[Review] – Two Day Trip To Tay Ninh

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year 2018! On January 13th and 14th, we had an exciting and memorable two-day trip to Tay Ninh Province. Here is a brief review of our weekend journey.

– 13/01/2018: 

Tried Banh Canh Trang Bang – a special food of Tay Ninh.

Joined “Culture Fair” with secondary school students and tried Tay Ninh snacks.

Visited Cao Dai Temple and Observed praying.

Had a feast with varieties of beef food.

– 14/01/2018:

Tried Hu Tieu – Vietnamese vermicelli.

Hiked on Bà Đen (Black Virgin) Mountain.

Day 1 – 13/01/2018

  • 10:00: Departed from Ho Chi Minh City

This time, we had almost 20 people, who come from Vietnam, America, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, China and Japan, so we decided to rent a van to Tay Ninh. We started to leave for Tay Ninh at 10AM. It took us 3 hours to reach the center of Tay Ninh Province. 

  • 12:30: Arrived in Tay Ninh Province

At around 12:30, we arrived in Tay Ninh Province, and we had a lunch at ‘Bánh Canh Cô Ba‘ restaurant. We tried Bánh Canh Trảng Bàng, a special vermicelli dish of Tay Ninh. The restaurant also sells some popular Tay Ninh snacks like banana rice paper or spicy rice paper. Tay Ninh is a hotpot for rice paper or bánh tráng in Vietnamese, especially the one with muối tôm (literally shrimp salt.) 

  • 14:15: Joined “Cultural Fair” with Secondary Students in Tay Ninh

Our first big purpose of this trip is to interact with students coming from two secondary schools in Tay Ninh at the invitation of a teacher there. Activities include having conversations, introduction about Tay Ninh and Vietnam, playing a quiz, and playing traditional Vietnamese games. It was quite surprising that the students could speak English very well. Some were confident, some shy; but after all, they were really eager to share with us their experience and the information about their hometown. We learnt a lot from them. The Vietnamese games also reminded me of my childhood time. In japan, we also have some similar games and I usually played them with my friends at school.

We, Vietnam Track, really appreciated this memorable time. We would like to send our greatest gratitude towards the teachers and students, and also the parents. Thank you.

 

  • 17:00: Visited Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai is a special religion in Vietnam. Briefly, the religion is the combination of several other religions, and hope for the peace of the world. I don’t know this religion exactly, so I cannot talk about it more; however, I want to talk about my impressions of this temple. The temple was quite big, colourful and quiet. The whole area surrounding it was so huge that it seems like a small town with residential areas, education and governance. In a day, there are four praying time: 6a.m, 12p.m, 6p.m and 12a.m. Visitors are kindly welcomed to observe it.

 

  • 19:00: Dinner Time

At 19:00, we had a dinner at a restaurant, which is famous for the beef, called “Bo To Tay Ninh Nam Sanh”. We asked local people which restaurant in Tay Ninh is good? They answered this one, so it is already proved that this restaurant is super nice. We could enjoy delicious beef dishes like BBQ, fried rice, beef hot pot and so on. I put the address here, if you are interested in this restaurant, why don’t you go??

Bo To Tay Ninh Nam Sanh

Address : C3/21T Pham Hung | Xa Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam

 

 

  • 21:00: Back to the hotel and took a rest.

We stayed at Thảo My Hotel. The hotel service is very good and the price is reasonable. 

Address: 313 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 1, Tay Ninh.

Day 2 – 14/01/2018

  • 6:30: Had breakfast

At 6:30, we gathered and went to have breakfast with Hủ tiếu (Vietnamese vermicelli) and Cà phê sữa đá (iced milk coffee) at a popular restaurant near our hotel. Why we gathered so early in the morning?? Because the hiking was waiting for us!!!

  • 8:15: Started to hike the Black Virgin Mountain

The height of Black Virgin Mountain is 986 meter. The reason why this mountain is called “Black Virgin”:

Variations of the legend of Núi Bà Đen exist. The oldest Khmer myth involves a female deity, “Neang Khmau” who left her footprints on the mountain rocks. The Vietnamese myth centers around a woman, Bà Đen, falling in love with a soldier and then through betrayal or suicide Bà Đen dies on the mountain. It has special significance to the Vietnamese Buddhist population and has a famous shrine about two thirds of the way up the mountain. Also, to the Cao Dai sect the mountain has special religious significance and its temple, the Tay Ninh Holy See, is close to the mountain.

(Wikipedia – Checked at 2018/01/17 11:57)

Although we took the easiest way to get to the top, it turned out to be not actually “easy”. For the way up, we chose Đường Cột Điện (Electric pole route) which is marked by a line of electric poles. After the pole numbered 108, we could reach the top. The route was unpaved, really natural with rocks and surrounded by bananas and mangoes trees. From time to time, colourful birds and insects were spotted. It took us about 4 hours to climb up to the top. The tiring time was paid off by delicious lunch which we had prepared beforehand and more importantly, the amazing view from the top. After lunch and a short rest at the top, we continue going down via Đường Chùa (Pagoda Route.)

