Exploring authentic experience of the southwest region in An Binh Islet

Tuesday, 2019-12-24 12:41:05
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Visitors taking a boat trip to explore An Binh Islet
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NDO – Thanks to its interlacing system of rivers and canals as well as alluvial richness, An Binh Islet in Long Ho District, Vinh Long Province, is rewarded with favourable and cool climate and fruit-laden orchids all-year-round.

Given the wealth of the natural conditions, Vinh Long provincial authorities have made proper investment to develop the islet into an attractive touristy destination which can provide visitors with authentic and indigenous experience of the southwest region.

Tapping natural advantages

An Binh Islet is comprised of four communes, namely An Binh, Hoa Ninh, Dong Phu and Binh Hoa Phuoc in Long Ho District. With a total area of more than 60 s.q.m, the islet is blanketed by Co Chien and Tien rivers, which have brought about alluvial soils for the local fruit gardens.

In recent years, local people who used to work on their gardens and rivers have updated with the new trend of doing business by developing tourist activities. Instead of selling fruits to traders, the locals have renovated their gardens to serve visitors.

In addition to stop by fruit-laden gardens and taste fresh fruits, visitors to An Binh can also explore local craft villages along rivers and soak up the life of local farmers through various activities such as fishing, gardening, making traditional cakes, and listening to ‘Boi’ (classical theatre) folklore music. These exciting experiences have helped to establish An Binh Islet as an magnetic destination of Vinh Long Province and the Mekong river delta region in general.

Tourism has brought about positive changes for An Binh in both its economic situation and appearance. Tran Mai Trang, owner of Ut Hien’s Garden, said that by paying the entrance fee of only VND50,000 each, the guests can freely taste every fruit grown in the garden. Since her family’s garden was renovated to serve visitors 20 years ago, it has welcomed many tourists every day, generating a net profit of roughly VND20 million per month.

To meet the increasing demand of travellers, since 2000, many ecotourism sites and homestay facilities have been set up on An Binh Islet. Prominent among them is Vinh Sang Farm and Tourism Site, which offers many interesting activities such as balancing in a bamboo bridge (also called “monkey” bridge), grass sliding, and ostrich riding.

Attraction of Mekong delta’s cultural identity

According to the province’s tourism sector, Vinh Long has welcomed around 1.15 million visitors in the first nine months of 2019, accounting for 82% of its yearly target and up 11% compared to the same period last year.

In the same reviewed period, the tourism revenue reached roughly VND384 billion, an increase of 31.1% year-on-year. The impressive growth is significantly contributed by tourism activities in An Binh Islet.

As An Binh was risen into a tourist attraction, local people have been active in developing new tourist products and services as well as learning foreign languages to communicate with international guests.

Since 2006, a Boi singing programme has been held at the An Thanh communal house in An Binh Commune to entertain visitors to An Binh while helping them to get a glimpse on the local culture. The programme is developed by the Vinh Long Provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, People’s Artist Vu Linh Tam, and Dong Thinh ‘Boi’ Singing Art Troupe.

Recalling those days when he first dealt with tourist activities, Ly Hoang Canh, a former staff at the Cuu Long Tourist Company said that his company realised the potential and advantage of An Binh Islet dozens of years ago. The company has designed a tour entitled “Travel in the green of the Mekong delta”.

Initially, the tour just invited travellers to join an excursion to gardens at An Binh Islet and visit Cai Be floating market in Tien Giang Province. Then the company suggested families on the islet provide sleeping accommodation for visitors so that they can have a deeper look into the local life and culture.

What impresses visitors to An Binh the most is that the daily life of people on the islet is imbued with distinct characteristics of the southwest region. Their hospitality and enthusiasm of locales, the delicious savour of indigenous dishes such as fried fishes and ‘banh xeo’ (Vietnamese pancakes), and the beautiful melodies of Boi and Don ca Tai Tu folk singing genres are among the many inviting factors luring more and more visitors to An Binh.