Cao Dai Holy See, Ba Den Mountain, hundred-year-old houses are beautiful destinations for tourists to explore the “Holy land” of Tay Ninh.
Tay Ninh, about 100 km from Ho Chi Minh City, possesses the characteristics of both the South Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta. Therefore, the landscapes, culture, cuisines have many special features that visitors should experience once in a lifetime.
Best time to visit
Tay Ninh has a hot and humid climate all year round with an average temperature of 27.5 C, and rainfall of 1,724 mm. The dry season often starts from December to April and the rainy season starts from May to November. Tourists can travel to Tay Ninh at any time of the year. But the busiest time falls on two occasions: the fifteenth of January and the mid-autumn festival.
From Ho Chi Minh City, tourists can take a bus to get to Tay Ninh which is 96 km to the southeast. On the way, you can stop to visit Cu Chi tunnels. It is one of the highlights in any Vietnam tour that cannot be missed. The tour might cost about US$ 30.
From Cu Chi, travelers can go by bus number 702 or bus number 701 to Gau Dai, and then take bus number 4 to come to Tay Ninh.
Another way to get to Tay Ninh is by taking minibusses departing every 15 minutes from An Suong Bus Station in Hooc Mon, Ho Chi Minh City to Tay Ninh Bus Station.
By Private Car/ Motorbike
From An Suong bus station, you go along Highway 22A. Coming to Trang Bang junction, you turn left to get to Go Dau junction town, turn right along Highway 22B, then go about 60 km more to come to Tay Ninh.
Hotels in Tay Ninh are often located close to Ba Den mountain road on Avenue 30/4, CMT8 which are close to Ba Den Mountain. The room rate is from 100,000 VND to 400,000 VND per night. Besides, experience camping on Ba Den mountain sunrise is an exceptional option that tourists can consider
Tay Ninh is famous for its Trang Bang soup, rice paper with pork rolls, beef rolls, grapefruit spring rolls, shrimp salt, snails, sour sauce, mountain lizard, vegetarian dishes of Cao Dai people. You can find and buy these dishes in Trang Bang town and Tay Ninh city.
Some places to eat are suggested by locals: Nam Dung, Ut Hue, Hoang Minh (Banh Trang town center), beef hotpot restaurant in Trung Nu Vuong street (Tay Ninh City).
As the attractions in Tay Ninh are quite far apart, you should follow a specific schedule for convenience. Firstly you should rent a motorbike in Tay Ninh City to start the journey of sightseeing. Here are two-day itinerary suggestions.
Day 1: Go Dau Fruit Garden, Cao Dai Holy See, The hundred-year-old house
If you start the journey by car or motorbike from Ho Chi Minh City, it will take about 2 hours to get to the area of fruit gardens in Go Dau district. Go Chua, Bau Don, Ut Phuong are some gardens where let visitors experience picking and eating fruits. Most of them are open free for visitors. The famous fruits here are durian, rambutan, mangosteen, bon bon, which can be bought at affordable prices.
In the garden, you can have lunch with local food such as egg rolls, boiled/ grilled chicken, salad, quail eggs, sour sauce. The cost is about 150,000 VND each.
The next destination is Tay Ninh Holy See, a unique religious work of Cao Dai, about 30 km from the fruit garden. You should leave the garden from 11 am to catch up to the Holy See at 12 am, so you are able to witness the praying ceremony of a large number of Cao Dai people. And do not forget to visit the inside and outside of the main building and the surrounding buildings.
In the afternoon, when you come to the center of Tay Ninh City, you should visit the hundred-year-old house, located at 39 Phan Chau Trinh street. The old house, built-in 1894 by Governor Nguyen Van Kien, a French colonial official, still retains the original architecture and furniture. This place is open free for visitors.
Tay Ninh Market is the destination to end up the first day. The streets around the market are full of goods selling such as shrimp salts, rice paper, and sour sauce. You can buy these specialties as gifts at affordable prices, in the range of 5,000 VND – 40,000 VND each.
Day 2: Ba Den Mountain, Forest vineyard, Trang Bang town
In the morning with cool weather is a good time to visit Ba Den Mountain, the highest mountain in the South (986 m), 11 km from the center of Tay Ninh City. It not only attracts hiking enthusiasts but also pilgrims to Dien Ba (Linh Son Thanh Mau) and 300-year-old Ba Den Pagoda (Linh Son Tien Thach Tu). Particularly at Ba Den Pagoda, vegetarian food is served free for pilgrims.
Visitors can climb the mountain and visit the temple by cable car, taking a sledge, or walk. Currently, the ticket for traveling to Ba Den mountain or going to the pagoda by cable car is 200,000 VND per person and by sledge is 180,000 VND per person.
After visiting the mountain, you should visit the forest vineyard in Phan commune (Duong Minh Chau district) 5 km from the mountain entrance. This garden is open free for visitors and even you can freely try grape products here. You can buy wine and grape syrup for about 100,000 VND per bottle.
Trang Bang Town is the final destination to explore Tay Ninh. Here, you can not ignore the famous pork soup and rice paper rolls, which are sold in some restaurants such as Nam Dung, Ut Hue, Hoang Minh.
Then, you drop by the dewy rice paper rollers in Loc Du hamlet in town to buy newly made rice-paper for gifts. This type of rice paper is made sophisticatedly from steamed rice flour, dried in the daytime, then baked on charcoal for fragrant foam, then night again exposed to the dew to soften. This rice-paper has the softness available, no need to moisten before use.
Note, if traveling by personal vehicle, you can go from Ba Den Mountain to Trang Bang, which is nearly 50 km away and then go straight to Ho Chi Minh City. If not, a bus or private car is the best option.