Dinh Cau and the night market

Dinh Cau, also called Cau Temple on Phu Quoc Island is the most prominent landmark in all of Phu Quoc, Vietnam. It is an incredibly old temple in a new coat. Nowadays the location of worship is dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea.
The origin of Thien Hau, also called Mazu, is China.
According to the legend, the real name of Thien Hau was Lin Moniang, born during the rule of the Song Dynasty on Meizhou Island in China’s Fujian province. (here is the prime temple of Mazu)

Dinh Cau Temple, Phu Quoc Island
Dinh Cau Temple, Phu Quoc Island

This goddess is worshipped along the entire coastline of East Asia to various degrees. The story tells that Lin Moniang was a girl who went out on the shore during storms and in raging tempests, wearing a bright red dress and guiding ships to safety. Upon her death in the year 987, the seafaring people remembered a young goddess in red, guiding ships through storms to a safe shelter.

Duong Dong Town
Duong Dong Town

Dinh Cau is not only the most visited and most photographed tourist attraction on Phu Quoc Island, the temple is also in use. Fishermen and their wives offer incense sticks to the goddess of the sea and pray for a safe return from the ocean.

The temple is conveniently located at the mouth of the harbour of the fishing town Duong Dong.

Dinh Cau
Dinh Cau

If you plan a visit to the temple, do it in the evening. Not only you may witness one of Phu Quoc Island’s famous sunsets at the most picturesque spot of the western shore, you can also combine the event with a visit to Dinh Cau Night Market, where you should try the most exotic kinds of seafood you can get on the island.

Dinh Cau
Dinh Cau

Every 15th and 16th of lunar October, there is a festival with many people attending.

Vo Thi Sau Street, Duong Dong Town, Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Dinh Cau Night Market

After visiting Dinh Cau for one of its spectacular sunsets, you should drop by Dinh Cau Night Market, the best place on Phu Quoc Island to sample the many different kinds of seafood, fishermen haul in from the ocean on a daily basis.

Today, 7th of January 2016 I have read this in the news and I am shocked about the inconsiderate behaviour of certain entities: Dinh Cau Night Market to be shut down and destroyed. Pah!
(probably not happening anyway, but in case they relocate you better ask your receptionist)

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong

The night market in Duong Dong town offers not just the usual souvenirs and keepsakes you might expect at a famous landmark like this.
The main product of this Vietnamese attraction are the seafood dishes. We tried these grilled sea urchins, topped off with a drizzle of fish sauce, peanuts and green onions.
Actually the sea urchins don’t taste good and the small amount of bitter meat is probably not worth the 20,000đ you pay for each. But it is an adventure and, unless you are from one of these southern fishing towns yourself, you probably never tried them before.

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong

The road is lined with fish tanks containing oysters, clams, sharks, mantis shrimps, lobsters and other deep sea monsters that should have been left deep down in R’lyeh, where they pick the growing barnacles from Cthulhu’s sleeping body. The sharks make a quite depressed impression though. I mean how would you feel in a cage your size, waiting to be eaten? Sharks need to move in order to breath, so they are probably passive due to a lack of oxygen.

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong

Most of the creatures I have seen before, in films made by Jacques Cousteau, but of course not in the flesh. Some of that marine life though… Have they been around forever, or did they develop recently as a result of nuclear radiation? Well, I am not a marine biologist, just a culinary adventurer, so we dig in.

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong

Grilled, boiled, steamed and stir-fried, Dinh Cau Night Market on Phu Quoc Island features great seafood cuisine at a reasonable price. Of course, without a dessert the meal is not complete. You can decide between sugar-roasted peanuts, a selection of fresh fruits, pancakes and traditional Vietnamese sweet soups.

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong

I also bought a package of spicy, roasted seaweed for my queen. She loves seaweed and spicy food as well, so that’s the perfect culinary souvenir. If you want to wash down the fish you ate, try either Saigonese beer or a cup of the wonderfully refreshing sugarcane juice they offer at various stalls.

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong

Compared with other night markets, the amount of souvenirs is rather disappointing though. Some of the shells may be from Phu Quoc Island, but most of the cheaper pearls are of Chinese origin. The lacquerware is from the mainlands of Vietnam as well and the t-shirts at the night market are rather uncreative. Some of the souvenirs are real corals. Please be responsible and don’t buy them. The reefs are a vital part of the marine ecosystem around Phu Quoc Island and they have a hard standing against the pollution anyway. No need to manually destroy them on top of that.

But that Dinh Cau Night Market offers the best seafood, we easily agreed on that.

Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong
Dinh Cau night market in Duong Dong