TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN AN GIANG
An Giang Province is located to the west of the Mekong Delta between the Tien and Hau rivers and shares a 100km border with Cambodia in the north – west. It also shares border with Dong Thap Province in the east, Cantho City in the south – east, and Kien Giang Province in the south – west. An Giang has two main types of topography: midland areas and low mountains. The low mountains is Bay Nui (Seven Mountains) in Tinh Bien and Tri Ton districts. Vinh Te Tunnel runs along with the province’s border in the west, which connects from Chau Doc to Ha Tien.
- Trà Sư Forest
Tra Su forest is the first tourist attraction in An Giang. Prior to 1975, the local natural forests were destroyed by the enemy’s bombs and became uncultivated areas. After the war, authorities in An Giang Province invested to reforest cajeput and build a 12km long, 4m wide and 4m high dyke system that helps prevent the area from being swamped during flood season.
According to Tran Ngoc Rang, Head of the Tra Su Cajuput Forest Management Board, at present, cajuput from 5 to 25 years old are planted in the 713ha forest. With its ecosystem, the cajuput forest will become a cradle to create the food source for many animals, particularly species of birds.
Here, there are 140 specified floral varieties with 22 varieties of trees, 25 varieties of shrubs, 10 varieties of vines, 70 varieties of grasses, 13 species of aquatic plants, 22 varieties of ornamental plants, 9 varieties of fruit trees and particularly many varieties of medicinal herbs of high value, 11 species of beasts belonging to 6 families and 4 orders, 70 species of birds belonging to 3 families and 13 orders, 2 rare and precious varieties of birds, including Giang sen (Mycteria Leucocephala) and Dieng dieng (Anhiga melanogaster), 20 species of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians and 23 species of fish, including Ca com (Chitala ornata) and Tre trang (Clarias batrachus) having the scientific value and being in danger of extinction.
Tran Ngoc Rang said that in the coming time the management board will build a 10-15ha area to raise wild animals with the aim of developing the area into a garden with animals and plants of the flooded ecosystem in service of education, research and ecotourism.
Since 1999 the forest has attracted tourists. However it wasn’t until 2005 tourism activities officially took place. The Province invested 18 billion VND in building infrastructure to serve the management and protection of the forest. Visiting the area, tourists will have a chance to behold the beauty of the forest with the remaining vestiges of rivers, canals, etc., and relax among wild nature for Vietnam travel.
Apart from the significance of preservation and economic value, the area also boasts many unique cultural features as it is the home of the Kh’mer and Kinh people who practice several traditional handicrafts, such as brocade weaving, silk weaving, cooking Thot not (Borassus flabellifer) sugar, distilling cajuput essential oil, raising bees for honey, etc.
With its beautiful scenery and ecological value, the Tra Su cajuput forest annually attracts over 10,000 domestic and foreign tourists and researchers.
- Bà Chúa Xứ Temple
Location: At the foot of Sam Mountain, Vinh Te Commune, Chau Doc Town, An Giang Province.
Characteristics: Ba Chua Xu Temple is constructed according to the Chinese character “quoc”, has 4 square roofs, roofed with blue pile-shaped tiles. It is a very interesting tourist attraction in An Giang.
Ba Chua Xu Temple was built in 1820 on Sam Mountain. According to a legend, in the early 1800s villagers found a statue of a lady dating to the 6th century in the forest. They built a temple in her honour, hoping that she would bring them better crops and better lives. This is why the marble statue of Ba Chua Xu, meaning “country lady,” is worshipped. Ba Chua Xu Festival is organized annually at the end of the 4th lunar month; worshippers touch her statue and ask for her protection and benediction.
- Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb
The Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb, also known as Son Lang, is a typical unspoiled rare structure built under the Nguyen Dynasty in the South. It is part of the Sam Mountain Cultural and Historical Site in An Giang Province’s Chau Doc City. Thoai Ngoc Hau is one of tourist attractions in An Giang.
Son Lang is located at the foot of Sam Mountain, besides some other relic sites. What is strange is that it is never really as noisy as other tombs and shrines there. A quiet, dignified and respectful atmosphere prevails over the tomb. Son Lang is dedicated to Nguyen Van Thoai, i.e. Thoai Ngoc Hau, a mandarin of the Nguyen Dynasty, who was appointed by the court to come defending and exploiting An Giang.
He is a mandarin that people in An Giang were ultimately grateful for his great dedication to the province in the years he ruled it. Thoai Ngoc Hau’s merits were enormous and unspeakable.
He gathered local people and encouraged them to develop farming. Under his governance, uncultivated and uninhabited areas became lucrative lands. In particular, his greatest work for the south was that he organized digging the two strategic canals of Thoai Ha and Vinh Te which helped boost regional trade and transport.
No one knows when Son Lang was built. But according to history books, he buried his second wife Truong Thi Miet there in 1821 and his first wife Chau Thi Te in 1826. He also reserved a portion for himself between the two tombs of his wives. So, it is predicted that he started to build Son Lang before his death in 1829.
