1. Overview of Ong temple
The Mekong Delta is not only well-known for eco-tourism destinations but also religious places. Typically, Ong temple, known as the Canton Assembly Hall of Can Tho, is one of the most sacred and popular temples in Cantho and the region. Many tourists and local people come here to pray for happiness, wealth, and peace. Although the cultural place has existed for over 120 years, people preserve its ancient Chinese architecture as the original status of the cultural place. Especially, in 1993, it was recognized as a national cultural and historical relic.
It’s easy to find the Ong temple because it is located right in the center of Cantho city. The area is very bustling with tourist and trading activities. In detail, its location is in the Ninh Kieu Wharf with the address: 32 Hai Ba Trung Street, Tan An ward, Ninh Kieu District, Cantho and it usually opens from 7 am to 6 p.m every day.
How can visitors get to Ong temple?
From the center of Cantho city, visitors should move to Mau Than street. Go along the street until you see the traffic light, then turn left to 30/4 street and go straight to Hoa Binh Avenue. Then, Hai Ba Trung street is on your right. They can park their motorbikes or cars in the parking area near the destination. Remember that you need to pay for parking but no fees for entering Ong temple.
2. The history of Ong temple
A group of Chinese people coming from Guangdong moved and did business in Cantho from the 17th to 18th centuries. Then, they started constructing the temple in 1894, and the whole construction was completed in 1896. The site does not have a stele written the names of its establishers like other temples and pagodas. However, visitors can see the names of the artisans of the wooden plaques, a pair of vases, and donators donating to it.
The original name of Ong temple
At first, the original name of Ong temple was the Canton Assembly Hall of Can Tho or Minh Huong temple. This means the place where Chinese compatriots meet and support each other when they lived in different regions. After that, people called it “Ong temple” because the site worships Guan Yu – Emperor Guan.
Why do they worship Guan Yu?
Guan Yu is one of the greatest generals in Chinese history; particularly, he served under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. People admired him because of his loyalty courage, studious mind, and power. With his power, he could win an army of thousands of soldiers.
In businesses, traders consider Guan Yu as a symbol of trustworthiness and the guardian of their reputation. Moreover, the mighty general is also a defender of brotherhood and loyalty. As a result, they believe that Ong temple will bring happiness, wealth, and peace to their business and lives.
3. The architecture has the flavor of Chinese culture
Because of its origin, Ong temple features the typical Chinese temple with elegant and radiational beauty. After the construction was completed in 1894, people preserved its original architecture to express their respect. The entire architecture describes the shape of the letter “國” meanings “country”. In addition, it consists of closed rows of houses which is perpendicular to each other.
Similar to Thien Hau pagoda, there is a sky well in the middle of the temple and space. The sky-well will bring more lights and fresh air into the solemn atmosphere of the place. More importantly, it eases the smell of the burning incense inside the place and makes visitors feel relaxed and peaceful.
Exterior – The outstanding appearance of Ong temple
The gate and fence
The exterior of Ong temple looks cheerful and colorful but still solemn and sacred. Especially, the place doesn’t follow the three-arched gate but has the only entrance with a horizontal lacquered board and red lanterns on top. In front of it, there is a gate and fence with painted columns connected by iron bars. The two biggest columns have a couple of unicorns, figures, and fish turning into dragons.
The ancient Chinese architecture reflects on the roof tiled with dark green glazed edges following the yin and yang design. Moreover, people use statues of dragons, figures, and fish turning into dragons, phoenixes, etc to decorate the roof. Moreover, these statues are all made from ceramics with different colors. Especially, the roof has statues of people holding the moon and the sun representing the yin and yang. Under the dome, there are 6 rows of wooden columns and red square ones. The feet of the columns are from monolithic stone with a complex truss system.
Interior – Worshipping many statues of great gods of Chinese culture
The front hall
Stepping through the narrow yard is the front hall. Visitors can see a folding screen carved with sophisticated details. The center of the hall contains a wooden board with the names of the temple. The left of the hall worships General Ma Tien and the red horse and the right part worships Phuc Duc Chinh Than (also known as Ong Bon). People put the statues of other mighty gods from ancient times inside the front hall.
The main hall
The most important part of the Ong temple is the main hall. In detail, the trusses consist of crossbeams that overlap each other. People worship Guan Yu (the Chinese god of war) to express their respect and gratitude for his contribution and support. Besides, there are statues of poinsettia Dong Vinh and Tai Bach Tinh Quan (also known as Than Tai). The right part is worshipping the empress of heaven – Mazu, who is the God of the Sea. In addition, the temple also worships Bodhisattva Quan Am.
Especially, the reliefs, including envelopes, diaphragms, contraptions, etc lie almost everywhere in the temple. The artisans use quotes from Chinese myth and history to emboss into the arts. Besides, many artworks such as bronze bells, horizontal lacquered boards, and parallel sentences are carved with submerging carving techniques taking a lot of effort and time. These pieces of art proved the talents of carving and calligraphical arts of artisans at that time.
