History, Culture and Festivals

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History, Culture and Economy

Mui Ne means "sheltered peninsula," and indeed, is used as a seasonal harbor by local fisherman.This area was previous occupied by the Cham Kingdom, as testified to by the Cham Towers overlooking Phan Thiet. The towers were built in the 8th century to worship Shiva, and are said to be among the oldest in Vietnam. Beside these three towers, there was once a temple, but it has been buried in the ground for more than 300 years. There is now a modern pagoda beside them. Inside the main tower is an altar, on which a couple of Liga-Yoni sit. In Binh Thuan Province (where Mui Ne is situated) in 1306, King Tran Nhan Tong agreed to the marriage of princess Huyen Chan to King Jaya Sinhavarman III of the Cham Kingdom. The area is rich in local lore and superstition, with many stories of ghosts, fairies, local gods, monsters, magic and miracles, both ancient and recent.

In 1692, Nguyen Phuc Chu captured the area and named it Binh Thuan Dinh. The city of Phan Thiet is very new however, and the modern occupation of this area is only within the last century. Phan Thiet is the provincial capitol, and Mui Ne is more or less a suburb.

Lonely Planet Vietnam incorrectly states that during the French colonial period, Europeans lived in a segregated area North of the
Ca Ty River (Phan Thiet River), while Vietnamese, Cham, Southern Chinese, Malaysians and Indonesians lived on the southern side. While Cham and Chinese individuals do live in the city, there are not currently any ghettos or active minority communities within Phan Thiet. However, just outside the city there are several little-known ethnic minority villages.
Binh Thuan province has 27 ethnic groups living together, including Kin, Cham, K'ho, Rai, Chan Ro, Nung, Tay. Minority peoples total nearly 76,000 persons and account for over 7% of the province's population. The ethnic minority people mainly inhabit 15 separate communes and 20 mixed villages. Eleven of the fifteen are mountainous groups with 2,669 households and 14,044 persons, and the remaining four are Cham with 3,623 households and 20,714 persons.

The ethnic K'ho, Rai and Chan Ro today carry out intensive farming. The average family works 1.5 ha Crops also include cashew, rubber trees, coffee, mango, orange, lemon, banana and dragon fruit. Binh Thuan has 6,500 ha of wet rice fields, 1,000 ha of corn fields and 3,000 ha of orchards. The electronic age has come to Vietnam's minorities as well. Among the minority groups, 90% of the households having radios and televisions.

Ho Chi Minh spent a year in neighboring Phan Thiet City.
Duc Thanh School, cultural and historical relic, situated at Number 39, Trung Nhi Street, was built in 1907. In 1910, teacher Nguyen Tat Thanh (later President Ho Chi Minh) stayed and taught at Duc Thanh School for one year. Presently, the School has preserved many objects that relate to the life of life of Ho Chi Minh, such as a writing table, an ink-slab, and a wooden bed. The Ho Chi Minh Museum is next door.

Several military installations have existed throughout the province, including those at Thap Cham (the Prince's Castle) as well as a nearby hill, Whiskey Mountain, LZ Judy near Muong Man, and the largest; the LZ Betty, held first by the French, later the Americans during the recent war. The LZ Betty was located on the bluffs Southwest of Phan Thiet near present Ganh Son. There was an active air field at the base. LZ Betty was attacked during the Tet Offensive, and later a large battle was waged at the base on May 3.

The city of Phan Thiet is the provincial capital of Binh Thuan, with an estimated population of nearly 240,000 people. On November 28, 1933, Phan Thiet City was established as a French administrative center by the French governor of Indochina. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1998 and was officially upgraded from a town to a city in 1999. While these dates are noted in the historical annals, their importance should not be heavily weighted, since the city has been occupied for hundreds of years.
Phan Thiet is situated between mountains, rivers, sand dunes and the ocean. It has the lowest annual rainfall of just about anywhere in the country and a true desert region. Due to the low rainfall and cool ocean breezes, Mui Ne has some of the best weather in all of SE Asia. Mui Ne is just "over the ridge" from Phan Thiet, locked behind the sand dunes and pressed up against the sea.

