Ho Chi Minh City

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Otherwise known as the “Tortoise Pagoda,” this temple is one of the most prominent shrines in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tortoises at the Tortoise Pagoda

Like most Vietnamese towns, Ho Chi Minh City has a wealth of temples. But Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most popular for locals and travelers alike. Built in the early 1900s, this weathered red building houses many beautiful Taoist statues. But the biggest attraction for visitors is probably the temple’s resident turtles.

A Place of Worship

The temple’s courtyard is large, shaded with old, leafy trees and other plant life. At the center of the courtyard stands a pond filled with fish. The turtles and tortoises can be found in the two smaller ponds near the entrance, gliding through the water or sunning themselves on the rocks. Unlike at zoos, feeding the animals is encouraged.

Inside the temple, visitors will find elaborately carved statues of the Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang and the fertility goddess Kim Hua, among others. People still actively worship at the temple, so visitors should be quiet and respectful. There’s no entrance fee, but there are plenty of opportunities to make donations.