Mekong Delta Travel Guide

Mekong Delta Sights

Island of the Coconut Monk (Ong Dau Dua)

  • Island

Published 06/20/2019

Fodor's Review

About 2 km (1 mile) from My Tho, on the Mekong River, is Phoenix Island, better known as the Island of the Coconut Monk. A religious sanctuary before the war, the island once had a garish, eclectic complex in a style similar to the Caodai Holy See in Tay Ninh. It was built in the 1940s by a French-educated engineer-turned-monk named Nguyen Thanh Nam, nicknamed the Coconut Monk by locals because he reputedly lived for some years on nothing but coconuts. The monk presided over a small community of followers, teaching a religion that combined elements of Buddhism and Christianity. He was imprisoned repeatedly, first by the Saigon regime and later by the Communists for antigovernment activities; he died in 1990. All that is left of the monk's utopian dreams are some dragons and gargoyles and columns with mythical creatures wrapped around them.

Phoenix Island is one of My Tho's four islands named after mythical beasts—Dragon (Con Tan Long), Tortoise (Con Qui), and Unicorn (Con Lan)

are the other three. Tours from My Tho usually visit all four, stopping at tourist pavilions where coconut candy, local honey, rice wine, and local musicians await. Organizing a visit through a reputable travel agency in Ho Chi Minh City is recommended to avoid the contrived tourist trail followed by the local government–controlled tour companies. If you do take a local tour, be sure to explore the islands beyond the tourist centers by strolling the narrow lanes to see the fruit orchards and get glimpses of local life. Boats leave from Trung Trac Street, next to Mekong tributary.

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Sight Information

Address:

My Tho, Tien Giang, Vietnam

Published 06/20/2019

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