Previously closed or converted into schools and granaries, temples and pagodas can again welcome the faithful, although the authorities continue to closely monitor all aspects of the sacred. Offerings in the form of incense sticks play an essential role in the celebration of worship. The number of burned sticks varies depending on the occasion, but the total must always be odd. According to Vietnamese belief, odd numbers are for the dead, even numbers are reserved for the living.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the flamboyant pagoda of the Jade Emperor is one of the most fascinating. Built by Canton Buddhists who settled in Saigon, its architecture is typically modelled after southern China. In the small street called Lao Tu, Quan Am Pagoda, founded by Chinese from Fukien in 1740, is probably the oldest of all.