple)

Address: 157 Nguyen Duy Hieu street, the Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Chaozhou Assembly Hall worships Ma Yuan (military general and politican, 14 BC-49 AD) whose power enable to control forces of sea waves and winds helping merchants keep their safety plus smoothness of their goods. Moreover, God of wealth and Thien Hau goddess present in its central hall where traditionally main gods honored. Although position in Hoi An Ancient Town designated area, it’s much more quite in comparison to other of its kind. You will pay 120.000 VND for entrance ticket if want to visit this old-aged assembly hall (including four other sites/folk performances). Browse our article here for further details.

Hainan assembly hall (Hai Nam temple)

Address: 10 Tran Phu street, the Old town Opening hours: 7 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Built in 1875 and largely reconstructed in 1931, Hainan Assembly Hall pays homage to one-hundred-and-three persons passed away in a mistaken attack on sea (because royal army suspected them as pirates). On later time, the kings made sense and accepted errors on behalf of his subordinators. He requested building a temple to worship them permenantly. Hainan Assembly Hall follows traditional layout and every typical characteristics of a Chinese religious establishment. Its collection of decoration motifs is one of the most diverse one in topic. Like other assembly halls, you have to get Hoi An Ancient Town ticket if like to see this edifice.

Quancong temple (Chua Ong)

Address: 24 Tran Phu street, the Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 6 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Quan Cong (Guan Yu) is an eminent military general lived in 3rd century who features bravery, calmness, honesty and good decision making. He (and Thien Hau goddess) usually go with Chinese steps to a new land. That is reason why anywhere they live, we see a couple of temples venerating to them. They protect all member of the community from bad spirits as well as bring fortune in their business life.

17th-century Hoi An’s Quan Cong temple is sited in front of Hoi An central market and next to Chua Quan Am pagoda. Its main entrance draw many photograph lovers who like to own pictures with a majestic background of dragons. When come inside, interior furnitures of the temple make people quickly impressive of their elaborate beauty (traders usually donate to pay homage to Guan Yu god). To visit, you have to buy Hoi An Ancient Ticket with a price of 120.000 VND. It covers other sites as well, only this place.

Xuandi god temple inside Japanese covered bridge

Address: Japanese covered bridge (the intersection between Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Tran Phu streets), the Old town Openinghours: 7 a.m to 9 p.m (or no more tourist)
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Chinese built this Taoism Xuandi god temple at the same time with reconstruction works of Japanese covered bridge. At its entrance, a couple of sacred wooden eyes is arranged to fence evil spirits coming inside (able to see this unique character at Hoi An’s old houses). Central position of the temple is the god altar with glorious furnitures and objects of worship. Most special one among them is an intricate black-bronze statue of Xuandi who controls flooding and natural disasters from the river. At both right-hand and left-hand sides, there are photos about Japanese covered bridge in the past.

Chinese ancestor temple (Tuy Tien Duong Minh Huong)

Address: 14 Tran Phu street, the Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 5 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Skilled craftmans from Kim Bong carpentry village created this Chinese ancestor temple in 18th century and restored it several times over centuries. Its main direction faces to the river and Tran Phu street-the first commercial street which is rarely covered by flooding (that is the reason why all religious buildings of Chinese line this road). Historically, it stands at the heart of former Minh Huong village (Chinese village).

Pagodas in Hoi An

Chua Chuc Thanh-the oldest pagoda of Hoi An

Address: 104 Ton Duc Thang street, Tan AnOpening hours: 7 a.m to 8 p.m
Ticket required: no

This Buddhism sacred site is established in 17th century by Linji school’s monks. Its position was quite far away to trading streets of Hoi An town so very appropriate to Buddha teaching practices and activities. All main halls own the architectural style harmoniously mixed between Vietnamese and Chinese traditions. In 1st and 15th days each lunar month, there are lots of local people coming here to pray for good healthy, advantages in business, fortune for furture works and more.

Chua Phap Bao

Address: 7 Hai Ba Trung street (the intersection of Hai Ba Trung and Phan Chu Trinh streets), the Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 8 p.m
Ticket required: no

Phap Bao pagoda is the headquarter of Hoi An’s Buddhist association. For that reason, it’s the place where the bulk of important events of this happen. Most specially, Buddha birthday and Tet (Vietnamese new year festival) show us epic celebrations as well as very invested decorations. You do not have to buy Hoi An Ancient Town ticket to sightsee this newly reconstructed pagoda.

Chua Quan Am (Lady Buddha pagoda)

Address: 13 Nguyen Hue street, Old townOpening hours: 7 a.m to 6 p.m
Ticket required: yes (a part of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket)

Vietnamese Lady Buddha pagoda is next to Chinese Quancong temple telling us long-time relationship between two communities in Hoi An. It’s constructed at least from 17th century by wealthy merchants and Buddhism followers who believe that its figure of worship would patronize them on sea.

Take off your shoes if want to come in main Buddha hall of Chua Quan Am. Moreover, you’re advised seeing its brother-Quancong temple at the same time.

Chua Hai Tang pagoda in Cham islands

Address: Hon Lao, Cham islandsOpening hours: All day
Ticket required: yes (as a part of Cham islands ticket fare)

Located in the heart of the largest member of Cham islands, 18th-century Hai Tang pagoda showcases its importance in local spiritual life. Once set sail for new fish harvest, every fisherman come here to pray and wish for a safe and sound journey ahead. Additionally, they still believe that the seasickness will stop if someone drink water from a well nearby and go to this sacred site to pray. Because of its architectural and historical values, there is worth it to visit.

All Cham islands day tours take you here (with other sites) during their first parts in the morning. In case a self-guided trip, Hai Tang pagoda is very convenient to aproach due to it’s close by main harbour where boat passengers land first. If stay overnight in Bai Lang village, you have the chance to see it anytime in a walking distance. To know how you can approach Cham islands, browse http://hoianlife.net/hoi-an-islands-cam-nam-cam-kimcu-lao-cham/ to get further information.

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Tam Le Van

Tam is a tour leader and passionate traveler who has beautiful memories over 50 provinces of Vietnam. During the time Corona virus spreads out globally, he decides to become a blogger to share his experiences.
Contacts for work: Levantam0906@gmail.com or (+84) 968009827

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