The local economy depends upon Fishing (and most notably fish sauce or "nuoc mam"), agriculture (mostly green dragon fruit), and tourism. In what it does, it excels! Binh Thuan province is the world capitol of dragon fruit, produces the country's most prized fish sauce, and has 70% of the country's total resorts sitting on its beaches. According to local statistics, nearly 100 different varieties of fish are harvested here with an annual yield of more than 70,000 tons. Phan Thiet also produces about 16-17 million liters of fish sauce each year. Products are shipped not only around Vietnam, but throughout Asia, and may even find their way to your home country. Salt is also an important product (you can see may salt fields in Phan Thiet and South of Khe Ga). You'll find prices much cheaper than Siagon or Nha Trang here. People are also much more poor in this area.

On October 24, 1995, thousands rushed to Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, after scientists announced Binh Thuan would be the only place in Vietnam where people can perfectly observe a full solar eclipse. It is said that this is the day the tourist industry in Binh Thuan began. On the tenth anniversary of this event the "Binh Thuan Tourism Festival" was born.

Mui Ne and Phan Thiet are quickly developing. All the
resorts and restaurants in Mui Ne are less than 20 years old. Mui Ne Bay is quickly becoming a new land for windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts in South East Asia. With perfect weather, lots of sunshine and wind year-round, Mui Ne Bay is perhaps the best spot for kiting in the region. There are a number of new and exciting projects in development that will change not only this area permanently, but will also benefit the entire country and this region. Stay tuned to this website to learn about these projects.

Binh Thuan Province Festivals

Local officials estimate there are as many as 50 folk festivals celebrated within the Province. Each is associated with a tradition and belief of local ethnic communities. Many are associated with a specific ethnic group, and many are only celebrated locally.
Local festivals tend to be associated with a specific location (temple or pagoda), and many originated in the Cham culture. A number of the festivals are connected to whale worship, and many are tied to Budhism or find their roots in ancient Hindu (Cham) beliefs or local legend.

Foreign holidays are gaining popularity, including Valentine's Day, and the Januray 1st New Year. The Muslim Cham celebrate Ramadan (written Ramawan). Christmas is the second largest holiday celebrated in Phan Thiet (after Tet), with lots of lights, decorations, nativities and elaborate pagents. The week of Christmas leading up to the week of Tet (more than a month) is a fun time in Phan Thiet, with cafes and restaurants open late, lots of holidays treats, and people out late with friends. Birthdays are typically celebrated in cafes with friends. It is Vietnamese tradition for the one celebrating the birthday to pay all expenses and arrange the party themselves.

Tet (Lunar New Year Celebration)

Lion Dancers at Tet in Phan Thiet
In Western Countries like the USA, the "holiday season" is over after January 1. Not so in Vietnam. Here the holiday season is extended for another month or more as families prepare for Tet, the lunar new year. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, Tet is not a single-day affair. Traditionally an entire month-long festival is celebrated from the 15th day of the twelfth month to the 15th day of the first month, but the first 3 days of the new year are the most important. The first day of the new year falls on January 29 this year. Click Here to read more.
The Mid-Autumn Festival
Children Carrying Dragon Fruit Lanterns for the Mid Autumn Festival (Trung Thu)

15 day of the 8th month (lunar calendar)
2010: September 22
The Mid Autumn Festival (Trung Thu) is also known as the Moon Festival, and is a popular Chinese celebration dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty. The Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The traditional food of this festival is the moon cake, of which there are many different varieties. Cakes usually have at least one dried, salted egg yolk and come with fillings of coconut, yellow or green bean, lotus seed or minced pork. All are sweet.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Brightly lit lanterns are often carried around by children.
The Vietnamese version of this holiday is said to have originated in the 8th century, during the reign of Emperor Minh-Hoang. Legend says that the Emperor took his Empress, Duong Quy Pho, to a lake where he read a poem that he had composed to her by the light of the moon.
A more popular version of the holiday recounts the legend of Thang Cuoi, whose banyan tree was uprooted after his wife accidentally urinated on it and took him with it to the moon. Every year, on the mid-autumn festival, children light lanterns to show Cuoi the way to get back to Earth.
Binh Thuan Province was nationally recognized and awarded for its extravagant celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival at the
2006 Vietnam Guide Awards.