4. What visitors can do in Ong temple
Attending cultural and religious festivals
In addition, to discover the Ong temple’s architecture, visitors will have the opportunity to attend Chinese cultural festivals. One of the most attractive festivals here is the Ong temple festival, the main cultural event among the Hoa people. It takes place on June 24th (Lunar Calendar) every year. The other festivals are the empress of heaven festival occurring on March 23rd (Lunar calendar), and the Ong Bon festival on March 15th.
Moreover, Ong temple also organizes a lantern competition every ten years. On this occasion, the most beautiful lanterns will be auctioned to donate to support unlucky people. In addition, during the festival, there are also fun activities such as lion dance, dragon dance, martial arts competition, Quang Trieu theater performance, etc. People and Buddhists attending the festival will dress politely, light incense sticks, and offer offerings to the gods to pray for peace and prosperity in the family.
Resorting to sortilege to pray for peace and happiness
Existing for many years, Ong temple is well-known for its sacred sortilege. The messages inside the sortilege are sacred and become the guidance for prayers’ lives. Many pilgrims and prayers in Vietnam come here to resort to sortilege and pray for peace and happiness for themselves and their families.
5. Visiting other nearby destinations in Cantho
Because the temple’s situation is right on Ninh Kieu Wharf, it is near many other places of interest in Cantho that tourists can explore. Here are some suggestions that Mekong Smile Tour suggests to you!
Cantho Museum is just a few miles from Ong temple, which stores many important historical artifacts of Cantho and Vietnam. Visiting the museum, visitors can discover the origin, history, and culture of Cantho, as well as the Kinh, Khmer, and Chinese customs and traditions.
Address: 1 Đại lộ Hoà Bình, Tân An, Ninh Kiều, Cần Thơ
Cantho pedestrian bridge
Cantho pedestrian bridge, one of the features of Cantho, is just a few miles from Ong temple. This is an ideal place for taking photos or wandering to admire the natural and poetic landscapes of the Ninh Kieu Wharf. Many visitors enjoy walking through the bridge and watching a view of Cantho’s bridge from here.
Address: Tan Anh Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Cantho City
Cantho ancient market
Cantho ancient market was built in 1915 and experienced many times changing names. The architecture of the market is charming and elegant with the French and Vietnamese styles. This is a bustling trading hub where traders from many places gather and sell their goods. After many restorations, the architecture of the ancient market remains unchanged. Apart from selling silk or cloth, many traditional handicraft products and souvenirs are available here. The market opens from 6 am to 10 pm.
Address: Can Tho Market, Hai Ba Trung Street, Tan An Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Cantho City
Cantho night market and street food
Cantho night market is opposite the Ancient market and attracts a lot of visitors. Many fashions and food stalls are gathering around the area. Local people also call the market “Ham Duong market” or “Luc Tinh market” – the night market of six provinces. The market includes two separate sections. The first section is to sell clothes, especially customized T-shirts. The other is for delicious street food such as sticky rice, coconut ice cream, pancakes, and others. Visiting the night market will be a great experience for every tourist. The market will serve visitors from 5 pm to 11 pm.
Address: Corner of Hai Ba Trung and Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Tan An Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City.
Military Zone 9 Museum
The Military Zone 9 Museum, also known as the provincial museum, displays tanks, cannons, and wartime aircraft in Vietnam. The museum preserves many valuable historical artifacts, documents, and events of the army force in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam war. If visitors would like to visit the museum, remember that it opens only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Particularly, the Military Zone 9 Museum opens from 8 am to 11 am and from 2 pm to 4 pm. However, on Saturday the museum opens from 8:00 am to 11:00 am, and from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Address: 6 Hoa Binh Avenue, Ninh Kieu District, Cantho City
Phat Hoc Pagoda
Phat Hoc pagoda is a well-known pagoda worshipping Mahayana Buddhism in Cantho. Noticeably, its architectural style is ancient and elegant with a long history of establishment, so it attracts many visitors. Although its location is right at the heart of the city, the tranquility and sacredness of the pagoda are intact.
Address: 34 Hoa Binh Avenue, Tan An Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Cantho City.
Can Tho tours you may also like:
- Can Tho floating market tour & small canal: 5:30 A.M – 8:30 A.M.
- Cai Rang floating market tour: 5:30 A.M – 11:30 A.M.
- Can Tho full day tour: 5:30 AM – 2:30 P.M.
- Cai Rang floating market tour and Cooking class: 6:00 A.M – 3:00 P.M.
- Can Tho boat tour: 6:00 A.M – 10:00 A.M.
- Can Tho River Tour: 5:30 AM – 9:30 A.M.
- Can Tho Sunset tour: 4:30 P.M – 6:30 P.M.
- Scenic small canal tour: 8:30 A.M – 11:30 A.M or 2:30 P.M – 5:30 P.M.