Ba Thien Hau Temple in Saigon is a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess, Mazu. It’s believed that she protects and rescues ships and people on the sea by flying around on a mat or cloud. Mazuism is connected with traditions and beliefs from both Taoism and Buddhism. Mazuism is therefore an incorporation of different aspects and traditions which have merged to form a new belief. You will find this temple in ‘Cholon’ (Chinatown) in District 5, which is roughly a twenty minute drive from the city centre.
Ba Thien Hau temple was built in 1760 to honour Mazu the ‘Lady of the Sea’ and when you enter through the iron gate you will see massive stone incense burners in front of the entrance of Mazu’s altar. The exterior is beautifully designed with the traditional curvy roof on which small porcelain figures are standing symbol for themes from Chinese religion and legends.
The interior has colourful dioramas decorating the roof by representing scenes from the nineteenth century in a Chinese city. Besides this, the most prominent visible interior design items are the three statues of the ‘Lady of the Sea’ that dominate the main altar. When visiting make sure you take your time to look at all the small corners this temple has, as there are many sculptures, statues and artworks to discover.