Nghinh Ong Celebration
16 / 8 to 18 / 8 Lunar month (August, September or October)
2010: August 30, 31, September 1 (last day is the parade)
“Nghinh Ong” is devoted to whale worship and is celebrated at the Ong pagoda by thousands of Chinese and Vietnamese participants in Phan Thiet. People gather to pray for happiness, health and good fortune for family and friends. Ong Pagoda was built to worship Quan Kong and was built in November 1770 (Year of the Tiger), in Duc Nghia Precinct, Phan Thiet City. It has a beautiful, Chinese architecture. A statue of Quan Kong and an old bell cast in Guang Tung (China) are preserved here. On festival days, the pagoda is decorated with flower garlands. Colorful lanterns are hung during the night. There are some cultural activities such as "hat boi" (classical dramas performances) and "hat ba trao" (singing traditional local folk songs). The festival continues with elaborate parades, costumes and an enormous dragon dance.

Mbang Kate Festival
Cham Elders at the Kate Festival

Date: 8th and 9th lunar month
2010: October 7 (most important day)
This festival holiday is an adaptation of the last day of Muslim Ramadan (called Ramawan by the Cham) The festival begins in the towers and mausoleums, and then moves to homes. Locally, it typically begins at the
Cham Towers overlooking Phan Thiet. This Cham festival is an occasion to celebrate heroes and spirits (Po Nagar), kings of merit (Kings Po Klong Garai and Po Ro Me), and their people. On this holiday, the Raglai people travel to the Highlands and celebrate together with the Cham people. During the Festival, there are offerings made to the genii, and hats and costumes are placed on statues. At the end of the ceremony, people recite poems, play music, and participate in other games and forms of entertainment.
Dinh Thay Festival - Festival at the Magician's Temple
Dinh Thay Thim, La Gi

Date: 15th and 16th days of the 10th lunar month 2008: 12-14 October
Every year on the 15th and 16th days of 9th month of the Vietnamese lunar year, at the Magician's Temple (Thay Thim) in La Gi, Ham Tan, there is a big Festival on the death anniversary of a Magician and his Wife. The Legend says that in the 19th century, a married couple from Quang Nam Province came here and cured the diseases of the local inhabitants with magic. After their death, the local people built a temple to worship them. During the Festival, many local people go to the temple to praying, receive tattoos, consult oracles, have their horoscopes told, and attend banquets. The festival is held in Tan Hai Commune, La Gi County.

Cau Ngu and the Ba Trao Opera
Performances at the Van Thuy Tu Temple
The Cau Ngu Festival is a fisherman's festival for whale worship, and alternates years with the Nghinh Ong Festival. It includes a parade, dragon boat races, traditional games, and a variety of performances of Ba Trao Opera, the most notable performance being around the clock at the Van Thuy Tu Whale Temple.
The Dua Linh or Ba Trao Opera is originally a Cham art form associated with whale worship. The ritual begins on the riverbank with boatmen singing while rowing; praying to the Whale for peace, favorable winds, asafe voyage, and a good catch for the season.

Peace Prayer Ceremony

Once yearly, at sunset during the Kate Festival, the Cham People celebrate the Peace Prayer ceremony; saying goodbye to the bad luck of the previous year, and pray for good things to come in the new year. After the ceremony there are a variety of games and traditions. Ceremonies such as Prayer for Rain, Rija Nuga, Damp Building Festival, and the Abstinence Ceremony are also held yearly by the Cham.
Other Local Holidays
April 19 Binh Thuan Provincial Liberation (1975)
Other National Holidays
March 8 International Women's Day
May 1 Labour Day (May Day)
September 2 National Day (Ho Chi Minh's speech in 1945)
November 20 Teacher's Day
Other Religious Holidays
15/4 (lunar) Buddha's Birthday
5/5 (lunar) Midyear Festival
15/7 (lunar) Full moon of the 7th month (Mother's Day)
23/12 (lunar) Kitchen Guardians
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Getting Around Mui Ne
Mui Ne History
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Sài Gòn - Mũi Né  1.300.000
Sài Gòn - Đà Lạt 2.500.000
Sài Gòn - Vũng Tàu 850.000
Sài Gòn - Nha Trang 2.700.000
Sài Gòn - Phú Yên 4.700.000
Sài Gòn - Hà Nội 15.000.000
Phan Thiết - Bảo Lộc 1.300.000
Phan Thiết - Phan Rang  1.300.000
Phan Thiết - Nha Trang 1.300.000
Phan Thiết - Đà Lạt 1.400.000
Phan Thiết - Vũng Tàu  1.400.000
Phan Thiết - Bình Dương 1.400.000

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