Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the many magnificent attractions in Ho Chi Minh City and an historic Buddhist pagoda; Built in 1744, it is certainly one of the oldest temples in the entire city. Listed as an historical site by the Vietnamese Department of Culture in 1988, The Giac Lam Pagoda is also known as Cam Dem and Son Can. When built it would have stood proud on its spacious plot, but the urban sprawl of Ho Chi Minh City has swelled it up, leaving it totally surrounded by walls.
Upon entering the garden, you are confronted by a large statue of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara placed under the ubiquitous bodhi tree. This is, as legend tells, the species under which Prince Siddhartha sat whilst gaining enlightenment which saw him become Gautama Buddha. This particular specimen was brought to Vietnam from Sri Lanka. It was brought by Narada, the famous 20th Sinhalese Theravada Buddhist monk. The tree arrived in Saigon in 1953. With it came a sample of the relics of Gautama Buddha.
Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the somewhat anonymous attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, Tan Binh is in no way a tourist area, but it is worth taking a taxi out to see it. It has been renovated many times, which has somewhat compromised its integrity. A five year complete rebuild was undertaken in 1799, and this was done again in 1906. The historical records of the work carried out are on display in the main hall.
There is a a rectangular 7 tier 100 foot tall stupa on the site. It was built in the 1970s and is one of the tallest Buddhist towers in the city and a noted attraction of Ho Chi Ming City.
This is a truly authentic Vietnamese Buddhist temple, and not a tourist trap. If you are coming to visit Vietnam, make sure to include the Giac Lam Pagoda on your tour of the attractions of Ho Chi Minh City.