The birthplace of Vietnam’s Cao Dai religion, Tay Ninh is a provincial city and capital in Southeastern Vietnam. As the administrative center for the Tay Ninh Province, the city often attracts tourists because of the nearby Cao Dài Great Temple, Núi Ba Den Mountain, and Dau Tieng Lake.
Tay Ninh’s proximity to the Cambodian border also makes it a popular stopover destination for people who are traveling through Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Many visitors may also come from Ho Chi Minh City, which is only 90 km (56 mi) to the southeast of Tay Ninh City.
Provincial Capital in Southeast Vietnam
As a provincial capital of a smaller province, Tay Ninh City encompasses both urban and rural areas. The city itself is full of life and it is a bustling place where many visitors head to explore the various attractions. Though, when traveling away from the city streets, quiet farmland quickly takes over the landscape.
The option to go between the city and farms has made Tay Ninh a popular destination for many visitors who are looking to get away from the clamor of Ho Chi Minh City. Within the greater provincial area, Tay Ninh City is centrally located. The city and province are bordered by Cambodia on three sides and parts of the area are included in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Region.
Tay Ninh City is also easily accessible from HCMC, which is about a 2.5-hour drive away. Private cars and public buses are the most frequently used transportation options to get between the two cities. Currently, there are no train or flight routes between Saigon and Tay Ninh.
Tay Ninh is most famously the headquarters for the Cao Dai religion, which was established in 1926. Following the end of World War II and the Fall of Saigon, the religious sect administered and controlled much of the area surrounding Tay Ninh. Throughout the decades, followers of Caodaism have continued to maintain control over Tay Ninh.
Nearby to Tay Ninh City, there is even a temple called the Holy See, which acts as the group’s main church. Centuries before the creation of the Cao Dài religion, the area around Tay Ninh City and Province was ruled by the Cambodian Khmer Empire. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the Vietnamese emperor, Gia Long, occupied the area and united it to create Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty.
Vietnam was ruled by the Nguyen Dynasty until the occupation by France in the late 1800s. During the Vietnam (American) War, Tay Ninh City was a major point and end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was used to support democratic efforts in Southern Vietnam. However, Tay Ninh couldn’t stand on its own for long and by 1969, the city had been captured by the Viet Cong.
Later, in the 1970s, the city was attacked, and civilians were killed by Cambodia’s Communist party, the Khmer Rouge.
With a tumultuous history, Tay Ninh has since recovered. Tributes to the past are sprinkled throughout the city and many have been turned into tourist sites, where foreigners can learn more about Vietnam’s past. Aside from the historical significance of the city, the beautiful scenery and busy streets make for an entertaining destination.
- Tay Ninh has a reported population of 153,537 people as of 2013
- Within Tay Ninh City, there are 7 wards and 3 communes
- The dominant ethnicities in Tây Ninh include Cham, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Hoa
Tay Ninh is a city that has become renowned for its mountains and temples. Most of the main attractions for tourists in Tay Ninh City are based around exploring the outdoors or learning more about the Cao Dài religion. Popular attractions in Tay Ninh include the Black Virgin Mountain, Holy See Temple, Dau Tieng Lake.
Holy See Temple
Construction on the Holy See Temple was completed in 1947 and since then, the temple has become a focal point for Tay Ninh City. Vibrant and ornate, the architecture of the temple is simply stunning. Visitors can travel 4 km (2.5 mi) outside of Tay Ninh City to the village of Long Hoa to see the temple.
Normally, the temple hosts four prayer sessions throughout the day that are open to the public. Prayer sessions are only suspended during the holiday of Tet. Guests to the temple should dress modestly and always as permission before taking photographs.
Black Virgin Mountain
Known as Nui Ba Den in Vietnamese, Black Virgin Mountain has been nicknamed the “Roof of Southeast Vietnam”. Travelers may also see the mountain called Black Lady. The mountain stands at 996 m (3,268 ft) tall, and it has become a spiritual site for many locals. The main attraction on the mountain is Sun World Ba Den, which has a cable car, statues, and temples.
Visitors can take the cable car to the summit of the mountain where they can then explore the various statues and temples. With such a high altitude, guests are also treated to exceptional views of the surrounding landscape.
Dau Tieng Lake
Technically, Dau Tieng Lake is Vietnam’s largest irrigation reservoir. The lake holds 1.6 billion cubic meters of water, which is used to water the crops in Tay Ninh and neighboring provinces. As a large man-made lake, Dau Tieng has become a tourist hotspot. Visitors to the lake are permitted to hike, boat, camp, and fish at the reservoir.
Close to the lake, Cau Mountain and the Thai Son Pagoda are also popular places for tourists to visit.
Suited to the diversity of Tay Ninh City, guests will have the option of staying in luxury, boutique, and homestay accommodations. There are plenty of accommodation options in the city that will fit any traveler’s budget. Popular accommodations in Tay Ninh include resorts like the Vinpearl, hotels like Gold City, and homestays on nearby farms.
Hotels and lodging:
- Read about the best 5-star hotels in Tay Ninh.
