A trip to Vietnam's Chau Doc City would be incomplete without a visit to the sacred Sam Mountain, which is located in the heart of the Mekong Delta. Sam Mountain is mostly visited by local tourists and pilgrims, and it can get busy, especially on holidays.
Sam Mountain is well visited not only for its beautiful pagodas but also for the spectacular views of the An Giang province. If you have limited time, we know how it can be challenging to visit Sam mountain in a single day. That’s why we've put together a 1-day itinerary of what to see in Sam Mountain to help you make the most of your day trip from Chau Doc!
Don’t miss out our top tips on visiting as well as how to get to Sam Mountain and where to stay.
Where to Go on Sam Mountain
1. Top of Sam Mountain
Start your day early and head up to the summit of Sam Mountain to watch the sunrise. At the top, you will find a small temple, and even though it is not that special, the panoramic views of endless rice fields make this spot worth the visit.
Locals head up here to pray and enjoy the views while having some snacks at the local food and drink stalls. Apart from that, we found some birds being released at the top, which serves as one of their offerings. Once you pass the food stalls on the right, you will find more modern temples and infrastructure built for tourists. This area is also where the cable car stops.
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There are three ways to reach the top of Sam Mountain-by motorbike, on foot, and by cable car. The quickest route is to ride your motorcycle along the mountain's east side road. There are also a few local motorbike drivers you can hire to take you up the mountain, and they are waiting at the bottom. The parking at the summit costs less than 1 USD.
Tip: If you're feeling adventurous, you can also hike up the mountain via the north side pathway.
For the best views, take the cable car up the mountain. The gondola runs for 900 meters, and each car seats up to eight people. However, it is only available from 7am to 5pm and tickets can be purchased at location. A roundtrip ticket for an adult costs around 7 USD. Your ticket includes a free meal at the mountain's base restaurant.
2. Long Son Pagoda
Long Son Pagoda is worth a stop on your way back down the mountain. There aren't many people who come to see this pagoda, so it's peaceful and quiet. In addition to having stunning architecture, it has scenic views of the town below and the rice fields.
3. Hang Pagoda
The Hang Pagoda, which is also referred to as the Phuoc Dien Temple, is without a doubt the most stunning structure on Sam Mountain. If you do not have the time to spend on all the other temples, we recommend at least visiting this one.
Not only is it very picturesque and artistically constructed on the side of the hill, but it is also very calm and peaceful despite many pilgrims and tourists visiting. We recommend visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat.
4. Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb
This famous tomb, also known as Son Lang, is worth a quick stop when visiting Sam Mountain. Thoai Ngoc Hau was a martial general who contributed to the country's unification and development. That is why locals pay their respects and offer prayers and offerings at the tomb. The tomb also has a peaceful, dignified, and respectful atmosphere. The tomb complex is enclosed by brick walls and has two large entrances. As you pass through the gate, you'll notice three tombs, with Thoai Ngoc Hau in the center and his two wives on either side.
5. Ba Chua Xu Temple
The Ba Chua Xu Temple, located at the foot of Sam Mountain, is one of the most visited temples. The sacred statue of Ba Chua is housed within a beautifully constructed temple with four square roofs covered in blue pile-shaped tiles.
Locals believe that the Ba Chua statue is Vietnam's oldest sandstone statue. With all of the locals coming here to pray, burn incense, and make offerings, it can get quite crowded, but it's also an interesting sight to see.
6. Tay An Co Tu Pagoda
The Tay An Co Tu Pagoda is another interesting stop for those who enjoy exploring ancient architectural structures. It's near the Ba Chua Xu Temple at the foot of Sam Mountain. This temple stands out from the other pagodas on Sam Mountain due to its dominant yellow color, which makes the structure vibrant.
The temple's architecture is also a mix of ancient Vietnamese and Indian styles. What we liked best about this temple were the sophisticated and elaborate carvings on the buildings, as well as the sacred atmosphere surrounding the temple, with many devotees visiting and praying.
How to Get to Sam Mountain
The best way to explore Sam Mountain is to rent a motorcycle, which you can get from your hotel. This will make it easier for you to travel from one temple to the next. Just keep in mind that you will most likely be charged a parking fee of less than 1 USD. We've also seen some local motorbikes transporting passengers, but we're not sure how much it costs.
Tip: If you decide to ride a motorbike, make sure you have travel insurance in case of an emergency. Get one now with Heymondo and get 5% off for being our reader!
If you're coming from Chau Doc, you can also book a taxi to take you to the foot of Sam Mountain, where the majority of the temples are. The drive takes about 15 minutes.
Where to Stay in Sam Mountain
There are plenty of hotels located at the base which will give you quick access to visiting the Sam Mountain. Most are located within walking distance to the main temples including the Ba Chua Xu Temple. Majority of these hotels offer basic accommodations.
If you are looking to stay right on Sam Mountain, then book Victoria Lodge. We were unable to stay at the property because it was fully booked, but we have heard great things about it and it has high ratings on Booking.com.
Travelers were raving about the excellent panoramic views of the endless rice fields at the spacious balconies. Alongside the attentive staff and excellent location. There is also a restaurant at the property you can enjoy.
We stayed at Fami Nguyen Homestay, just located between Chau Doc center and Sam Mountain. The location is ideal if you have your own transportation so you can discover both Chau Doc center and the temples. The homestay offers basic and comfortable accommodation for an affordable price.
Tips on Visiting Sam Mountain
- Start your day early. This will give you time to explore as many temples as you can, especially if you only have a day.
- Dress appropriately. Remember you are visiting temples so do avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.
- Bring a hat and don’t forget your sunscreen. It can get quite hot during the day so protect yourself as much as you can.
- Drink plenty of water. You will find many vendors outside the temples selling water so make sure you keep hydrated.
- Be respectful. There are signs asking devotees to remove shoes before entering the temple as well as not taking photos. Pay attention to these signs and adhere to them.
- Avoid visiting on weekends or holidays. Sam mountain is a very popular destination for pilgrims and among local tourists. This means that there will always be crowds at the temples. Which can double during the weekends and holidays.
And that’s the short guide to visiting Sam Mountain in Chau Doc.
From the breathtaking views of the Mekong Delta to the serene atmosphere of the pagodas and temples, a trip to Sam Mountain is an unforgettable experience you should not miss.
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