Soc Trang city is about 240km south of Ho Chi Minh city and 60 km southeast of Can Tho city. The name “Soc Trang” comes from a Khmer name “Srok Kh'leang” which means “a place where silver is stored”. This is also where most of Khmer people live. Therefore, beside Kinh’s culture (the major people in Viet Nam), Khmer cultural characteristics can be seen everywhere, especially at Khmer pagodas.
Like most provinces in Mekong Delta, Soc Trang has two distinguish seasons: wet season from May to November and dry season from December to April of the following year. You should visit Soc Trang in the dry season to avoid unexpected rains.
The highlight in Soc Trang is pagodas. Most of them were built under the influence of Khmer culture. Thus, it is easy to recognize the unique designs of Khmer people with scrupulous attention to detail. The most famous pagoda in Soc Trang is Dơi pagoda or Bat Pagoda. This is where thousands of bats used to stay, hanging their body under the pagoda’s roofs or threes. Unfortunately, in 2010, a fire destroyed most of the furniture. Beside Bat pagoda, Khleang pagoda, which is one of the oldest pagodas in Soc Trang is known for its harmony combination of great buildings and nature. The Clay Pagoda is famous for its clay Buddhist statues and dragon sculptures. There are also 6 giant candles here, which can keep burning for 60 years. One more well-known pagoda is Chén Kiểu pagoda where you will be impressed by the sophisticated design by china.
Soc Trang Clay Pagoda is situated at the heart of the city, with the more formal name Buu Son Tu. From the outside, the pagoda resembles more of a resident house than a pagoda, without any pillar or wooden panel like typical pagoda architecture.
Like the Stork Garden of Tan Long, Clay Pagoda is another privately owned attraction. Mr. Ngo Kim Tong had devoted his past 42 years constructing 1901 Buddha statues, 200 animal statues, along with other worshipping items from clay materials and his Ngo family will surprise you with many more stories during your visit. You will soon find out that the pagoda also houses very special candles, each of which can be as heavy as 200kg and as tall as 1.6m. The pagoda patrol said that each candle will take about 70 years to burn.
Tan Long Stork Garden
One of the many off-the-beaten-path attraction, Tan Long Stork Garden deserves all your attention, if you still wonder what a typical Mekong Delta landscape looks like. From Nga Nam township where Nga Nam floating market is located, follow provincial highway 42 for 5km until you reach Tan Long stork market. You can also rent a canoe down the river to visit the garden.
Surprisingly, the garden was initiated and sustained by a local man – named Huynh Van Muoi. He has spent his past 32 years forming a space where Vietnamese white stork can land and take off, co-exist and reproduce. At the center of the garden is a 10m high tower which allows you to enjoy a breath-taking view from above onto the garden.
In addition to bird-watching activities, you can also enjoy the traditional music performance and dishes of Southern Vietnam in Tan Long Stork Garden. This family-based ecological reserve can be ideally combined with a visit to Nga Nam Floating market, as morning trip or lunch stop.
Nga Nam Floating Market
Each floating market in the Mekong Delta has something to differ itself from the rest. Nga Nam market in Soc Trang province is special because it is the convergent point of five rivers which flow into five different directions: onto Ca Mau, down from Phung Hien, through to Thanh Tri, in from Vinh Quoi and across from Long My – and so it acquires its particular name “Nga Nam”.
Thanks to its critical location, the market becomes a central points to hundreds of boats and canoes, selling all types of goods. The market scene becomes even more lively toward the end of the Lunar New Year.
The best time to visit Nga Nam floating market is early in the morning, when the sun is crawling up east and many locals are already there, ready for trading – boats after boats. You can find just almost anything – from rice, meat, fresh fruits and other staple to TV and electronic goods. Nga Nam is undoubtedly one of the most busiest floating markets in the South of Vietnam.
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