Ben Tre is a province in Mekong Delta, also known as Land of Coconut. Located at the end of Mekong river, it possesses a dense network of canals and immense coconut gardens. Additionally, Ben Tre also has many other fruits gardens scattered all around, mostly concentrated in Cho Lach (Chợ Lách) and Chau Thanh (Châu Thành) district.
The Land of Coconut is a good chance to get really local by engaging in local eco-tourism activities, staying at local houses and enjoying the life on water. You can either spend 1 to 2 days or combine Tien Giang for 3 days
Related article: Tien Giang Vietnam travel guide
How to get to Ben Tre
From Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh city), you can get Ben Tre by bus in less 2 hours. Here are some suggestions:
1. Thao Chau bus has many trips in every morning, from 5am to 9.30am. You can buy ticket at 16th ticket counter in Western bus station (bến xe Miền Tây – 35 Kinh Duong Vuong – Binh Tan district – HCM city). +848.3835.1917 or +848.3833.9954 or +84903.337.600
The bus will leave at 182 Su Van Hanh street – district 5.
2. Thinh Phat has many trips all day, from 5am to 6.30pm. Bus start at 25A Su Van Hanh street – district 5. Contact to book: +848.3830.3042 or +84913.965.050
There are many other buses to Ben Tre at Western bus station (bến xe Miền Tây – 35 Kinh Duong Vuong – Binh Tan district – HCM city).
Things to do in Ben Tre
1. Enjoying fruit market (on Hung Vuong street) at 5pm and cross wooden bridges over the river.
2. Visit Thanh Phong coconut candy workshop in Phu Khuong ward to see how they produce candy, and eat hot candies, mush tastier than packaged candies.
However, if want to grab some home, head to Tuyet Phung store (near TV station), where coconut candy is the best.
3. About 4 to 5am, let’s get up early and get to Truc Giang lake to watch Ben Tre people exercising. Then, down to Ben Tre market or Agricultural products market (Ward 8) to feel the beginning of a busy day. Then, head to Ben Tre 1 bridge to watch sunrise.
4. Drink at a sidewalk cafe opposite Ben Tre restaurant and enjoy a coconut on a hammock.
5. Visit Ben Tre museum to find out the history of Ben Tre. The museum has French architecture, ideal for photos.
Attractions in Ben Tre
During you stay in Ben Tre, you should visit ecotourism zones, which offer many activities in exploring the beauty of Mekong Delta waters, nature and people of the Coconut Land. 2 ecotourism zones where you should not skip:
1. Thoi Son islet (cồn Thới Sơn): You will get to enjoy many fruits while watching Don ca tai tu – a kind of traditional music in Mekong Delta and witness the process of producing coconut candy.
2. Phung islet (cồn Phụng), the home of Mr. Coconut Director (ông Đạo dừa – Nguyen Thanh Nam) who is said to have been eating only coconut to survive during his life . There’re many special things about the architectures here.
3. Quy islet (cồn Quy), in Chau Thanh district, has many kinds of fruits and seafoods.
4. Oc islet (cồn Ốc) is attractive ecotourism attraction of Giong Trom district. You can enjoy beautiful landscape of the waters and try traditional dishes of Ben Tre, find out about the rustic daily life of the locals.
4. Vam Ho birds garden, in Ba Tri district, is home of countless species of birds. If you’re lucky enough to visit the garden at right time when the birds fly to look for food, you will be blessed with a very beautiful scene exclusively in Mekong Delta.
5. Cai Mon Fruit garden in Cho Lach district and Tien Long, Tan Phu regions in Chau Thanh district are also about the immense fruits gardens. But don’t forget about the specialties of Ben Tre (chicken soup, oyster soup, snail pancake and so many on).
Not only beautiful lanscapes, Ben Tre also has many historical sites:
– House and tomb of Nguyen Dinh Chieu – a poet that made big influence to Southern Vietnam in the 19th century.
– Tomb of Phan Thanh Gian – The first doctor in Southern.
– Truong Vinh Ky memorial house – who was names “the only scientist of indochina” by Jean Bouchot historian (French).
– Female general Nguyen Thi Dinh temple in Luong Hoa ward – Giong Trom district, 20km (13miles) from Ben Tre city.
Hotels in Ben Tre
There are not many hotels in Ben Tre, some hotels that you may want to check out first are:
1. Cong Doan hotel (Union hotel) at 36 Hai Ba Trung street. Tel: +8475.3825.082
2. Ham Luong 3-star hotel at 220C Hung Vuong street, Ben Tre city. Tel: +8475.356.0560 or +8475.383.9009 or +8475.381.8595
3. Cuu Long hotel (Mekong hotel) at 64A – Highway 60, Phu Khuong – Ben Tre city. Tel: +8475.382.2548
4. Thu Thu motel at 110/1a – 30/4 street – Ben Tre city. Tel: +8475.381.7919
5. Que Huong motel on Hai Ba Trung street. Tel: +8475.3835.888
Specialties in Ben Tre
1. Pounded banana (chuối đập) is banana that is pounded to flatten out and eat with coconut milk. You can eat this dish at restaurant close to Truc Giang lake, the favorite place of Ben Tre youth. The restaurant opens from noon to afternoon, but is usually sold out early.
2. Bot xat Bread soup (bánh canh bột xắt) is a genuine specialty of Mekong Delta. This dish is made from rice flour, duck meat and eaten with fish sauce. It is a bit hard to find this dish, because it’s sold by hawkers and they rarely sell at a certain place. You have to ask the locals to know their itineraries.
3. Chè bưởi thầy Tôn (a kind of sweet snack from grapefruit) on Nguyen Hue street, open from late afternoon for only $0.5/cup.
4. Broken rice (cơm tấm) is a what may have fallen in love in HCM city, but broken rice of Ben Tre is very different because it’s cooked more elaborately. There’re many broken rice restaurants in the city and most are good.
5. Grilled corn (bắp nướng) is a lovely little snack found near Kien Vang bridge (cầu Kiến Vàng), from afternoon to 9pm.
6. Fruits is what you can not let yourself slip away without trying in any Mekong delta you visit. They are deep in the flavor, fresh and deliciously cheap.
7. Coconut mouse (Chuột dừa – mouse live inside coconut tree) is a popular dish in Ben Tre that could be baked, steamed, curried. You can enjoy this specialty at coconut farms.
8. Duong dua (đuông dừa – larvae of a beetle live in coconut tree). If you ever heard of eating living octopus in Japan then here is another challenge. Look at the photo below and you will know why.