Tay Ninh Province - Why not?
Let's ride there!
Known as Raung Damrey as a former Khmer territory, Tay Ninh is around 100km away from Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City in the Northwest by the 22nd Highway. The province has a population of roughly 1 million over an area of about 4,000 km2 . It borders on Cambodia through 2 international border gates, namely Moc Bai and Xa Mat, and other national gates including Chang Riec, Ka Tum, Phuoc Tan. Also, other neighbors include Binh Phuoc Province and Binh Duong Province in the East, Ho Chi Minh City and Long An Province in the South.
Right from Saigon, you can take a 2-hour bus ride at Eastern Bus Station (or Ben Xe Mien Dong) with a VND70k/person ticket. There is a bus No. 703 around Ben Thanh Market, downtown Saigon, which will take 2.5 hours to arrive at Moc Bai Border Gate. Or you can call on this place from An Suong, Dist. 12 or Cu Chi Dist. (by the bus No. 603), or from Binh Phuoc Prov. Anyway, within the confine of this article, a 2-hour motorcycle ride from Ho Chi Minh City is drawn out on the 22nd Highway toward Tay Ninh City.
Interesting places to check out
Tay Ninh is quite a remote province where people seem lukewarm to visit on business, but on vacation instead. Not so much outstanding in natural beauty, however, the province lures thousands of people flocking to every year thanks to its Ba Den Mountain and Caodai Sacred Temple of Tay Ninh. Once setting foot in Tay Ninh, you must go see these places first.
Ba Den Mountain
As the highest point in South Vietnam (986m), Ba Den (in Vietnamese as Black Lady or Black Virgin) Mount. is attractive in nature and spirit. The mountain was named after a female deity of Khmer origin as "Neang Khmau" who left her footprints on the mountain rocks. There raises another myth that says "Ba Den", a virgin girl who fell in love with a soilder then got betrayed and died in the mountain, which owned the name of Phnom Chol Baden in Khmer language. With such a spiritual meaning, the mountain has long become a religious hub in Buddhism and Caodaism in South Vietnam.
As spring sets in and Tet comes, local people and visitors alike head to Tay Ninh to visit a Buddha temple up high on Ba Den Mount. Nowadays it's pretty easy to reach its summit through cable car; however, many choose to climb every single stair upwards. On your climb, you can stop to visit some caves named Pig Cave, Son Tinh Cave. At the summit, we can camp around and hunt cloud and dawn.
At the foot of the mountain lay a lot of shops and eateries, where you can hang around for shopping or getting some special food. Or simply photographing is a nice thing to do since the mountain offers such a wondrous backdrop.
Tay Ninh Holy See
Originally established in 1926, Caodaism rooted deep in Tay Ninh Province and spread over the Mekong Delta. Right at the holy land emerged a holy temple named Tay Ninh Holy See as the center of this newly-born religion.
As written in the religious bible, the whole temple represents Bach Ngoc Kinh or White Jade Palace where the God is living at the mortal world. Specifically, this architecture consists of 3 parts including Thien Hiep Dai (or the Palace of Divine Alliance as a symbol for Perispirit), Cuu Trung Dai (or the Palace Nine Divine Planes as a symbol for Conformation) and Bat Quai Dai (or the Octogonal Palace as a symbol for the Soul). Located in union with a conformation, these parts altogether forms to make wisdom and lucidity. It is like man without a soul must die, without perisprit must be crazy, without carnal body can not exist.
Twice a year, the Holy See opens its door to welcome all Caodai followers flocking there for 2 celebrations on Jan. 9th and Aug. 15th in lunar calendar. You should pay a visit to the temple and have a closer look at the architecture as well as its spiritual meaning. Besides, the colorful exterior lends such an outstanding backdrop for photography as well.
Dau Tieng Reservoir
Climbing up the mountain, here's the time to slide down and hit the water.
