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Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple


A very much recommended day trip from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a combined visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai temple. Anyone who would want to understand some of Vietnamese recent history and how the present country came to being, should visit the tunnels. Anyone interested in a particular Vietnamese religion should visit the Cao Dai Temple.

The Cu Chi tunnels

Entrance to the Cu Chi Tunnels

Entrance to the Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels are a 121 km long complex of tunnels which the Vietcong used in the Vietnam War. The tunnels have been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and and a part of the tunnels have been turned into a war memorial park.

The tunnels were extensive and life was certainly not easy. As far as I was told, the Vietcong guerrilla had no maps of the tunnels as a precaution in case someone was taken hostage.

The tunnels have a complex 3 layer system including conference rooms, sleeping areas, kitchens and booby traps. A part of the complex is widened and made accessible as a tourist attraction.

Inside the Cu Chi tunnelsDuring the war, the tunnels were a constant thread to the Americans. They tried to map the tunnels with "tunnel rats", who eventually would recover a Vietcong headquarters. Later the area was heavily bombed too.

Going into the tunnels and actually experience a bit of life underground is a lifetime experience. Many of the Vietcong guerrillas didn't come above the ground for weeks. The darkness plus the malaria that killed many of the Vietcong, only increases the respect one should have for the determination of the guerrilla, regardless if you are in favor of their cause. A must visit!

You can do this tour by organized bicycle tour. Click here: A Day Biking The Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City for details.

The Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai is a monotheistic religion established in 1926. The center of the Cao Dai is the Cao Dai's Holy See or Tay Ninh Holy See, a huge and very beautiful temple, located in Tay Ninh.

The ideas of the Cao Dai (meaning "high place") are based on the Three Teachings.

  • Buddha
  • Sage (Wise old man)
  • Saint
Cao Dai Temple's garden

Cao Dai Temple's garden

Cao Dai Temple Tay NinhThe Three Teachings represent hierarchical levels of spiritual attainment, with Buddha as the highest. The Cao Dai believe in various stages of spiritual development, from human on up are: Thần (angel), Thánh (saint), Tiên (sage), and Phật (buddha). Angels, saints and sages may have, accordingly, extremely long lives in the realms of heaven, but only Buddha's are free from the cycle of birth and death.

The Cao Dai see God as the religion's founder. They believe the teachings, symbolism and organization were communicated directly from God. Even the construction of the Tay Ninh Holy See is claimed to have had divine guidance. The first disciples say they communicated with God, who gave them instructions for establishing a new religion.

As far as I understood the Cao Dai are very tolerant to other philosophies and religions who's leaders are seen in the view of the various stages of spiritual development.

The temple is worth a visit and easy to do in a day trip together with a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels. Several cafes in Saigon offer daytrips.

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Cao Dai in the Holy See Tay Ninh
Cao Dai in the Holy See Tay Ninh

Central Vietnam

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