Phu Chau Temple in HCMC’s Go Vap District has long been known as one of the city’s most unique religious sites. The 300-year-old temple covers an entire islet of 2,500 square meters in the heart of Vam Thuat River, so it is always referred to as a floating temple.
Built under the reign of King Gia Long in the early 19th century, the temple is frequented by thousands of pilgrims and visitors from the city and neighboring areas thanks to its Chinese-influenced architectural features as well as stories attached to the spiritual life of locals.
From Go Vap Market, visitors are recommended to go straight to the end of Nguyen Thai Son Street, then turn left to Tran Ba Giao Street and drive about 200 meters where you see a small shrine on the right.
You can park your vehicle inside a location next to the shrine and take a 10-minute boat ride to the floating temple at a cost of VND10,000 per person per round trip. According to the temple keeper, the birth of the pilgrim destination is attached to a story of a fisherman who found the body of a dead woman in the river and he decided to bury her on the islet and build a temple to worship her.
The temple had deteriorated and been unoccupied for years and it was not until 1989 that a Vietnamese man of Chinese descent identified as Luc Cau donated money for the restoration of the sacred site to pray for his fruitful business. First-time comers might be strongly impressed by the elegant architecture of the temple carved with images of hundreds of dragons in different sizes and shapes on each rooftop.
Doan Thi Thanh, a 68-year-old local resident, says the temple is starting to enter its busiest time of year with spiraling incense smoke as thousands of pilgrims are flocking there every day to present offerings to the Goddesses as an expression of gratitude during the final days of the lunar year.
Huynh My Ngoc, a 24-year-old woman from the HCMC University of Architecture, says this is also the first time she has visited the floating temple with such a special terrain. “For many first-time comers like me, getting to the temple is really challenging but the magnificent beauty of the place there deserves a visit,” Ngoc added. The temple was acknowledged as Municipal Architectural Heritage site in 2010.