Ha Tien, about 8km from the Cambodian border next to the Gulf of Thailand, is a town boasting both historical value and natural beauty. It sits on the Dong Ho Sea opposite To Chau Mountain with its green pepper gardens and the famous Phu Dung and Tam Bao pagodas.
Ha Tien, more than 300km from Ho Chi Minh City, derived its name from Vietnamese word tien which means fairies. Legend has it that the region’s enchanting landscape attracted fairies to visit.
Ha Tien was founded in 1679 when Chinese-born Mac Cuu, dissatisfied with the Qing Dynasty, travelled to Vietnam and established the town. As such, Ha Tien offers many scenic places of historical value including ancient tombs, pagodas and the mausoleum of Mac Cuu.
Built 300 years ago, the mausoleum is located on a large hill surrounded by giant old trees. Next to the mausoleum are tombs of Mac Cuu’s family members, decorated with carved figures of dragons, phoenixes, lions and guardians.
Thach Dong (Stone Grotto) is another attraction. A giant green stone jutting from the ground, it has a memorial stele of the event in 1977 when Pol Pot’s Cambodian army killed hundreds of people. According to legends, the grotto is also where the hero Thach Sanh killed a big cannibal in famous Vietnamese tale.
Upon entering the grotto further, tourists can see stalactites in various shapes including a cannibal and a long-haired lady believed to be Bodhisattva Kwan Yin. Not far from the grotto is the Xa Xia border gate for tourists who want to enter Cambodia, the land of Angkor Wat.
Chong Stone, Hang Pagoda and Hon Phu Tu (Father and Son rocks) which lies about 100m offshore are other interesting landscapes south of Ha Tien Sea.
Near Hon Chong Beach lies Tien Cave with two openings; the east door opens to the sea and the west door to Duoc Beach. Some suggests the many odd-shaped stone drops in the cave are part of Nguyen King’s gold throne. Many more attractions such as Nguyen Trung Truc and Pho Co Dieu temples and Phu Dung Pagoda exist in the area.
On early mornings, clouds linger on the hill peak where the mausoleum lies, obscuring the cave entrance. This image was made immortal in a poem by Mac Thien Tich, the eldest son of Mac Cuu. Over 260 years ago, Tich composed Thach Dong Thon Van (the stone grotto that swallows clouds) as part of a series of poems about Ha Tien’s attractions.
From Binh San Mount, Ha Tien looks romantic with the East Sea on one side and Voi Phuc Mount on the other. Between them are limestone mountains. With these landscapes, it is little wonder that Ha Tien residents are proud to call it “Ha Tien – ten landscapes.”