Things to Do in Ben Tre: A Travel Guide with Unforgettable Experiences
What to Know about Ben Tre
Ben Tre the land of coconuts
Ben Tre is located in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam and renowned as the "Land of Coconuts”, agricultural production, and rich history.
Is Ben Tre Worth Visiting?
Ben Tre is a unique area with its own beauty, so this place is completely worthy for you or any tourist to experience! It is great for those looking for a peaceful, quiet space, and an immersive cultural experience with the taste of rural Vietnamese life.
Who Should Travel to Ben Tre?
Nature Enthusiasts and Ecotourists: Nature lovers and eco-conscious travelers will be captivated by Ben Tre, such as lush greenery, sprawling coconut groves, serene river views, and more.
History and Cultural Explorers: History lovers and culture enthusiasts will also find Ben Tre fascinating, especially its role in the Vietnam War as well as the traditional Vietnamese rural life.
Adventure Seekers: While not the typical adventure destination, this place still offers unique experiences like navigating the Mekong Delta by boat, wandering through local orchards, and immersing in the authentic rhythm of rural life.
Food Lovers: The local cuisine in Ben Tre offers a chance to explore authentic and traditional Vietnamese dishes. Vietnamese cuisine enthusiasts would enjoy fresh, locally sourced produce, particularly coconuts, seafood, and an array of tropical fruits.
Photographers and Artists: Ben Tre's picturesque splendor, with meandering waterways and the lively hues of local life and verdant landscapes, provides abundant opportunities for photography and artistic inspiration.
Travelers Seeking Tranquility: Those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life or find a peaceful retreat would love the serene and laid-back atmosphere of Ben Tre.
Which Season Should We Travel to Ben Tre?
Ben Tre mainly experiences two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. However, I divided it into three distinct periods based on weather patterns so that you can know when to travel to Ben Tre.
Dry Season (December to April)
Weather: characterized by lower humidity and minimal rainfall, making it more comfortable for travel and exploration. The temperature is generally warm, with average highs ranging from 30°C to 33°C (86°F to 91°F).
Activities: ideal for outdoor activities and visiting local orchards and coconut groves.
Rainy Season (May to November)
Weather: Higher levels of rainfall with frequent heavy downpours, typically in the afternoon or evening. The temperature remains warm, but increased humidity can make it feel hotter.
Landscape: The countryside becomes lush, and water levels in rivers and canals rise.
Floating Season (Overlaps With the Late Rainy Season)
Ben Tre is in the floating season
The Floating Season is a distinctive feature of the Mekong Delta, occurring when the water levels in the Mekong River rise due to upstream rains, leading to flooding of the delta plains.
Landscape: During this season, the landscape transforms, with flooded fields and increased aquatic life. It's a crucial season for local agriculture.
Activities: Offers unique opportunities for tourists to experience the local lifestyle adapted to the watery landscape, including boat tours and admiring the floating markets.
Best Things To Do In Ben Tre
There is a treasure trove of activities and experiences you should do in this picturesque land. Here's a rundown of the best things to do based on the itinerary of most tourists.
Discover The Coconut Villages
As soon as you enter one of the coconut villages here, you will be struck by the abundance of coconut trees. They are everywhere and create a poetic picture.
Don't miss the chance to visit a factory to see how the locals make coconut candy, a specialty of Ben Tre. The process is a bit intricate, I think, including boiling the coconut milk with sugar and molding the mixture into candies. The best part is, of course, getting to taste the delicious candy fresh off the production line, which has a rich, creamy flavor.
And coconuts are not just used for food but are an integral part of the economy here. Besides, you can also try to make some traditional crafts using coconut materials yourself, such as bowls, cups, spoons, mats, ropes, and brooms.
You will be taught how to make simple items like bowls and spoons from coconut shells. The local villagers were incredibly friendly and eager to share their knowledge.
Boat Trips on the Mekong Delta
A boat trip on the Mekong Delta
Taking a traditional wooden boat trip on the Mekong Delta is an unforgettable part of the Ben Tre tour. As the boat eases into the gentle currents of the Mekong Delta, the bustling noise of the town quickly gives way to the tranquil sounds of the water and nature.
The Mekong Delta is a network of tributaries, and cruising through these waters was like navigating through a living tapestry of greenery. The floating market is among the unique features of the Mekong Delta as well. Even if you don't visit during peak market hours, you will still see boats with goods, each with a pole displaying the items they were selling.
On a few occasions, the boat stops at local homes and workshops, where you have a chance to chat with the incredibly welcoming locals. Having a traditional Vietnamese lunch on the boat is also a unique experience.
The Mekong Delta is rich in biodiversity as well. You will spot various bird species. The peaceful sound of birds chirping and the occasional sight of a fish jumping out of the water will make the trip more enjoyable.
