|Thuan Hung rice paper village is located 40km from the center of Can Tho.
Located 40km from the center of Can Tho, Thuan Hung rice paper village is a favorite destination of tourists. Visitors are immediately impressed by the aroma of rice flour and coconut mixed with the smell of smoke and the sight of rice paper drying in the sun on rattan racks lining both sides of the road.
No one knows when exactly the rice paper making began, but families in the area say they have been engaged in the work for 200 years, a craft passed down from generation to generation. Initially just a few households involved. As the paper became more popular, other households get involved.
Thuan Hung rice paper is made according to a "secret" technique of each household. No two have the same recipe. Each step of making rice paper wrappers requires long experience and precision.
Tran Thanh Tam, the owner of the Thi Tho rice paper business of three generations, said that since he has been engaged in the craft, all the families in the village have used a closed production process, from buying raw materials to turning out finished products.
“Rice is the main ingredient. The rice is soaked and then ground. Then coconuts are ground to make coconut milk to mix with the rice flour. There are three or four more stages before the batter is spread thinly onto a griddle on a steaming pot,” said Tam.
The village has 75 professional rice paper households and 41 others doing seasonal work, mainly during Tet, the traditional Lunar New Year. They mostly use manual ovens that burn rice husks, but a few of the households have purchased machinery and automated production to reduce labor and increase productivity and profits.
|Rattan racks of rice paper drying in the sun lining both sides of the road is the highlight of the village.
To promote the Thuan Hung rice paper brand, some households regularly participate in food festivals.
Ha Thi Sau, who has been in the business for 30 years, says she introduced her home-made products at the recent Southern Folk Cake Festival 2023 in Can Tho.
She recalled, “Since 2015, I’ve participated in the cake festival, making and selling rice paper wrappers. We’re happy to know that, thanks to participating in such festivals, our traditional craft has become more widely known.”
Efforts to preserve and develop the traditional craft of many generations have changed Thuan Hung rice paper village. Revenues are steadily increasing. Last year the villagers earned nearly 3 million USD from rice paper, which has also been exported to Cambodia and bought by foreigners as gifts for relatives.
Dao Thi Thanh Thuy, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, says Thuan Hung becoming the first craft village in Can Tho recognized as an intangible cultural heritage has validated its historical importance.
In recent years, it has become a typical tourism product of the locality, contributing to the development of the local tourism economy, says Thuy.
She added, “The Department will work with functional agencies to continue implementing programs to preserve and promote traditional craft villages, widely introduce them to boost their socio-economic benefits.”