But, from this point, we should be more careful. Before the trip, many people searched on the Internet and were told that this way was the easiest one. So, most of us didn’t prepare for this enough. However, as you can see from these picture; the route was rocky and steep, and some places had a big hole, so be careful! If you slip, you absolutely get hurt. It is advisable that you should prepare enough hiking things like shoes, sportswear, water and so on. 

Ready, Go!
Let’s follow the electric poles
Great view from the top
More carefulness for the way down
Chùa Bà Đen (Black Virgin Pagoda)

 

 

  • 17:30: Reached the bottom and back to Ho Chi Minh City

Fortunately, every member could reach the bottom safely, and we went back to our residential city. It took another 3 hours, but around this time the traffic was so terrible, so at 21:15, we finally came back to the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

In two days, we did many activities such as exchanging culture with students, visiting Cao Dai Temple, hiking Black Virgin Mountain, trying many Tay Ninh dishes and of course, making new friends from many countries. I would like to say thank you for having joined with us. We had great time with you. We are planning next trip and will inform soon, so please check our website often for more updates. The events are open for both local and foreigners. You are always to be welcomed.

 

Last photo in front of the main entrance after exhausting hike

Finally, if you have trouble to travel in Vietnam, feel free to contact us. We are happy to answer all of your questions.

Kazuki Nishioka

Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda

Buddhism is one of the main religions which possess the most profound influence on the Vietnamese. Buddhism penetrated Vietnam very early – from the 3rd century B.C by aquatic routes. Until later dynasties’ reign in Vietnam such as Ngo, Dinh, Former Le, Ly, Tran, etc., Buddhism was still flourishing.

The prosperity of Buddhism not only affected the Vietnamese’s beliefs, but also their architecture. If you have ever visited Hanoi, you must have heard of the pagoda with a strange architecture built in the heart of Hanoi in 1049 – during the reign of King Ly Thai Tong: One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột).

Photo: [Wikipedia]

However, the topic of today’s article is not about “One Pillar Pagoda,”. It is about another one located in a special place, hidden on a hill and away from the noisy bustle of this modern 21st century. Especially, this pagoda was featured in a music video which was named “Lạc Trôi” by a young Vietnamese singer – Sơn Tùng MTP. Its name is

Linh Quy Phap An

Where is Linh Quy Phap An?

Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda is located in Lam Dong Province, where the famous touristic city of Da Lat is situated. With a special terrain position placing on highlands, the pagoda always has a calm and harmonious vibe with green grass, hills and clouds. The pagoda is an ideal destination for those who want to indulge yourself in natural beauty and culture of Vietnam.

Photo: [Dulichtamlinh.net]

How to get there?

Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda is 21km to the South of Bao Loc of Lam Dong Province. To reach the pagoda, visitors need to follow this route:  

From Bao Loc City, go to Tran Phu Street, turn right at Dai Binh junction and head towards the road to Loc Thanh commune (Highway 55). After passing Loc Thanh Market, cross the Da Trang Bridge where you will face a junction. Turn right at that spot, pass Nibbana Pagoda while keeping straight to the crossroads, then turn right. Continue going straight, then turn left towards the 4th village of Loc Thanh commune. Go through the village for about 2km, and a small alley on the left is spotted. Going straight to that alley, following up the steep, visitors will meet an instruction board to turn left and follow the road leading to the pagoda.

The most convenient means of transportation to reach this pagoda is a motorcycle. And if you are a foreigner, a Vietnamese companion is advisable.

The Beauty Among The Nature

Once you reach the 45th Hill where the Linh Quy Phap An pagoda was built, please park the car down the hill and walk up to the top. Along the way, you can see the tea hills along two sides of the road, the moss-covered stone steps between the ridges and small wooden houses of local people.

Photo: [News.Zing.vn]
The road is rough but the achievement will not disappoint visitors. The first thing you are going to encounter is Roadhouse Inn (Quán Chiếu Đường). This is the most beautiful place where visitors can gaze out further to see the clouds drifting away. Even the scene at the bottom of the hill is visible in sunny days. In front of the Roadhouse Inn is a white grim statue of Buddha, under which are  stone-steps built in semi-circular shape, which looks really unique. The small courtyard of the pagoda is where the monks usually do the morning ceremony. Going further in the pagoda, you will see the gravel garden designed based  on the philosophy of static and meditation in Buddhism and the Bodhisattva in the lake.

Photo: [Twitter]
Many visitors choose to stay overnight at the pagoda to see the sunset and early dawn here which are the two most beautiful and spectacular moments created by The Creator.

In the sunset, the sky is painted in red covering the whole scene of Sky Gate (Cổng Trời). When the night falls down, the sky is covered with millions of stars, which is such a n amazing thing for city citizens. In the early morning, the pagoda seems to have a new coat made of fog and clouds drifting slowly. Standing in the middle of the courtyard, you will feel like you are in middle of the paradise or lost in a Chinese legendary tale.

Sky Gate (Photo: Vgotravel)

Therefore, if you are tired of tourist-crowded places or want to get closer to Vietnamese’s spiritual life, Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda is a suitable destination for you. Please share with Vietnamtrack the beautiful pictures you take when you go there!

If you have any problem travelling in Vietnam, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more assistance. We would be thrilled to help.

Writer: Linh Dang.
Translators: Diem Nguyen, Nhat Nguyen.