Ben Tre Cycling Tour
Explore Ben Tre by bicycle
Besides boating, cycling through Ben Tre will also be an absolute highlight of your time. You can rent a bicycle from a local shop, or if you're luckier, your hotel and hostel will give you one for free.
The cycling trip should begin early in the morning, which is perfect for avoiding the midday heat. The terrain here is quite flat, making the ride pleasant and suitable for cyclists of all levels.
Trust me! You will see that the beauty of the countryside is breathtaking, with verdant rice paddies, fruit orchards, and small villages.
Cycling means exploring the area at your own pace. Along the way, you can stop at small roadside stalls for refreshments and try some local snacks and the delicious, fresh coconut water, which is incredibly refreshing.
At these stops, you can immerse yourself in the authentic local ambiance and snap photographs that will encapsulate your memorable experiences.
Enjoy Fruits at Cai Mon Fruit Orchard
Ben Tre isn’t just about the coconuts because it also has several orchards where you can indulge in various other fruits. Among these, the Cai Mon orchard is a standout, and it should be on every traveler's list.
Here, you can enjoy a variety of fruits to your heart's content. Just sit under the shade of the trees and savor the delicious taste, and you will have a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Besides, orchards are also a paradise for photographers, with vibrant colors and natural beauty everywhere.
Uncover History at Dong Khoi Guerrilla Village
Dong Khoi guerrilla village is about 15 km from the center of Ben Tre. This was the place of the first uprising of the Dong Khoi movement in 1960 and then a stronghold for the Viet Cong guerrillas. This village now serves as a living museum where both locals and foreigners are educated about the Vietnam War.
Dong Khoi Guerrilla Village played a pivotal role in the anti-colonial struggle against the French and resistance against American forces. Like the famous Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Khoi Village had its own network of tunnels and hideouts for meetings, storing supplies, and as shelters.
Best Things To See In Ben Tre
Here are a few things you should see when visiting the coconut land of Vietnam.
Watch Don Ca Tai Tu
Don Ca Tai Tu is a traditional form of music recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, showing the unique musical heritage of Southern Vietnam. Don Ca Tai Tu isn't just entertainment. It is also a journey into the heart and soul of Vietnam's musical tradition.
The musicians use traditional Vietnamese instruments, including the zither, the two-stringed fiddle, and the monochord. The music is a blend of instrumental and vocal performances, typically telling themes of love, nostalgia, and the beauty of the Mekong Delta’s landscape. The way the singers expressed these emotions through their music was truly captivating.
Watch Bird at Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary
This sanctuary is home to thousands of birds, including storks, herons, and other migratory species. It is set in a mangrove forest, creating a perfect bird habitat.
As you enter, the air is filled with the melodious symphony of chirping and singing birds, instantly enveloping you in a tone of peace and natural harmony.
The main activity is bird watching, so you should bring binoculars, which are essential for a closer look at the birds perched on the tree branches or flying overhead.
The best bird-watching time is in the late afternoon when the birds return after a day of foraging. You can also speak with local conservationists at the sanctuary to listen to their efforts and the challenges of maintaining this bird habitat.
Arrive at Ben Tre Museum
You'll find the museum to be a treasure trove of history. It showcases an extensive array of artifacts and exhibits that vividly bring to life the story of Ben Tre province, especially its crucial role in the Vietnam War. Those include everything from traditional agricultural tools to the personal belongings of Viet Cong soldiers.
One of the most striking sections is dedicated to the Coconut Religion, which is unique to Ben Tre. You can uncover remarkable insights into this singular religious movement by understanding its practices and cultural impact. The artifacts related to this religion are intriguing, and they're unlike anything you've seen before.
What To Eat In Ben Tre
Known as the “land of coconut,” Ben Tre has a lot of delicious dishes with ingredients inspired by coconut. These dishes are a delight, no doubt, and the region also offers a plethora of other specialty dishes that are a must-try.
Elephant Ear Fish
Fried elephant ear fish
Elephant Ear Fish is a freshwater fish commonly found in the Mekong Delta. It is named for its large, flat shape resembling an elephant's ear and is known for its firm, white flesh, which is both tender and flavorful.
It is typically deep-fried whole until it's crispy on the outside while remaining juicy and tender on the inside. Fresh herbs, lettuce, and other greens often accompany the dish. With this dish, a tangy dipping sauce, usually made with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and garlic, is also required.
To enjoy the dish, you typically wrap a piece of the fish and some herbs in rice paper, creating a roll. Then, dip it in the sauce before eating. You will get a delightful mix of textures and flavors from this combination of crispy fish, fresh herbs, and tangy sauce.
Vietnamese pancakes (Banh xeo) are a popular and savory dish in Vietnamese cuisine, including in regions like Ben Tre. They are very unique in their ingredients and how they are cooked and served.
The batter is made from rice flour, water, and turmeric powder, giving these pancakes a distinctive yellow color at the end. Coconut milk is sometimes added to the batter, especially in Ben Tre. The fillings typically include a mix of pork, shrimp, diced green onion, and bean sprouts. In some variations, other ingredients, like chicken or different types of seafood, can also be used.
