Con Phung Island, the peak of natural beauty and folk culture in Ben Tre, is vividly captured in its purest form. With luscious fruit orchards, endless stretches of coconut palms, and rustic traditional houses, this place transports us back to the origins of life, where humanity and nature harmoniously create a mystical and enchanting scenery. It is not merely a tourist spot; it is a profound experience where travelers immerse themselves in the blend of fresh nature and unique cultural traditions.
Con Phung is not just a destination; it is a journey to explore the essence of culture and nature in Southern Vietnam, where travelers are engulfed in the wonders of their homeland and the warm hospitality of Ben Tre’s locals.
Con Phung, also known as Tan Vinh Islet, is a sandbar located in the middle of the Tien River, in Tan Thach commune, Chau Thanh district, Ben Tre province. It is part of the “Four Sacred Animals” system, along with Long (Dragon), Lan (Unicorn), Quy (Tortoise), and Phung (Phoenix). While Quy and Phung of Con Phung belong to Ben Tre province, Long and Lan are in Tien Giang province. The terms “cồn” or “cù lao” are commonly used in various regions of Vietnam, especially in the Southern part, to refer to mid-river islets formed in large rivers due to the continuous accumulation of alluvial soil.
Initially, Con Phung was just a small sandbar in the Tien River, covering an area of about 28 hectares in the 1930s. However, due to the continuous sediment deposition, its size has expanded to over 50 hectares. The name “Con Phung” originated when Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nam, during the construction of the Nam Quoc Phat Pagoda in the early 20th century, discovered an ancient cup shaped like a phoenix. In commemoration of this discovery, the place was named Con Phung. Additionally, it is also known as “Coconut Religion Islet” because Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nam established a religious sect called Dao Dua when building the Nam Quoc Phat Pagoda; therefore, he is also called Coconut Monk. This sect advocates for peace and harmonious living with nature, particularly through agriculture and horticulture.
With its majestic natural scenery of rivers and water, combined with lush gardens and a variety of entertainment activities and services, Con Phung attracts thousands of tourists every year for sightseeing and unique experiences.
Visiting the Dao Dua Relic area in Con Phung, you cannot miss exploring the Hoa Binh Tower, a unique and fascinating attraction. This tower captures attention with its exquisite beauty, crafted from fragments of ceramic vases depicting dragons and phoenixes, creating intricate and alluring patterns. Upon closer inspection, one can appreciate the sharpness and classical elegance in the architecture of the tower, adorned with vibrant colors.
The Hoa Binh Tower, an octagonal structure with nine floors, is not only a visually stunning architectural marvel but also a place where the spiritual essence of heaven and earth converges. It is also the spot where Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nam, the contemporary religious leader, disseminated his teachings, creating a space filled with spirituality and history.
Located at the center of the historical site is the Nine Dragons Courtyard, where there are nine towering pillars intricately carved with majestic and imposing dragon figures. These dragons, representing power and grandeur, are painted in vibrant gold against a cool blue background, creating exquisite, elegant, and dignified architectural elements. This dragon courtyard area is known as the ceremonial grounds for Dao Dua followers. Surrounding the courtyard are welcoming gates, pathways, tall towers, mountain models, caves, and more.
Here, you can offer incense and seek blessings from the Dao Dua deity. The Ben Tre Con Phung tourist area welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors annually who come to explore and shop.
Apollo spacecraft is also a highlight spot in the Dao Dua Relic area, which is a tin model, becoming the place where Mr. Coconut Monk climbs high for his disciples to pull up, seeking the divine guidance of the Jade Emperor. This Tower signifies not only the dream of exploring the universe but also a symbol of boundless tolerance, transcending all spatial distances pursued by Coconut Monk.
Visiting Con Phung, you not only get to explore the natural beauty of this charming countryside but also witness the entire process of making delicious and authentic coconut candies, deeply rooted in the culture of the Southwestern region of Vietnam. Here, every step of the candy-making process, from blending and cooking to cutting and packaging, is overflowing with the heartfelt dedication and love of the local farmers.
The freshness of natural ingredients combined with the skillful hands of talented artisans creates these exquisite coconut candies, which embody the distinct flavor of Ben Tre countryside. You who visit these candy workshops not only witness the candy-making process but also actively participate, immersing themselves in the warm atmosphere of the traditional craft village. Alongside the locals, you can experience the simple joy of crafting these delicate candies and, intertwined with that, the happiness of carrying sweet coconut candy packages as meaningful gifts for their family and friends. This experience encapsulates the essence of the journey to explore Ben Tre.
Con Phung currently has still existed a traditional occupation, which is beekeeping for honey. You can easily visit a family engaged in beekeeping to learn more about honey production. The majority of bees in this area harvest honey from longan flowers, resulting in honey that is not only tasty but also fragrant. Besides enjoying delicious honey tea, you may also purchase this honey as a present for your beloved.
