Tay Ninh Travel Guide

  • Things to Do
    by davidjo
  • Things to Do
    by davidjo
  • Cao Dai Temple
    Cao Dai Temple
    by Twan

Tay Ninh Things to Do

  • Tour to Cao Dai Temple

    From Saigon many tour operators will arrange a tour to Cao Dai temple which was built in 1933, and is around 100km from Saigon. The religion is a mix of Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Cao Dai even had its own army during the Japanese occupation but was disbanded by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1956. The temple is extravagantly decorated inside...

  • Cao Dai Temple

    Cao Dai (Cao Đài) or Caodaisme is a relatively new syncretistic and monotheistic religion, officially established in Tay Ninh, South Vietnam in 1926. Đạo Đài Cao is the short name, full name is Đại Đạo Tam Ky Pho DJO. It is an attempt to create the ideal religion of the North and South Vietnamese religions...


    The area to the west of the Temple is a large parade ground with small viewing stands on either side. Parades and dances take place out here during some of the most important religious days like the Feast Day for the Supreme Being - 9th Day of the First Lunar Month, just after Tet - or Hoi Yen Dien Tri, the religious feast for the Great Mother and...


    Cao Dai is like a lot of other organizations, one can work his/her way up a ladder of different positions, each with different responsibilities and different uniforms. Basic acolytes wear flowing white - white being pure and combining all colors within - robes. Priests divide into three branches: Confucianists get red, Buddhists saffron and Taoists...


    Up above - where the organ in a Christian church sits - and behind the faithful in the Prayer Hall at the opposite end from the Altar of the Eye sit a small orchestra. The music provided adds greatly to the mysticism of the Cao Dai service. The musicians are good too. So good, in fact, that they are not allowed to take part in folk music contests...


    Every six hours there is a service in the Temple’s Prayer Hall: Midnight, 6 AM, Noon and 6 PM. Tour companies and tourists show up to the noon service - remember the admonition of Graham Greene: “It always seems hotter in Tanyin than anywhere else in the Southern Delta; perhaps it was the absence of water, perhaps it was the sense of interminable...


    At the entrance to the Prayer Hall is a mural showing three Cao Dai saints - Chinese nationalist Sun Yat Sen, French author Victor Hugo, and Vietnamese poet Nguyen Binh Khiem - a Vietnamese Nostradamus able to predict the future. The three are depicted as the human “signatories of the Third Alliance between God and Mankind.”Cao Dai celebrates many...


    The all-seeing Divine Eye is the symbol of the Cao Dai, The eye is prominently displayed above the Temple entrance. Each window features an eye centrally. At the east end of the Temple, the Altar of the Eye dominates. Sitting atop a octagonal dais is a huge star-studded dark blue globe with the Divine Eye peering out representing supreme knowledge...


    Near the huge altar at the front of the Temple are a series of seven chairs. The chair at the head with dragon encrusted arms is for the pope. The six below in two rows of three - with eagles and lions - are for the cardinals. Women are equal to men in Cao Dai except they cannot become either the pope or the legislative leader - Ho Phap - and men...


    The theme of universality of religion is continued inside the Temple. From the entrance - males enter from the right and females from the left - looking forward down the long Prayer Hall, note the nine different levels - taken from the Tao - representing the Nine Steps to be taken as one tries to achieve nirvana. Walking barefoot - shoes are left...


    Built between 1933 and 1955 at the direction of Ho Phap Pham Cong Tac, the Great Divine Temple is the exotic centerpiece for the Cao Dai religion. The building represents the mixture of religion that makes up Cao Dai. Pagoda roofs reflect Tao and Confucian influence; twin towers at the front are not unlike those found on a Christian church; Buddha...

  • The Divine Eye

    God is symbolised by the Divine Eye, specifically the left eye because Yang is the left side and God is the master of Yang. You'll see this right at the far end of the temple but it's a little obscured as you can see in the photos.

  • Cao Dai Great Temple

    The capital of the same-named province, Tay Ninh is situated 95km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and is the original home of the Cao Dai religion which has around 3 million adherents in Southern Vietnam. Tay Ninh is home to the Cao Dai Great Temple, built between 1933 and 1955, which sits a few kilometres outside of the town. A rather garish meld of...

  • The Caodai Great Temple

    The headquarters for one of Vietnam's most interesting religions. The most beautiful, colourful religious structure that I have ever seen. If you remove your shoes and enter the building at around 12 mid-day you can go up the stairs and watch the daily service

  • Noon Mass at Cao Dai's 'Mother Church'

    The Cao Dai religion is restricted almost entirely to Vietnamese, including some who live outside the country. It is the ultimate in an eclectic faith, having embraced precepts from all the world's major religions -- and having canonized an array of semi-historical and actual figures ranging from St Jesus St Joan of Arc to St Victor Hugo and St...


Tay Ninh Local Customs

  • Colourful robes

    The Cao Dai religion is very colourful what with the pink and sky blue colours of the temple and the red, yellow and blue robes that you'll see worn by the worshippers. But what do these colours mean? Well there's yellow (for Buddhism), blue (for Taoism), and red (for Christianity). The priests are easily identified by their pointy hats decorated...

  • Mid-day Mass

    It's the Cao Dai prayers that form the key attraction at the Holy See from a tourist's perspective. Ritual prayers are held four times daily with the midday session the most likely one you'll see if you visit as a part of a tour from Saigon. Be aware that while you're permitted to photograph the prayers from the upstairs terrace (where all the...

  • The Three Saints

    Although various sects of Caodaiism claim to have received messages from numerous spiritual entities, the Tay Ninh Holy See acknowledges significantly fewer. Inside the Holy See is this painting depicting the Three Saints signing a covenant between God and humanity. From left to right, they are Sun Yat-sen (Chinese revolutionary and political...


Tay Ninh Warnings and Dangers

  • DennyP's Profile Photo

    by DennyP Written Oct 9, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The day I visited the town of Tay Ninh was to visit the big Ciaodai Temple.The Ciaodai faith is a faith within itself being a mix of Bhuddism.Taoism and Confusionism...
    The journey by bus north to the Temple was a rough one as some of the roads weren't particularly well paved and it was a really hot and humid day ..and as the busses air conditioning system was "open Windows" I found that I became increasingly thirsty and was just so glad that I was carrying sufficient fresh bottled water with me ..I noticed that there were very few places during the day that sold bottled water..This is a huge area to walk around and fresh water is a neccesity.
    Also make sure when puchasing bottled water here that the "screw cap" seal is unbroken ...many are sold after being "refills"..

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Tay Ninh Off The Beaten Path

  • Other Cao Dai Temples along the way

    Along the way to the Cao Dai Great Temple you'll pass by several other Cao Dai temples. As the Mekong Delta is the only place to see them in Vietnam, I took some photos of them in order to see the different styles but they all tend to be pretty similar in design.

  • Trang Bang

    On the way to see the Cao Dai Great Temple, we stopped for a break at a town called Trang Bang which was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War. One of the most iconic photographs of the war and, in my opinion, one of the most famous ever taken, was the image of a naked Vietnamese girl called Phan Thi Kim Phúc running down the road fleeing a napalm...

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