This dish is traditionally served with fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, lettuce, and pickled vegetables. A side of fish sauce-based dipping sauce, usually mixed with lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chili, accompanies the dish.
To savor this treat, a piece of the pancake is typically placed on a lettuce leaf, garnished with herbs, rolled up, and then dipped in the sauce for a perfect blend of flavors.
Fried bananas are a popular snack in Ben Tre, which also incorporates elements of coconut. The bananas used are a specific variety that is firmer and less sweet than the dessert bananas. These bananas are peeled and may be left whole, halved, or sliced, depending on the preference. They are then coated in a batter.
The batter can vary, but it often includes rice flour, wheat flour, and sometimes coconut milk for added richness and flavor. In Ben Tre, incorporating coconut into the batter is common due to, of course, the region's abundance of coconuts. The bananas are deep-fried in oil until they turn golden brown and crispy.
The fruit orchards in Ben Tre are important not only for their economic value but also for serving as tourist attractions.
Visitors often partake in fruit-tasting tours where they can walk through lush orchards, pick fresh fruits directly from the trees, and enjoy them in the tranquil, scenic surroundings. Some of the most notable fruits in this place include:
Coconuts: The coconuts here are known for their sweet water and thick, aromatic flesh. Coconuts are used in many local dishes, drinks, and in non-food products.
Durian: Ben Tre is also known for its durian, a fruit famous for its strong odor but loved for its rich and creamy texture. The durians here are considered high quality and are a favorite among durian enthusiasts.
Rambutan: This fruit, with its hairy exterior and sweet, juicy flesh, is widely grown in Ben Tre. The rambutan season is a much-awaited time of the year for both locals and visitors.
One-Day Ben Tre Itinerary
You can consider the 1-day itinerary of Asia Tour Advisor while visiting Ben Tre.
Visit the fruit orchards and try the tasty tropical fruits right from the tree.
Glide through the serene waterways, taking in the charming beauty of rustic villages along the banks.
Explore the river craft and local cottage industries.
Pedal along picturesque country lanes by bicycle, weaving through lush coconut groves and quaint villages.
Create your own handicrafts under the guidance of a skilled craft-man.
1. How to Get Around in Ben Tre?
Here are some common ways to navigate the area:
Motorbike: This is a popular option for visitors who are comfortable on two wheels. Renting a motorbike allows you to explore at your own pace and access places larger vehicles can't reach.
Bicycle: This is an environmentally friendly way to get around. Ben Tre's flat terrain makes cycling easy and pleasant.
Bus: There are local bus services in Ben Tre, which can be an affordable way to travel between towns and attractions. However, they might not be as frequent as in larger cities.
Taxi: Taxi services are also available here, and this is a convenient and comfortable way to travel, especially for longer distances or when traveling in a group.
Boat: A boat tour can be a distinctive way to see the province. Many tours offer insights into local life along the Mekong Delta.
Boating on the Mekong Delta
2. Is It Safe to Travel to Ben Tre?
Traveling to Ben Tre is generally considered safe, and most visitors to Ben Tre have good experiences. Like any travel destination, it's important to take standard precautions to ensure a pleasant and secure trip.
Stay Informed about Local Conditions: Before your trip, check for any travel advisories or updates about Ben Tre. Be aware of the local weather conditions, especially if you visit here in the rainy season.
Respect Local Customs and Laws: Familiarize yourself with local customs, traditions, and laws to avoid any legal issues.
Health Precautions: Make sure you're up to date with the vaccinations recommended for travelers to Vietnam. Drinking bottled or purified water is advisable to avoid waterborne illnesses.
Travel Insurance: It’s wise to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, accidents, and theft.
Guard Your Personal Belongings: Keep your valuable belongings, and be cautious with them in public places.
Road Safety: Always wear a helmet if you plan to rent a motorcycle. Be mindful of the local driving habits and traffic rules. Additionally, you also need a license to drive a motorcycle.
Communication: Have a way to communicate in case of emergency. Carrying a local SIM card for your phone can be very helpful for navigation and in urgent situations.
Check Local Food and Drink: Ensure it's fresh and cooked in hygienic conditions.
Emergency Contacts: keep a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services and your country's embassy or consulate.
3. How Long Should I Spend in Ben Tre?
For a well-rounded experience, a stay of 2 to 3 days is usually recommended.
Now, you have known the top things to do in Ben Tre as well as things to see in Ben Tre. This place indeed includes a plethora of exciting activities with serene boat trips, cycling through picturesque landscapes, exploring vibrant local markets, or immersing in the rich history and culture.
So, every corner of this region brims with experiences waiting to be discovered. Are you ready for your next adventure? Reach out to Asia Tour Advisor today and book your journey to Ben Tre, where extraordinary experiences and unforgettable moments await!