Huynh Thuy Le Old House (also called Huynh Phu Ancient House) is one of the largest and most intact old houses in the Mekong Delta. On the one hand, it reflects the age-old house culture of Western region’s residents. On the other hand, it is a unique architecture of East-West combination.
Beside its cosmopolitan look, this tourist attraction is also well-known for a borderless love story between its previous owner Mr. Huynh Thuy Le and a French girl. Perhaps that’s the reason why flocks of romance-seekers manage to come to this house each year.
I. History of Huynh Thuy Le Old House
Huynh Thuy Le Old House was first owned by Mr. Huynh Cam Thuan a wealthy merchant from Fujian Province, China. In 1895, he decided to get this house constructed in a bustling market town near the Sa Dec River.
At that time, Huynh Thuy Le Old House was considered one of the most appealing houses in the whole Western region. Moreover, it is located at an ideal position, not only in the proximity of the market, but also close to the river.
Initially, this ancient house has a layout of three compartments mainly made from wood. However, until 1917, it has undergone extensive restoration. After that, the smallest son of the Huynh family Mr. Huynh Thuy Le inherited the house and became infatuated with his foreign lover.
By 2008, Huynh Thuy Le Old House was recognized as a relic of Dong Thap at the provincial level. In 2009, it became a historical relic at the national level. Today the house retains much of its original architecture, but only the main hall is kept for the purpose of sightseeing.
II. Architecture and Structure of Huynh Thuy Le Old House
Huynh Thuy Le Old House was originally a 2000-square-meter house, consisting of the main hall, a kitchen, a garden and a garage. Sad as it is, only the 258-square-meter main hall has been maintained because of the urbanization.
This house has a bizarre style of architecture, with its features influenced by three cultural streams of Vietnam, France and China.
The Vietnamese characteristics of Huynh Thuy Le Old House are firstly imprinted on its layout of 3 separate compartments. This chamber layout is undoubtedly typical of local houses in the South-western region. The yin-yang tile roof, including two curved gables in boat-like shape is another emblematic feature of Vietnamese architecture.
In contrast with its traditional layout, the exterior of the house is bedecked in Western style, conspicuously displayed in Romanesque domes. The house’s door and windows are also made arched with embossed reliefs, similar to Renaissance designs. Especially, all the flower and leaf-patterned bricks used to pave the walls are imported from France.
As soon as visitors enter the house, they are likely to be amazed at its Chinese decorations. The gazebos, in particular, are illuminated like those in Chinese pagodas. The balcony frame is carved with a male-female phoenix pair, which indicates “a harmonious couple” or “eternal happiness”.
Besides, the Chinese impact is reflected in a depression in the middle of the house. It is based on a Chinese concept: “Money often flows towards lower areas”. In the midst of the main hall, there is also an altar honouring Guan Gong a famous Chinese general, which aims at wishing the family much power and prosperity.
III. What to See and Do in Huynh Thuy Le Old House?
1. Contemplate Historical Artifacts
While visiting this ancient house, travellers can witness and touch items used to adorn the interior such as bookshelves, clocks, phonographs, tea pots or TV. The bedroom with an a-hundred-year bed is also available to see. They provoke a sense of nostalgia in our hearts, make us feel as if we were living in the past.
2. Listen to the Moving Love Story of Its Owner
In all likelihood, what turns Huynh Thuy Le Old House into a noteworthy tourist attraction is the tear-jerking love story between Mr. Huynh Thuy Le the house’s previous owner and Mrs. Marguerite Duras a beautiful French female writer.
During the visit to this house, we will definitely be told about this story. A romantic relationship lasted for 18 months in secret and ended in tears, which has been covered with the dust of time. Their love affair even appeared in a novel called “Lover” written by Mrs. Duras. The charm that lies in this novel became greater when adapted into a movie in 1992.
3. Experience an Overnight Trip
Source: Y E N E S K H A C
In order to fully immerse yourself in the “vintage” atmosphere of this house, you can stay for a night here. There are two rooms for 4 people at a price of 550.000 1.000.000 VND/night. Breakfast and lunch are also included.
IV. How to Get to Huynh Thuy Le Old House?
If you depart for Huynh Thuy Le Old House from Ho Chi Minh City, you can go in the direction of National Route 1A. It is about over 140 km from Ho Chi Minh City to Sa Dec City, so you can choose to go either by car or motorbike, even by bus.
- Going by car: To save time, you should take Ho Chi Minh City Trung Luong Highway. After going to the end of the highway, continue to go straight in the direction of National Route 1A. When crossing Bac My Thuan Bridge, follow the direction of National Route 80. Go about 5 km further and you will reach the entrance to Huynh Thuy Le Old House.
- Going by motorbike: Travelling this way takes 5 km longer than going by car. However, exploring the Western region by motorbike is an enjoyable experience.
- Going by bus: To get to the center of Dong Thap, you can seek some bus lines at Mien Tay bus station. It may cost you a small sum (90.000 160.000 VND).
V. Extra Tips
- A lunch or dinner during the visit to Huynh Thuy Le Old House is offered to visitors. It will cost you about 100.000 VND/person.
- You had better not go there on holidays because in those occasions, the house is rather crowded.
- You need to keep an appropriate attitude. It’s preferable to dress neatly and keep quiet during the visit time.
Sometimes a place is worth a thousand words. There are so many things to talk about, not just because of its material and historical values, but due to its spiritual value as well. Like a sigh of the time, Huynh Thuy Le Old House reminds us of sobbing but gentle memories.
Do you want to have a corner for remembrance? Pay a visit to Huynh Thuy Le Old House to be deep in thought!
Keyword: Huynh Thuy Le Old House, Dong Thap: Where Time Recalls a Romancer