Introducing Tay Ninh
Tay Ninh town, the capital of Tay Ninh province, serves as the headquarters of one of Vietnam’s most intriguing indigenous religions, Cao Daism. The Cao Dai Great Temple at the sect’s Holy See is one of the most unusual structures in all of Asia. Built between 1933 and 1955, the temple is a rococo extravaganza combining the conflicting architectural idiosyncrasies of a French church, a Chinese pagoda and Hong Kong’s Tiger Balm Gardens.
Tay Ninh province, northwest of HCMC, is bordered by Cambodia on three sides. The area’s dominant geographic feature is Nui Ba Den (Black Lady Mountain), which towers above the surrounding plains. Tay Ninh province’s eastern border is formed by the Saigon River. The Vam Co River flows from Cambodia through the western part of the province.
Because of the once-vaunted political and military power of the Cao Dai, this region was the scene of prolonged and heavy fighting during the Franco–Viet Minh War. Tay Ninh province served as a major terminus of the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the American War, and in 1969 the Viet Cong captured Tay Ninh town and held it for several days.
During the period of conflict between Cambodia and Vietnam in the late 1970s, the Khmer Rouge launched a number of cross-border raids into Tay Ninh province and committed atrocities against civilians. Several cemeteries around Tay Ninh are stark reminders of these events.