Noted for the sacred Ba Den (Black Lady) Mountain and the headquarters of the Cao Dai religion, the southeastern province of Tay Ninh has transformed from a once-fierce battleground to an alluring tourist destination awaiting pilgrims and lovers of culture and nature.

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Ba Den Mountain

A visit to Tay Ninh, located about 100km from HCM City and 170km from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, can be easily arranged by car, bus or motobike from neighbouring localities in the southeast region.

Lying in the middle of a fertile plain, Ba Den Mountain covered with white clouds nearly year-round is one of three mountains in the Ba Den Mountain Relic and Cultural complex: Ba Den Mountain at a height of 986 metres above sea level, Phung (Phoenix) Mountain and Heo (Pig) Mountain.

The 300-year-old Ba (Lady) Temple was built on the mountainside of Ba Den Mountain, a sacred place for Buddhists. It attracts thousands of pilgrims headed for the temple to pray for peace, good fortune and prosperity.

The busiest times of the year for pilgrimages are the first lunar month during the Ba Den Mountain Spring Festival and the 5th to 6th day of the fifth lunar month for Black Lady's birthday anniversary.

Hoa Dong Temple, Hang Temple, Quan Am Temple and Trung Temple with distinct architectural styles are scattered around Ba Den's mountainside.

Tran Thi Tu Uyen, a young woman from HCM City, says that Ba Den Mountain is an ideal spot for a weekend escape from busy city life.

“Sitting on the top of the mountain is really a fantastic experience. There’s a great view of the fertile plain and lakes below,” Uyen says. "It is a perfect place to take pictures with spectacular 360-degree views."

Taking a trip on the cable cars to the mountaintop to catch a stunning panoramic view is a great relief from the hotter weather of the city. It takes only six minutes to the Ba Temple and eight minutes to get to the Ba Den mountaintop by cable car. Visitors can also trek on the footpath to the top of the mountain, which takes at least two hours.

Cao Dai Tay Ninh Holy See

Also not to be missed on a visit to Tay Ninh is the Cao Dai Tay Ninh Holy See, 5km away from Tay Ninh Town, the headquarters of the Cao Dai religion known as Caodaism.

The giant, bright temple which was built in 1931 and officially inaugurated in 1955 is the most important shrine for the religion’s four million followers.

The Caodai Archbishop of Tay Ninh Holy See, Ngoc Hong Thanh, said the Holy See, with its western and eastern architectural style, has become a popular tourist attraction in Tay Ninh, drawing 100-200 foreign tourists a day.

It is worth visiting during prayer sessions. The session at noon is most popular with tour groups, according to a local tour guide.

 

Dai Le Duc Chi Ton, the festival to commemorate God the Father on the 9th day of the first lunar month, and Hoi Yen Dieu Tri, the festival to commemorate the Holy Goddess Mother on the 15th day of the lunar August, are the two largest festivals of Caodaism.

The festivals feature a variety of artistic performances such as the four sacred animal (dragon, kylin, tortoise, phoenix) dances at parades, performances of traditional musical instruments, and Cao Đài vegetarian dishes processed and decorated in a unique way.

The religious events attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists at home and abroad every year.

During the anti-American war, the Central Party Committee Office for South Vietnam, or the Central Office for South Vietnam, was moved to the northern Tay Ninh resistance base. The location is now recognised a special national historical relic.

The relic, 60km away from Tay Ninh Town, in the pristine forest is a reminder of days of hardship, incredible bravery and an unbeatable spirit of liberation fighters.

The Central Office for South Vietnam was the "nerve centre" that led the South Vietnam revolution from the first days of the Vietnamese people's resistance war against foreign invasion.

Le Truong Hoang Nam from Vietravel says the relic is included on tours that offer an in-depth look into some of Việt Nam’s most interesting historical sites in the south.

Regional linkages

The province shares a 240km border with Cambodia, with two international border checkpoints -- Moc Bai and Xa Mat -- where international tourists can enter.

Nguyen Hong Thanh, director of the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, says the province offers an abundance of activities, including spiritual tours, wildlife tours at the Lo Go-Xa Mat National Park, eco-tours at Ma Thien Lanh Valley and sites along Vam Co Dong and Sai Gon rivers, and tours to historical relics.

The diverse cuisine in Tay Ninh is also a delight, with specialities such as bánh tráng phơi sương Trang Bang (Trang Bang dew-wetted rice paper), Tay Ninh veal, shrimp chilli salt, and sweet fragrant Ba Den custard-apples.

In the province's Trang Bang District, the traditional craft of making rice paper has been recognised as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

To appeal to more visitors, Tay Ninh will continue to diversify its tourism products and services and strengthen linkages in the southeast region comprising HCM City and Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Phuoc provinces.

VNS

Exploring Ba Den mountain in Tay Ninh

Exploring Ba Den mountain in Tay Ninh

Ba Den (Black Lady) Mountain is an iconic tourist attraction in the southern province of Tay Ninh. The complex, which is also a famous spiritual site as it contains the Linh Son Tien Thach pagoda, attracts millions of visitors every year.

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