Beyond the gate of Son Lang is the tomb of Thoai Ngoc Hau and his two wives. Next is his majestic and ancient shrine leaning against the cliff. The shrine was skillfully decorated with a 2m-high head-and-shoulder statue of Thoai Ngoc Hau in mandarin clothes solemnly looking out on the Vinh Te Canal.
There are countless other valuable treasures in the shrine such as the horizontal lacquered boards, epitaph, oration and epic poems that praise the virtues of predecessors while highlighting a glorious time of land reclamation.
With its precious values, Son Lang was recognized as a National Historical and Cultural Monument in 1997, which is now one of key destinations in the Sam Mountain Cultural and Historical Site, near the Temple of Sam Mountain Princess (Mieu Ba Chua Xu Nui Sam).
According to the Sam Mountain Cultural and Historical Site management Board, local tourism, trade and site-preservation promotion will be strengthened in the coming time, with a view to promote Chau Doc as an attractive destination in the Mekong Delta.
- Sam mountain
Sam mountain is a very interesting tourist attraction in An Giang. Following 91 national highway to the west for around 60km from Long Xuyen City centre, you will come to Chau Doc commute, the home of Sam Mountain which is a popular mountain that many people want to visit. The name of the mountain mean the king-crab due to the fact that seen from a distance, the mountain looks look like a king-crab sticking on a vast green field.
Besides, there is a legend saying that this place used to be an island jutting out from the sea when sea covered the whole area. That island is the living place of many king-crabs, so it is called the mountain of King-crabs.
Sam Mountain is a young mountain at 280ha in acreage and 241m high. There are lots of trees shading the mountain. In summer, the green background of tree leaves is decorated with Poinciana flowers that makes the island more beautiful and natural. Another interesting thing is the watercourse system surrounding the island as well as ancient temples and pagodas system on mountainside which create the pretty scene between the prosperous plateau.
Under Nguyen Dynasty, Sam Mountain belonged to the area of Vinh Te Village, Tuy Bien District, An Giang Province which is now Vinh Te commute, Chau Doc Town, An Giang province. That romantic landscape has gone into poem by Thoai Ngoc Hau as a Feng shui painting. That was also the first time this attraction appeared on history. For a long time, the image of Sam Mountain have buried in the souls of people in An Giang and people in the South in general. The mountain is also the gathering place of many architecture works and historical and cultural relics recognized by the Ministry of Culture including Tay An Pagoda, Ba Chua Xu Temple, Thoai Ngoc Hau Temple, Hang Pagoda and some attractions like Bach Van Hill, Tao Ngo Garden, etc,.
- Chau Doc Floating Village
Coming to Chau Doc, you will have a chance to discover the charming attraction in a three-hour tour. This tour will take you on the floating market, the floating village offshore, a Cham village across the river, and perhaps a peek at the Kinh Vinh Te, the canal that leads south to Ha Tien. It is one of tourist attractions in An Giang.
Being busiest at 7am, the floating market is about 10 minutes downstream from the central market. In the morning, many boats will be fully loaded up with goods, especially fruit to prepare for a market day. Boats head off to pick up fruit in Sa Dec or Can Tho every few days, but there’s always plenty of business in the early hours.
Another stop you should not miss is the floating village, which are group of houses with the roof and wall made of aluminum. Embedded inside are lots of huge, netted ‘fish farms,’ where hundreds and hundreds of ca vo dem fish await canh chua bowls; some visitor can get shipped downriver to Can Tho and beyond. Note the huge moored wooden boats, which flood their lower decks to keep the fish alive during the trip.
- Bung Binh Thien – a heavenly natural lake in An Giang province
Named as the Peaceful Lake of Heaven, Binh Binh Thien is a blue – and – water lake naturally formed in An Giang Province area. The lake is tranquil all year long that reflecting cluster of clouds and enticing passers-by to stop and contemplate the primitive attraction.
Bung Binh Thien is located in An Phu District, in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, connecting tree communes including Khanh Binh, Nhon Hoi and Quoc Thai, and adjoining Binh Di River and Hau River. This beautiful lake is being constructed to become an eco-tourist area.
Bung Binh Thien is a place of tranquility where visitors can stay away from the stresses of city life and discover the poetic landscapes of the area, with water-lilies and lotus swaying in the wind on the lake, and the bustle of creatures such as fish, shrimp, snakes and turtles under water.
- Co To Mountain in An Giang province
Being the most famous mountain in That Son, the mountain chain in An GIang Province, Co To Mountain is one of the most frequently crowded destinations by pilgrims and tourists.
Located about 50km from Chau Doc central, Co To Mountain is belonged to Nui To Commune, Tri Ton District. The mountain is about 5,800m long, 3,700m wide and rises to 614m above sea level.
Beside the popular name Co To, the mountain is also named To Mountain because its overview appearance looks like an overturned bowl, so it is called “To” which means “bowl. It also called Phung Hoang Son (Phoenix Mountain). Since connected with the mountain is Tuc Dup Hill, the mountain and the hill resemble a phoenix in the afar look, so people call the mountain Phung Hoang Son, which means “the mountain of a phoenix”.
