|Bay Nui bull racing festival|
Associated with religious beliefs, Bay Nui is a multicultural, multinational and multi-religious region that holds various festivals throughout the year, most notably the Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival (also called the Via Ba ceremony) in Sam Mountain Ward, Chau Doc City.
It can be said that this is the biggest festival of the year in the Mekong River Delta region, attracting a large number of local people and visitors. The festival is held annually from the 24th to the 27th day of the fourth lunar month, featuring solemn rituals as well as activities imbued with spiritual characteristics which are associated with the local people’s fresh ground breaking and territory protection.
Ba Chua Xu Temple has grandiose and artistic architecture and features a sandstone statue of Ba Chua Xu who is known as the goddess of the realm. According to deputy head of Sam Mountain management committee Thai Cong No, the Ba Chua Xu temple relic site annually attracts millions of pilgrims and visitors, particularly during the festival.
Numerous other festivals, such as Bay Nui bull racing, festivals of the southern Khmer ethnic minority group, have also greatly contributed to increasing the number of visitors and pilgrims to the region. The festivals have become key tourism products that An Giang’s tourism sector has paid much attention to investing in and promoting.
In addition to spiritual cultural tourism, the Bay Nui region is famous for attractive destinations offering seasonal experiences including unique travel experiences during flood season (annually in September and October). Visitors can enjoy food processed from ‘ca linh’ (sacred fish) – a kind of fish from Cambodia's Tonle Sap to An Giang following the flow of water; visiting 850 ha Tra Su cajuput forest.
Over the past five years, the number of visitors to An Giang has increased 8.4% on average per year, bringing an increase of 17% per year in revenue. However, provincial agencies have not paid much attention to spiritual, cultural and ecological factors to tourism development. Last May, the An Giang tourism month was held for the first time, aiming to fully introduce local typical tourism products as well as attract more investment to bring the tourism become the province’s spearhead economic sector.