Go for the views rather than the temples
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th September, 2018
Calling Sam Mountain (Nui Sam) a mountain is a stretch—it is more like a small hill that just looks big because so much of the rest of the Delta is as flat as a pancake.
Misnomers aside, the “mountain” has two main attractions—a cluster of temples at the northern base, and the viewpoint from the summit. The hill is roughly 6km to the southwest of Chau Doc. Our advice is if you are “templed out” skip them and just hire a xe-om in Chau Doc to whisk you straight up to the summit so you can enjoy the views. If you want to take a peak at the temples, read on.
The three primary sites are conveniently set along the northern base of the mountain, and running west to east they are the Tomb of Thoai Ngoc Hau, Chua Xu Temple and, to the east, Tay An pagoda.
The first is a tomb for Thoai Ngoc Hau, a high–ranking official of the 19th century—he is flanked by the tombs of his two wives and other tombs in the area correspond to people who worked for him. Buried with your boss, fancy that.
Next along is Chua Xu, notable for the offerings of entire roast pigs given up here. The temple was quite busy when we visited and there were at least a half dozen pigs on the bench. No photos are allowed at the inner area off the temple. Last but not least, Tay An is known for the many photogenic statues and the quite outlandish colour schemes and statuary.
Once you are done with the temples, organise a xe-om (they will find you) to whisk you to the summit. We paid 50,000 dong for the run up and back including waiting time. The ride takes you past the entrance to the Victoria Nui Sam Lodge along the way, we didn’t have a look inside, but we imagine the views would be pretty special.
Ongoing roadworks in mid 2018 suggest the road (appalling for years)—will be improving soon. At the summit there are plenty of cafes with hammocks should you want to while away some some enjoying the excellent views.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.