Living on the mountain there has about more than 30 families that mostly are farmers. They grow fruit trees such as mangoes, jackfruits, durians, bananas, papayas, pineapples and avocadoes. Over the past several years, residents have also cultivated aquilegias for agar wood. Several families also sell goods such as footwear, headwear, food, drinks and candles to tourists.
The mountain has many natural forests where become interesting places for visitors. There are some pagodas and temple, which are located on the mountain that visitors can stay at night if they do not want to leave the mountain too late or if they want to stay longer for more visits the next day. In addition, they can also stay overnight at simple guesthouses operated by residents.
- Tức Dụp Hill
Location: Tuc Dup Hill located in Tri Ton District, belongs to Co To Mountain, An Giang Province.
Characteristics: Even though Tuc Dup Hill is only 300m high, it owns an obstacle and dangerous geography with rough cliffs forming caves getting though each other like a bee hive. For these distinctive characteristics together with brave fighting will and wisdom of An Giang people, Tuc Dup became a famous fighting base in the time being against American. During 128 days, the enemy who had a very powerful military force such as fighting jets, artillery and infantry did not defeat our determined fighting will.
In the result, American was defeated. Thus, a terrible name was heard “2 million – dollar hill” (the sum of money that American paid for bullets and bombs). Then, peace was set up. The Tuc Dup Hill, which had no trees or phenomena of life because of the war’s impact, becomes vital with trees and becomes a historic site recognized and classified by academic ministry. Being romantic and next to splendid Co To Mountain, Tuc Dup Hill is visited by tourists on special holidays so that they can see the war remains, enjoy fresh air and admire ranging mountains. Visitors can also visit C.6 tunnel, cave for medical ward of military, the youth tunnel and the town hall… It deserves to be an ideal amusing place as visiting people prized.
- Cam Mountain
Cam Mountain known as Thien Cam Son is considered a beautiful silk brocade. It is the highest and most grandiose mountain in the That Son area in the triangle of Tinh Bien-Nha Bang-Tri Ton in An Hao Commune, Tinh Bien District of An Giang Province. The landscape in this area charms like a painting that fascinates every visitor.
There are many anecdotes about the origins of the name of the mountain. Cam Mountain or Cam Son was the official name first written in “Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi” (Essays on the United Great Vietnam) which was compiled at the end of the 19th century. The book states, “… The mountain is sky-high with verdant trees and is one of the seven mountains. It is so high that few people can reach its peak”. According to the book “Gia Dinh Thanh Thong Chi” by Trinh Hoai Duc, this mountain, called Doai Ton, is over 160m high, 20 miles in diameter and has the shape of a tower.
Cam Mountain has an altitude of 705m and has a circumference of 28,600m. The weather on the mountain is influenced by tropical monsoons and has an average temperature of 250C. In spring, during the day, it is cool and fresh with green and lush trees but at night it is rather cold. In the early morning, the mountain is covered with a white fog. In the evening, it is covered with clouds. From the top of the mountain, visitors have a panoramic view of vast rice fields stretching to the Ha Tien sea and the southwestern border. With its renowned scenery the area has become a popular tourist site.
The mountain also has a fascinating natural environment with flowers all year round that create a “splendid painting”. It is famous for many peaks of different heights with different name, such as Thien Tue, Bo Hong, Ong Buom, Dau and Ba. The name of each peak is associated with a legend and each has a meaning. Pilgrims often visit these peaks to pray. Along the walkways, there are other attractions, such as Phao Binh and Chu Than Peaks; Rau Tan, Cuu Pham, Kin and Cay Que Temples; Ong Ho and Thuy Tien Caves, and Muoi Co Shrine.
With beautiful scenery, large forests of verdant trees including many century-old trees with a vast canopy of leaves, Cam Mountain has become an ideal eco-tourist site. Visitors to this area can enjoy the landscape of the southwestern mountains and taste different kinds of fruit, such as mangos, jackfruits, bananas, durians, avocados and custard-apples. They also have an opportunity to call at the shops or stay overnight in the inns to enjoy the atmosphere of the mountainous area. If they have more time, they can visit Phat Lon, Phat Nho and Trung Son Thien Tu Pagodas.
Van Linh Pagoda is situated near a forest of acassia aneura and acacia trees covering 14,400m2. In 1929, superior Buddhist monk Thich Quang Thien built a simple dwelling with leaves to lead a religious life. In 1940, this house became Van Linh Pagoda. In 1995, the pagoda was rebuilt into a religious complex of a larger scale. The most impressive features of this pagoda are the three towers before the front hall. They are 40m high and consist of nine layers, each exhibiting a statue of Buddha riding a beast. The statues, made from stone taken from Thanh Hoa Province, are over 2m high and have delicate carvings, creating a deep and solemn feature.
A must-see attraction is the 33.60m-high statue of Mitreya, the highest Mitreya statue in Southeast Asia. It is placed in a 20ha area of green trees, facing the Phat Lon and Van Linh Pagodas. This is the largest artwork and religious structure in the Bay Nui area. It is amazing that from any peak of the mountains, visitors can see the white statue of Mitreya with a generous and holy smile sitting amidst a green space.
(Author: Huyen Nguyen)