Another attractive experience when visiting Con Phung is that you will have the opportunity to interact with and listen to artists performing Southern amateur music, a traditional music genre of Vietnam recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. At the Con Phung tourist area, visitors can immerse themselves in this prestigious specialty in traditional thatched-roof houses, true to the essence of the Mekong Delta. While enjoying the musical performance, you will also be served various local fruits such as longan, rambutan, papaya, melon, and guava, etc.
Ben Tre, renowned as the coconut land of Vietnam, boasts a specialty known as coconut core salad. The main ingredient as its name is coconut core, nestled within the upper reaches of coconut trees. It is sweet, fresh, refreshing, and very nutritious, particularly in minerals, and it’s healthy for the digestive system.
Coconut core salad has a complex fragrance and rich, nutty taste, harmonized with the sweetness of pork and shrimp, creating a unique and delicious specialty that is incredibly tantalizing. Coconut core salad is a traditional dish often prepared by locals to treat distant guests, gradually becoming an indispensable delicacy of the homeland of coconuts.
On the list of delicious dishes in Con Phung, the deep-fried elephant ear fish is undoubtedly a must-try. This is a species of fish living in freshwater, with a large and flat shape resembling an elephant’s ear, hence the name “elephant ear fish.” When preparing it, locals usually do not remove the fish scales but directly put them into hot oil, frying them until crispy. Fried elephant ear fish is often served with rice paper, various fresh herbs, and a bowl of dipping sauce, either fish sauce with garlic and chili or sweet and sour fish sauce, depending on personal preference. When enjoying it, you will wrap a piece of fried elephant ear fish with rice paper, add some fresh herbs and sour fruits like starfruit and green banana, and then dip it generously in the flavorful dipping sauce. The distinctive, delicious aroma of this dish will enchant you.
If you are still wondering what to eat in Con Phung, Con Phung fried sticky rice is a great option. Locals in Con Phung also refer to this tasty delicacy as the “dinosaur egg” because of its imposingly large form. Con Phung fried sticky rice has an odd shape, bulging like attractive spherical yellow appearance balls. The outer shell of this specialty dish is formed of cooked, aromatic sticky rice crushed into a fine powder and then steeped in sugar and cooking oil. Inside the sticky rice shell is a seasoned green bean filling with salt, sugar, and pepper. When frying, use a hot pan of lard and move quickly, frequently flipping the sticky rice until it gets the proper roundness and puffiness. Con Phung fried sticky rice goes well with chicken and spring rolls, and it’s even better with a drink.
Although it sounds simple, boiled shirmp in coconut water is one of the delicious dishes in Con Phung that easily conquers any diner. The appeal of this dish lies in the red, juicy shrimp and the rich coconut juice. The rich, fragrant flavor of Ben Tre coconut blends in each piece of firm shrimp meat to create a delicious and attractive dish that is difficult for food lovers to resist.
Boast for warm and sunny all year round, Con Phung welcomes you to pay a visit all year.
The atmosphere changes dramatically here during the energetic summer months of June, July, and August. The islet is covered in thick vegetation, and the trees are covered with colorful leaves, creating an attractive view. Particularly fruit trees spring to life during this period, with their branches bowing under the weight of a bumper crop. Since there are so many fruit trees that produce delicious delicacies in the summer, it is a food adventurer’s paradise.
Whether you are a specialist in exotic fruits or simply seeking the tranquility of a sunny retreat, this enchanting islet ensures a memorable and sensory-rich experience, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the wonders of its warm embrace throughout the sunny days of June, July, and August.
To travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Ben Tre, it will take you approximately 1.5-2 hours. First, you will cross the Rach Mieu Bridge, then turn left to continue along the riverside road. Here, there is a ferry pier that will take you to Con Phung. If you prefer not to use the ferry, you can also go to the boat pier in My Tho and rent a boat based on the number of people to reach Con Phung. There are some options for transportation from Ho Chi Minh City to Ben Tre; depending on your preferences and financial conditions, you can choose from motorbikes to buses, airplanes, etc.
To visit Con Phung, you will have to pay a fee of 40,000 VND for one adult and 20,000 VND for a child. Additionally, if you want to use the recreational services at the Con Phung area, you will have to pay an additional fee. For example, for recreational fishing, the service prices include two levels: catch and release fishing costs 100,000 VND per rod, and catch and keep fishing costs 2,000,000 VND per hour (including fishing rod and bait).
Take Insight Mekong Delta – Ben Tre Tour to immerse yourself in the tranquil space of Con Phuung, feel the breath of nature, and listen to the rhythm of the rustic life.
Deluxe Group Tours offers unforgettable experiences during your journey to explore the land of Ben Tre. These are fairy tales about the homeland and the lives of the people here, from making roads and coconut water to making candies.