Welcome to one of the most beautiful sites in my hometown, the Thoi Son Island.
Thoi Son Island in Tien Giang Thoi Son Island, accessible by a 45-minute boat ride on the Mekong River from My Tho, is located in Tien Giang province.
Since 1990, Thoi Son has been a tourist resort welcoming hundreds of visitors. The tile-roofed houses surrounded by many generations of fruit-bearing trees, the cozy little restaurants in bonsai tree gardens make Thoi Son Island the ideal location for a short rest.
The paths through the island are bordered with fruit trees bearing plums, mangoes, and longans. Visitors will also enjoy Con Phung Island, Vinh Trang Pagoda, and the local coconut sweets and jams.
Tien Giang tourism company has recently invested in a hotel complex capable of accommodating up to 500 visitors.
Vacation dollars breathe new life into Thoi Son Island’s economy
VietNamNet Bridge – Like many villagers on Thoi Son Island, Bay Du and his family used to make their money growing longan. But when the price of the crop plummeted in the 1980s, he was left penniless. Over the next few years, Bay Du bounced between jobs as a carpenter, logger and hair cutter.
All of that changed, however, in the early 1990s when the provincial government decided to remake Thoi Son, located about 70km from HCM City in the southern province of Tien Giang, into a centre for tourism.
Vacation dollars have since breathed new life into the local economy and given people like Bay Du a chance at a second career.
A turning point in my life was when the province’s tourism authority proposed to help me build an eco-tourism site, the first of its kind on the island, he said.
Under the plan, the authorities helped construct an asphalt road, and setup toilets, tables and chairs, transforming the island’s longan gardens into an idyllic spot for tourists.
Visitors could relax, enjoy a drink and listen to local music.
I strive to provide a hospitable, warm atmosphere for guests, he said.
Bay Du’s daughter, Tu Hoang, also helps him by serving food.
Fruits are fresh and some of the southern region’s traditional cakes are served at reasonable prices, she said.
Business here has been booming; visitors to the oasis have jumped from 40-50 daily at the outset to 350-500 now.
Thoi Son’s transformation began in the early 1990s, when visitors, mainly from Eastern Europe, started arriving on the island. Farmers adapted and became tour guides, prompting the Tien Giang provincial tourism authority to invest in a pleasure boat to ply the Tien River.
Bay Du, who was an accomplished dan ca tai tu (a musician who plays a combination of ancient southern tunes, Binh Dinh classical opera and ceremonial songs from Hue) was invited to entertain the visitors. He earned a living regaling tourists, something that would have been unthinkable 10 years earlier.
That success prompted Bay Du to open his eco-tourism site, move that opened doors for all of Thoi Son’s residents. The island was chosen to be the main tourist site in Tien Giang. The province invested in a transport system, electricity and water works.
Now, along the 11km-road in the centre of Thoi Son, rows of stalls sell handicrafts and souvenirs and everything from entertainment venues to fishing tours have mushroomed.
Tu Dang, owner of a 1-hectare resort, said people who go into tourism had advantages that did not exist before.
We have opportunities to meet foreigners that help our farmers further understand many interesting matters, he said.
Deputy director of Tien Giang Province’s Trade and Tourism Department, Doan Van Phuong, said Thoi Son had become the most attractive tourist site in the region.
Tien Giang was expected to receive 600 visitors and earn VND60bil this year, compared to 518,000 visitors and VND50bil last year, he said.
The province now has three eco-tourism zones (Tan Thanh, Cai Be and Thoi Son Island) and Vinh Long, Ben Tre, Can Tho and Soc Trang provinces are following the model of Thoi Son.
(Source: Viet Nam News)