During our travels in Asia, we've seen what seems like a hundred temples, and by the end of our third month, we really weren't too keen on seeing more. However, our tour guide told us that this one would be different than any we had seen, and we would be exposed to an entirely new and entirely Vietnamese religion, so we figured what the heck.
We combined this day with a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, and it was about 6.5 hours of driving for about 1.5 hours of sightseeing. To get to the temple was about 3 hours, 1.5 hours of sitting in traffic in Saigon followed by 1.5 hours of driving through the countryside. Then it was about another 1.5 hours back to Cu Chi Tunnels, and another about 2 hours to get back to our hotel from there. There are half-day tours to Cu Chi Tunnels which will cut out about 2.5 hours of driving if you don't need to see the temple.
Was it worth the drive? I'm not sure. The temple is really cool actually, nothing at all like the Buddhist temples scattered throughout Asia. It is bright and colorful, reminds me of that Fairyland Castle at Disneyland. You can go inside and see the noon mass which is definitely the thing to do if you've come all the way up here. The worshippers are in Red, Yellow, and Blue costumes to depict Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity respectively, as this unique religion draws from all three. One of the three saints of Cao Dai is Victor Hugo, the French Poet. Very strange.
This religion is unique to Vietnam and growing. You can see other Cao Dai temples around southern Vietnam, but this is the main one (think The Vatican for Catholicism). It is not humongous, but sizeable, very interesting to see. The worshippers sing and play music throughout the mass, there is no preacher or sermons per se.
We were happy we saw the temple, but man was it a lot of driving, and it only took us about 45 minutes to spend there. Just depends on how interested you are I guess. I think we would probably pass on the temple if we had it to do over again, as 6.5 hours of driving in one day left us really beat at the end of the day.
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