Experience the island life of the Mekong Delta

On my trip to Kien Giang Province, in the far south of Vietnam, I traveled to Kien Luong coastal district to see what is reputedly the most beautiful island in the Mekong Delta. To get to Hon Nghe Islet I took National Road 80 to Nga Ba Hon wharf and caught a boat.

The beautiful Hon Nghe Islet off Kien Giang Province. (Photo: SGT)
The cruise departed early in the afternoon and we seemed to get lost in a wonderland, a small Ha Long Bay in the south. The cruise glided past many islands. The famous mountainous Phu Tu Islet was to the north surrounded by many smaller islands. The little islands have weird shapes - a stone castle, a whale and there’s the coconut tree covered Ba Lua Island.

After two hours we arrived at Hon Nghe Islet and went ashore in a small wooden boat. The first thing I saw, halfway up Lau Chuong Mountain, was a 20-meter-high statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha. The limestone mountain has many stalactite caves.

We decided to go to the old Lien Ton Co Tu Pagoda. We had to conquer hundreds of stone steps to get the sanctuary. On the way, we passed the statue of Sakyaminu Buddha and Chuong (Bell) giant rock which will made a  “boong... boong” sound like a bell when I struck it with a small rock.

Further up are beautifully carved Arahat statues.

The pagoda is about 20 meters inside a stone cave. On the mountain walls are many statues of lion, tiger and dragons.

Night time in the pagoda is really peaceful and still. It was a full moon, so the ocean that looked amazing. The pagoda was blanketed in mist. Sometimes, the monks struck the wooden bell while they prayed. The gongs of the bell resonated with the other sounds in the forest.

Early in the morning, I got up to enjoy the dawn. It was a contrast to the stillness of the night; the islet was very busy with fishing boats, fishermen and traders.

Hon Nghe Islet is 320 meters high and 380 hectares. Tourists can take a boat trip to a fish farm to buy fish and discover the lives of local fishermen. The islet is also home to many species of birds.

Phat Co Don Cave can be accessed by a winding path. Inside, it is like a living room and there is a Buddha statue. Some other caves are also worth a visit.