Cao Dai roughly translates to “high place or abode” is a new religious movement and considered as the third largest religion in Vietnam. It mixes ideas from world religion such as Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Islam to form a monotheistic religion.
The main temple of Tay Ninh Holy See is colourful both inside and out.
The rich flower ornaments, the dragons on the pillars, the towers and the all seeing eye are architectural reflection of the religion blended fundamentals.
Tourists are invited to enter the Holy See temple and witness Cao Dai followers all dressed in white and church leaders dress in colourful robes as they practice their faith in a manner that resembles Muslim prayers. Meanwhile the accompanying music performed by the choir at the second floor reminds me of a Catholic sect in the Philippines, where women are forbidden to cut their hair short.
The temple was overrun by tourists and available trips from Ho Chi Minh City were relatively quiet short to further learn more about this baffling religion, though it is quite intriguing to discover a monotheistic religion so diverse up to its pantheon of Holy people which includes Julius Caesar, Buddha, Sun Yat Sen, Jesus, Guan Yin, Muhammad, Victor Hugo and Joan of Arc.
Not to far from Cao Dai Temple is the 75-mile tunnel complex of Cu Chi at Cu Chi district.
Now a popular tourist destination, I must say that ingenuity on building those deadly traps and endurance to live inside these airless tunnels without food or water for many, many days was how the Viet Cong fought and survived the war.
I did try to enter the tunnels and convince myself that I will make it out to the third or four exits. I have no issue with small space, but the airlessness makes me turn back immediately towards the nearest exit.
A Visit to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnel both hour away from Ho Chi Minh City are considered as a good out of the city trip for those who have a spare time prior travelling forward to their next destination.
I am not sure how convenient it is to use series of public transportation to reach both location, but I think the offered tours at Pham Ngu Lao are reasonable enough to cover both places in a few hours.