Chau Doc is a sacred land with many pagodas and temples; In the Sam mountain area alone, there are over 150 pagodas, temples, and joss houses… scattered on the slopes and at the foot of the hills. And Sam mountain preserves stories from the time when the southern land had a fresh climate, windy winds, and gathered clusters of meaningful historical and cultural relics to become an attractive destination of Chau Doc. Typically, there is Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Sam Mountain, next to Hang Pagoda, Tay An Pagoda, and The Lady Temple.

Legend of Mr. Thoai Ngo Hau and the story of opening up the border area

Thoai Ngoc Hau (Vietnamese Thoại Ngọc Hầu) (1761 – 1829) was the founder of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnamese history. He was born on November 26, 1761 in An Hai village, Dien Phuoc district, Dien Ban district, Quang Nam province (now An Hai Tay ward, Son Tra, Da Nang) during the Trinh – Nguyen war. In 1775, he followed his mother to the south to escape the war, settling in Thoi Binh village on Dai Island (now part of Vinh Long). At the age of 16 (1777), he joined the Nguyen army, was present in the battle to retake Gia Dinh citadel (1778, 1787-1789) and held the position of commander and envoy of Binh Tay general in coordination with Laos to fight the Tay Son army.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

In 1802, Nguyen Anh unified the country, he was appointed as an envoy to command the troops and was sent to conquer the North Citadel, defend Lang Son, and finally defend Dinh Tuong (1808). In 1816, he was summoned to the capital Hue and took on the task of guarding Vinh Thanh town.
In addition to his great contribution to helping Gia Long Emperor unify the country, Thoai Ngoc Hau is also remembered by the people of Chau Doc and An Giang for his merits in opening up the land, reclaiming land and establishing hamlets. His construction projects have great economic and transportation value, transforming the frontier wastelands into prosperous places.

General information of Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb is a famous spiritual space in Nui Sap town, Thoai Son district, An Giang province. This is a work associated with Thoai Son stele that has undergone many changes over time but still retains its ancient and mysterious beauty.
Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Many researchers believe that this is Vinh Te Son stele, erected in 1828 (4 years after completing the excavation of Vinh Te canal).

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Sculpture on ancient stone stele

Talking about Thoai Ngoc Hau’s contributions to the land of An Giang as well as the entire Southern region, it is extremely great and indescribable. He gathered the people, cleared the land, and developed agriculture. Under his management, deserted areas and unvisited forests became lush fields where people gathered to live in peace and prosperity. In particular, his greatest contribution to the South was organizing the digging of two strategic canals, Thoai Ha canal and Vinh Te canal, which were extremely important in transportation and trade at that time.
Vinh Te Canal

Vinh Te Canal

Many other old creeks were expanded, creating a premise for the economic and cultural development of the local people area later. The local people established Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb to express their admiration and gratitude to a figure who contributed to building and reclaiming land. At the temple, there is also Thoai Son stone stele and oil trees hundreds of years old, creating the unique beauty of this architecture. Currently, Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb has been awarded a gold plaque by the Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations and is among the Top 100 impressive destinations.

Architecture of Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

The entire mausoleum area is a harmonious architectural block. The tomb is surrounded by thick, sturdy cast walls higher than a person’s head. In front are two large semicircular doors following the architectural style of ancient mausoleums, with two opposing rows of tureens on both sides.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb located at the foot of Sam Moutain

To enter the tomb, you must go through 9 laterite steps transported from the East. In front of the tomb is a large yard, inside there is a replica of Thoai Son stele. The middle area is tombs and a temple, on both sides are two rows of anonymous graves.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

The first square has the tombs of Mr. Thoai’s two wives on both sides: the main wife, Mrs. Chau Thi Te (Vietnamese: Châu Thị Tế) and the second wife, Truong Thi Miet (Vietnamese: Trương Thị Miệt), the second wife’s grave is lower to show respect.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Tomb of Mrs. Chau Thi Te

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

In the middle is the grave of Thoai Ngoc Hau. In front of each grave there is a screen, and at the foot of the grave is an inscription.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Tomb of Mr. Thoai Ngoc Hau

In addition, on both sides of the mausoleum grounds there are tombs of many different shapes: oval, elephant-shaped, peach-shaped, hat-shaped… These are all anonymous tombs of courtiers and relatives. Tribesmen and villagers and militiamen died while participating in digging the Vinh Te canal. Legend has it that the grave shaped like a peach and a hat was the main peach in the theater troupe that performed for him when he was still alive.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Next is his temple, built extremely majestic and splendid, with its back leaning against the rolling cliffs, creating an extremely majestic.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

In the temple, the decoration is extremely sophisticated. In the middle of the temple is a 2m high bust of Thoai Ngoc Hau with enough crowns and belts like during the court, looking out to Vinh Te canal, creating a very solemn atmosphere.

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

In the temple, there are also countless other valuable treasures such as horizontal panels, tureens, epitaphs, orations, and majestic poems praising the merits of predecessors, evoking a glorious time the years they spent colonizing and expanding the land. Right next to his temple is a gallery where you can visit to learn about anecdotes associated with him. 

Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

His cup tea

Places to visit near Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb

Near Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb, there are many places to visit: Tay An Pagoda, Hang Pagoda (Phuoc Dien Pagoda), The Lady Temple… Further down the mountain, there is Huynh Dao Pagoda – a unique dragon pagoda on the water. Visitors can combine tours to visit the entire cluster of these locations in the same day.
On the remaining days, visitors can take advantage of Chau Doc market – the kingdom of fish sauce; Chau Doc floating fishing village; Chau Giang Cham village or Da Phuoc Cham village… A little further away, there is Tra Su Melaleuca forest, Lau pagoda, Banh Xeo pagoda. These are all outstanding attractions of An Giang tourism that you should not miss.

Source: collected by An