Gold City Hotel – One of the newest hotels that opened in Tay Ninh City is the Gold City Hotel. Located close to attractions like the VinCom Center, the Gold Hotel is within walking distance of various attractions and quality restaurants. At the hotel, guest rooms have air conditioning, a TV, a small kitchen setup, a private bathroom, linens, and a desk.
Shared spaces in the hotel include a sun terrace and lounge. As a service to its guests, the Gold Hotel has an ATM, free Wi-Fi, and airport transfers.
La’s Farmstay – Situated on canals outside of Tây Ninh’s city proper, La’s Farmstay has everything that guests need on-site. Facilities at the farm stay include a full restaurant, shared kitchen area, bar, garden, terrace, and outdoor pool. All rooms at the farm stay include a private bathroom, kitchenette, air conditioning, and TV.
Breakfast is included with your stay. The hotel also provides guided tours to guests for fishing or boating on the canal.
Vinpearl Hotel Tay Ninh – Providing guests with world-class service, the Vinpearl Hotel Tay Ninh location has hundreds of dazzling rooms. Each room includes amazing sitting views, extra seating space, private bathrooms, TVs, and free Wi-Fi.
All guests are also given a buffet breakfast. Additional accommodations at the hotel include a restaurant, 24-hour front desk, indoor pool, gym, and hot tub. The Vinpearl hotel is child-friendly to all families, though children over the age of 12 are considered to be adults.
Though Tay Ninh is not as popular of a destination as HCMC, it is still a food-lovers paradise. An unusual dish that is found only in Tay Ninh is the Black Virgin Mountain lizards, which are covered in spices and deep-fried.
For more conventional tastes, visitors can try the Trang Bang rice paper or rice noodle soup. Restaurants in the city serve a mix of local and international favorites.
Troc’s Pizza – For a well-known taste that may remind travelers of home, Troc’s Pizza serves the best crust and cheese in Tay Ninh City. All pizzas are baked fresh using local ingredients with both traditional and new flavors. The restaurant has a small in-house seating section, and it also offers delivery or take-out to its customers.
La Dem Bistro – Another favorite amongst foreigners in Tay Ninh is La Dem Bistro, which serves Western favorites like pizza, pasta, and bread. Diners can eat at the restaurant, have it delivered, or take their food to go. Highly rated, travelers are likely to meet other world travelers when they dine at Le Dem Bistro.
Nhà Hàng Sala Tây Ninh – Travelers who would like to taste local favorites like the Trang Bang rice paper should head to Nha Hang Sala Tay Ninh. This restaurant has a large outdoor area for guests and its menu features many Vietnamese dishes that are local to Tây Ninh. Ingredients including the seafood are served fresh and many vegetables are sourced from the local markets.
Cù Lao Quan – To taste Tay Ninh’s more exotic dish, the Black Virgin Mountain lizards, tourists should head to the Cu Lao Quan restaurant. Well-rated, this restaurant is loved for its delicious food, great service, and spacious layout. While the lizards are on the menu, other good dishes include seafood, salads, and noodles.
While Tay Ninh City hosts many celebrations throughout the year, one specific festival is tied to the area’s Nui Ba Den Mountain. Every year, a Spring Festival is held during the first month of the lunar calendar. The main celebrations are held on the 18th and 19th of the first month.
During the celebration, high-ranking monks host a midnight ceremony called Moc Duc. The ceremony marks the beginning of the festival, after which locals celebrate by wearing elaborate costumes and performing dances.
Tay Ninh is not a very large city, but that doesn’t mean that travelers should expect to be able to walk everywhere. While visitors will be able to walk around parts of the city, it may be necessary to find transportation to get to some tourist sites like the Holy See Temple, which is outside of Tay Ninh. Taxis are common throughout the city and fares are often fairly priced.
Visitors can also take a local bus around the city, which can help them save even more money because of the low fares.
Many accommodations throughout the city will also provide transportation to guests staying on the property. Transportation options may include arranging for a taxi, booking a tour, or renting out a bicycle. Guests should check with their accommodation to see whether the price of transportation is included with their stay or will be charged as an additional cost.
As a part of Southern Vietnam, there are two main seasons in Tay Ninh – wet and dry. The wet season is the worst time to visit Tây Ninh because of monsoons, high temperatures, and humidity. Starting as early as March and lasting until late October, the weather can be more unpredictable in Tay Ninh.
While the rain won’t start right away, the wettest months of the year tend to be during the summer months. The best time to visit Tay Ninh City is during the dry season, which starts in November and lasts until February. During the dry months, the weather and cooler and rain showers are less likely to ruin your plans.
Rich with culture, nature, and food, Tay Ninh is one destination in Southern Vietnam that shouldn’t be missed. With close proximity to Saigon, it takes little effort to head north for a long weekend, which allows visitors to explore more of Vietnam’s amazing landscapes. Awaiting in Tây Ninh are gorgeous mountains, holy temples, and quaint farms.
Charming is the only way to describe Tay Ninh and visitors are guaranteed to love this enchanting destination.
Activities near Tay Ninh City
- Lo Go-Xa Mat National Park (45km)