Travels in Coconut Land

In the lower part of the Mekong River, on the other side of the East Sea, there is a tangled watery network. Here you’ll find Ben Tre, with abundant seafood, water for irrigation and alluvial deposits year-round. Nicknamed Coconut Land, Ben Tre is known for its green gardens and fresh, delicious coconuts.

Visitors only need two or three days to explore the province. During June, July and August, the area’s tropical fruits, such as mangosteens, durians, longans, and rambutans, are ripe and ready to eat. This is a best time to visit.

To get there, take a two-hour bus trip from Saigon. Or you can rent a motorbike and drive yourself. Many families in Saigon come for weekend picnics. If you arrive by bus, you can rent a motorbike and explore. Most motels have rental services and the price is very reasonable.

Ben Tre is famous for its gardens. One not to miss is the ecotourism site of Con Phung. To get there, take a boat and follow the gentle Tien Giang river. Here you will find the coconut museum, built entirely from coconut trees. It has galleries of coconut products, images, and objects that showcase the life, activities and people of Ben Tre. Visitors can go to coconut candy workshops – a specialty of the area – and witness the process of making coconut wine and rice paper. At the craft workshops, you can see unique items made from coconuts. Other activities include riding in boats, and walking across areca bridges.

Due to the peaceful geography and good land, many birds nest here. The Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary is home to a variety of white storks, herons, and other rare birds. The vegetation is rich. Farms grow guava, sesbania grandiflora, beans, custard apples, coconuts, and dates without any fertilizer.

At the Lang Be tourist area you can visit fishing villages and soak up the life of the local fishermen.

There are many dishes to try in the region. A grilled banana called “chuối đập” can be found near Truc Giang Lake. The bananas are flattened, grilled then eaten with coconut milk. There is also cake soup – a western Vietnam specialty made with rice flour and duck meat and eaten with ginger fish sauce. Ladies sell this from stands on the street. Cơm Tấm is also a specialty. It is different from the one made in Saigon. Broken rice is used so it is difficult to cook. The rice is served with thinly sliced pork, shredded chicken, fried quail eggs, and pickles.

Gifts to buy include coconut candy, coconut wine, and milky banh trang (bánh tráng sữa).

There are many memories to take away from this area due to its elegance and watery nature. Ben Tre is beautiful, similar to a sleeping girl who is waiting for someone to wake her up.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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