The draw here is the 59 metre-long reclining Buddha.
It's impressive size was enough to peak our interest, but when we heard you could ride up to it by cable car, we had to see it.
The Blissed out Buddha is only about 25 km west of Phan Triet along highway 1A. Once you enter the grounds, a round-trip ticket on the cable car costs 50,000 VND, and an extra 5,000 for the electric trolley to whisk you from the entrance gate to the base of the cable car station -- a trip of less than a kilometre so you can skip it and walk if you like. When things aren't busy the cable car leaves every half-hour or more, so allow for some waiting time. It's basically a ski lift that hefts you up the mountain over a rise and down to the base of the site. The trip covers just over 1.5 kilometres, takes about six minutes, and offers some beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding lowlands, criss-crossed with rice fields and dragonfruit tree plantations -- in itself, worth the trip.
Once you get to the base of the site, you walk 200m up various sets of steepish stairs passing various statues along the way, until you reach the main attraction. It's called Thich Ca Nhap Niet Ban, which means 'Buddha entering Nirvana.' The Buddha is awesome. Yes, the girth in itself is designed to impress, but most visitors are struck by the Buddha's finely wrought visage -- luxuriating with closed eyes and beatific smile -- creased with crinkles at the corners -- and radiating a combination of serene calm and a hint of what can only be described as personal satisfaction.
How to get there
To get to Ta Cu Mountain from Phan Thiet, just head west on Tran Hung Dao St and keep going for 25 km. The entrance is on the left.
Last updated on 23rd May, 2007.