Tay Ninh shares part of a big reservoir called Dau Tieng lake. Just 25 km from downtown Tay Ninh City to the east, Dau Tieng Lake is an artificial reservoir that started being formed in 1981 and got finished in 1985. Over 270 km2 of water area and over 40km2 of swamp, the lake is bounded by 3 provinces, say, Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc and Binh Duong.
With amazing turquoise blue water, the lake turns out to serve a nice picnic place. The water looks beautiful under sunlight, twinkling along continuous gentle waves. From there, we can see Ba Den Mount., along with the lake, all of which offers such a great backdrop for photography. At weekends, youngsters gather by the lake and have fun with a barbecue party. Some take a water tour round the lake on a small boat sailed by a local. There are some small islets where we can stop by for a while. Or you can go fishing by the lake, too.
Don't be upset if you find nothing else interesting there to photograph. Hold on, just move along the bank toward Ba Den Mountain, you will find a nice lush green road on the left. Under dense shade of tall leafy trees, the road bisects the forest and forms such a romantic view. Remember to amble along there and take some shots.
Ma Thien Lanh Valley
Precipitous stone walls isolate a large body of water, which altogether forms such a nice valley called Ma Thien Lanh. Located near Ba Den Mount. connected by the Road No. 785, the valley stays up pretty high behind the mountains. After clambering through a uphill tarred path, you end up facing a moss green lake. The water is dancing in the sunshine while endless breeze wanders around. Youngsters like to go camping there, where they spend half a day climbing the mountain and discovering Tiger Cave (hang Ong Ho), and gather together singing and dancing round the fire. Due to its distance, you'd better off shopping every essential for a camping picnic.
As above, Tay Ninh borders on Cambodia with several border gates, among which Moc Bai and Xa Mat are international ones in contribution to trading and exchange for both countries.
For Moc Bai International Border Gate, you can take the bus No. 703 or 704 right at downtown Saigon or the bus No. 05 at Tay Ninh City. A 70km ride leads to Moc Bai in several hours. You can go shopping at the duty-free supermarket (for a bill under VND500k). If you like to try your luck, go gamble at Bavet Casino a few walks from the borderline in Cambodia. However, it's not encouraging to go luck-seeking there due to its infamous gansters' activities. Furthermore, you can enter Cambodia and travel to Phrom Penh on the Trans-Asia Highway.
For Xa Mat International Border Gate, it's not much to do there as compared to Moc Bai. Nonetheless, it's interesting to visit Lo Go - Xa Mat National Park. This is a natural reserved area, which houses various plants and animals. Its fauna system includes lots of interesting animals, say, Pygathrix nigripes, Trachypithecus villosus, Macaca arctoides, Nycticebus pygmaeus and so on. You can have a boat tour through the park, learning more about the local flora and fauna system or fishing here and there for fun. Then a night by the fire with soilders would bring you a bunch of fun and exotic experience.
Where would you prefer?
I just mention several places where you can visit once getting to Tay Ninh. Now it's time for foodstuff what we can stuff ourselves during our trip to this border-line province.
- Banh canh Trang Bang (Trang Bang rice noodle)
- Banh trang Trang Bang (Trang Bang rice paper)
- Shrimp salt
Actually you can have all of them in Saigon; however, it's not that people call Authentic Food. Coming to Tay Ninh, you must try Trang Bang rice noodle that features a fantastic type of rice noodle. Then the same place offers another specialty - that is, Trang Bang rice paper. Just drop by a small eatery along the highway and order some dishes served with rice paper, say, spring roll. The local rice paper is tough and sweet, being wrapped with veggies and pork slices, which creates a delicious flavor.
Especially, Tay Ninh is famous for its special shrimp salt that most of visitors like to shop for during their trip. This salt serves wonderfully some tropical fruits like mango or guava. Then you can make as trendy fruit-shake as mango or jew plum shaken with shrimp salt. Combining both shrimp salt and rice paper, you can have such nice paper mix to chew during your travel.
Which one would you prefer to buy home?
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Thanks for your attention. Remember to check up further articles of mine if you're interested in this travel topic.
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