Photo: Chua Chim in Tra Vinh.

Things to see and do

50/1 Le Loi, Tra Vinh

If you’re in Tra Vinh just a short time and lack your own transport, the attractive and calming Chua Ong Met is set amongst a mixed stand of palms and shade trees and is a classic Khmer-style pagoda that wouldn’t be at all out of place anywhere in Cambodia.

Bayonish. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Bayonish. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The red-ochre four-faced Bayon style pedestals dotted through the grounds are a bit of a peculiarity—not something we’ve seen elsewhere—and while they clash with the otherwise sedate setting, they are photogenic.

Best visited in the late afternoon, just before the sun dips behind the tall trees around the complex, the warm rays really bring out the yellow in the buildings and the pretty two–tone blue doors. We also love the decorative arches and the wooden shuttered barred windows.

We love Chua Ong Met’s doors. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

We love Chua Ong Met’s doors. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Within the main enclosure also note the beautiful, cool under foot, floor tiles, the Khmer script running along the base of the murals and the super-solid wooden columns holding the roof up. Allow perhaps 20 to 30 minutes for a wander.

As you’re in the area, right next door is Tra Vinh Cathedral. While it is an active church, the gates have been locked on each of our visits to Tra Vinh—perhaps you’ll have more luck. You’ll find Chua Ong Met on the western side of Le Loi. Walk north—you can’t miss it.

About 5.5 km southwest of downtown Tra Vinh

At the south western outskirts of Tra Vinh, Chua Ang is set within a towering forest grove a world away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, but this is more than just another Khmer style temple.

Don’t forget to look up. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Don’t forget to look up. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The temple itself is impressive. The central alter houses a seated Buddha flanked by two standing ones, while the walls are decorated with temple paintings and the roof is held up by four rows of lovely wooden pillars. Allow your eyes to run up the pillars and enjoy the brightly painted ceiling.

As with Chua Ong Met, the colouring of this temple, especially the two tone blue wooden doors and shutters, is very pleasing to the eye. We guess one of the monks has a bit of a green finger as the gardens are defined by immaculate and very manicured topiary, and the grounds, thanks to the towering trees are peaceful and calming.

Within the sanctuary. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Within the sanctuary. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Directly across from the temple sits the Khmer Cultural Museum. This free museum contains a collection of displays ranging from traditional dance and performance, weaving and masks through to agricultural displays and religious objects. It isn’t worth walking across Vietnam to see, but if you’re at Chua Ang, pop in—the price is right!

Also nearby is the rectangular Ba Om—an in–part lotus covered pond whose banks are popular for a bit of a canoodle between locals. Like the temple this is a peaceful spot and if you’re having a slow day you could laze around here for an hour or so without too much trouble.

Strike a pose at the Khmer Cultural Museum. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Strike a pose at the Khmer Cultural Museum. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Chua Ang is around 5.5km to the southwest of Tra Vinh. To reach it, ride out on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and just keep going. Eventually you will reach an enormous roundabout, turn right here and take the first major left. The left takes you around 500 metres southwest to the eastern bank of the lake. The temple is beyond the southern bank of the lake.

Dien Bien Phu, about 300m south of the bus station

Also known as Kompong Chray, Chua Hang is a 17th century Khmer style temple situated just to the south of Tra Vinh’s bus station and is worth a visit both for the temple and the hundreds of storks that roost there.

The real attraction is above you. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

The real attraction is above you. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The name Chua Hang means “cave temple” supposedly a reference to the curious tunnel–like entrance on the main road. Once through, continue straight through the grove and you’ll reach the temple.

If the birds are roosting, you’ll hear them long before you see them, and you’ll also well and truly smell their guano. We’d guess there were hundreds of nests in the trees immediately surrounding the temple—if you look up, keep your mouth closed!

Make a moment and step inside to take a breath. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Make a moment and step inside to take a breath. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The temple itself is not in as good a condition as some of the others in Tra Vinh—paint is peeling off the walls and ceiling—and it lacks the more pleasing yellowish colouring. Tourists tend to visit here to see the birds. Allow 15 minutes to walk around the site—watch out for those bird droppings!

To reach Chua Hang, head straight south out of town on Dien Bien Phu. The temple is around 5.5 kilometres to the south of Cho Tra Vinh and about 300 meters (walking distance) south of the bus station, so if you’ve for 45 minutes to kill waiting for a bus to leave, go for a wander.

Dien Bien Phu, Tra Vinh. About 3.5 km south of downtown

With the generally sedate colouring of most of Tra Vinh’s Khmer style temples, Chau Mac Don is a bit of an assault on the senses, at least the visual ones, and it worth a visit on solely that account.

Bright colours. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Bright colours. Photo: Stuart McDonald

We have lemon–lime coloured pillars, yellow walls with orange–apricot edgings, blue, pink and red garudas (yes really), all with a more traditional mostly orange tiled ceiling. This is the kind of building that when you take a photo of it it automatically looks like you photoshopped it.

We’re unsure why the temple has the colour scheme it does, and it makes for a pleasant 15 minute wander through. The central shrine is likewise colourful with intricately painted roof pillars, temple stories painted on the walls and a flamboyantly painted ceiling—at least the floor is ordinary and white.

You could almost eat it. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

You could almost eat it. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Chua Mac Don is around 3.5 km south of town on Dien Bien Phu and makes for an easy combination with a visit to Chua Hang. It is about 1.5 km to the north of the bus station.

5 Nguyen Dang, Tra Vinh

Set to the south of town, near the bus station, Chua Phuong sits in a large stand of forest to the south of downtown Tra Vinh.

Back in the day ... Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Back in the day ... Photo: Stuart McDonald

This site is worth visiting not so much for the new pagoda (though it does have lollipop-styled columns within), but for the ruined old pagoda which sits in the eastern part of the forest enclosure.

It’s little more than an overgrown pile of rubble, but it tickled our fancy. The roof has all collapsed, but parts of the walls remain as does sections of the balustrades and staircases. As with all the Khmer temples we’ve listed, Chua Phuong is in a forest grove and you’ll be surprised just how quickly the drone of the traffic drops away.

We love the tall trees and the calming vibe here. Photo taken in or around Tra Vinh, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

We love the tall trees and the calming vibe here. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The temple is on Nguyen Dang towards the southern reaches of Tra Vinh, but the primary entrance is on Son Thong, a road which is a southbound continuation of Kien Thi Nhan and runs to the south midway along Nguyen Dang. This is a walkable distance from the central market, which is about 1.5km away.





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Where are you planning on heading to after Tra Vinh? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Vietnam.


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