A unique sacred site, the Van Thuy Tu Temple in Phan Thiet, Vietnam offers a captivating look into how whales are connected with local culture as well as the lives of fisherfolk.
Planning Your Visit
This temple can be found along Ngu Ong Street in Phan Thiet town and is open from 07:00am to 5:00pm. A relatively short drive from Phan Thiet Beach and properties like Anantara Mui Ne Resort, this site does charge an entrance fee though it includes a guided tour.
The Temple’s History
Dating back to 1762, the Van Thuy Tu Temple was constructed to honour “Ca Ong”, a whale deity; in fact, the worship of whales goes back to the early Cham period. Those visiting from a nearby Mui Ne resort can learn more about local traditions and how fishermen believe they are protected from dangers at sea by whales.
As you would expect, many of the exhibits are centred on whales including skeletal remains that are more than a century old; said to be the largest in Southeast Asia, the highlight is a skeleton of a whale measuring 22 metres! You will also find fishing boats and Nguyen Dynasty artefacts like an antique bronze bell and terracotta statues.
The Van Thuy Tu Temple also hosts annual festivals and events that offer more insights into religious traditions, Cham rituals and festivities from boat racing to folk singing. Amongst the main events, one can witness here are the Whale Worshipping Festival, Peace Prayer Ceremony and Spring Festival.