My Tho, which is also called Tortoise island or Unicorn island, has been known as one of the green destinations. It is the quiet capital of Tien Giang province and the traditional gateway to the delta. My Tho is a popular day-trip destination for those who want to enjoy the taste of river life – a flotilla of boat tours the local islands and their cottage industries daily.
My Tho had the early foundation history and continuously developed until now. My Tho was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing Taiwan after the fall of the Southern Ming dynasty in 1683. The area, at the time, was once part of the Khmer kingdomand it was annexed to Vietnam in the 18th century. The city is named after the My Tho River. Due to its proximity to Saigon, My Tho was the traditional gateway to the Mekong Delta. In the 17th century, My Tho became one of the two biggest commercial centers of today’s Southern Vietnam. Now the Chinese have virtually all gone, having been driven out in the late 1970s when their property was seized by the government.
My Tho has long been the most popular point for travellers to the Mekong Delta on account of its proximity to Saigon. The economy is based on tourism, fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, longans and citrus fruit. The riverfront makes for a pleasant stroll. Visitors can easily explore the town on foot, catch the glimpse of the famous river and make the trip more interesting with real local life. Other activities which your tour may include (but was not in ours) are riding a horse-drawn cart through village paths to visit a bee-raising farm and taste honey tea and jam, and other opportunities to see local people cultivating fruit trees along with Traditional Vietnamese folk music.
The Mekong Delta is considered as the “rice basket of Vietnam”, contributing more than half of the nation’s rice production. My Tho is well known for floating markets, where people sell and purchase products on the river, as well as Ben Tam Ngua and My Thuan market. Vinh Trang Temple, Cao Dai Temple, Dong Tam Snake Farm. There are four islands in the Tien River between My Tho and Ben Tre: Dragon (Con Rong), Tortoise (Con Qui), Phoenix (Con Phung) and Unicorn (Con Lan) Islands.
Con Phung Island (Phoenix)
Con Phung Island is part of Ben Tre Province and is across the Mekong River from My Tho. This island is also known as the Island of the Coconut Monk named after a monk, Ong Dao Dua, who meditated on the island for three years during which time he ate nothing but coconuts. It is an island with lots of natural canals, Vietnamese cottage industries, snake farm, coconuts and water palms. In this island you may be able to go and peek inside the Vietnamese homes, tasted coconut candies and drink tea made from honey bees.
If you enjoy experiencing the risking moment to have enormous pythons wrap around you, this is an ideal place for you as snakes are bred at the Snake Farm for anti-venom and medicinal purposes. If snakes do not turn you on, then maybe the turtles will. The Snake Farm is home to two yellow turtles, the only two living of their species known to the human race. They live up to 1,000 years and as these two turtles are only 200 years old, they have another 800 years to look forward to. The Thai government offered $ 250,000 US for the turtles, but the Vietnamese authorities declined the 'generous' offer.
My Tho is famous for its noodle soup Hu Tieu My Tho, (more common in South Vietnam is Hu Tieu Nam Vang – literally Hu Tieu Phnom Penh Style). Hu Tieu My Tho is typically a clear pork broth with rice vermicelli and wheat flour noodles (mi) combined. Sliced pork, meaty pork bones, offal such as intestines, liver, and heart and fresh shrimp, and possibly deep fried wonton. The soup is then garnished by the diner to the individual taste with salad leaves, garlic chives, beans sprouts, lime, fresh chili, soy sauce, and vinegar. The noodles can be served dry with the soup on the side, or as a noodle soup. Also famous in My Tho is Bo Vien or beef balls. There are very busy stalls near the My Tho market that serve only Bo Vien in beef broth or with Hu Tieu noodle. It is served with very hot chili sauce.
Overall, a great experience to interact with the very warm and friendly locals!