On the cusp of being a busy tourist destination, Ben Tre (Bên Tre) Province has always stayed one step away from Southern Vietnam’s crowds. Within the area of popular South Vietnam destinations, the province has been frequently overlooked in favor of places like My Tho, Vinh Long, and Tra Vinh (Trà Vinh).
The recent completion of new bridges has connected Ben Tre Province to its neighbors, which, in turn, has helped bring more tourists to the area. An up-and-coming destination, Ben Tre’s network of rivers, canals, and waterfronts provide plenty of picturesque scenes for wanderlust travelers.
How to Get to Ben Tre Province
A coastal province in Southern Vietnam, Ben Tre is part of the country’s famous Mekong Delta Region. Geographically, the entire province sits between two branches of the Tien Giang (Tiên Giang) River, which is itself the main northern branch of Vietnam’s Mekong River.
Previously only accessible by ferry, new developments, which include the Rach Mieu (Rach Miêu) Bridge, has made Ben Tre more accessible to its neighboring provinces. Travelers can now journey by road from the Tien Giang (Tiên Giang) Province because of the Rach Mieu Bridge. My Tho, a city in the Tien Giang Province, is just 25 minutes north of Ben Tre by road.
One hour to the south and also connected by a bridge is Tra Vinh (Trà Vinh) City, capital of the Tra Vinh Province. Ho Chi Minh City, South Vietnam’s most famous urban area, is just 2 hours northeast of Ben Tre. The easiest way for travelers to get from HCMC to Ben Tre is by bus, taxi, or private car.
History in Ben Tre Province goes back centuries, but the most notable events have happened more recently. In the 19th century, the province was occupied by the French. The provincial capital, also called Ben Tre, was seen as a strategic point due to its location on the Ham Luong River, which made it easy to transport supplies, goods, and people to and from the province.
The Vietnamese locals strongly resisted the French, and with the help of the Vietnam Revolutionary Force (Vietminh), there were many uprisings in the Ben Tre Province. The ultimate battle at Dien Bien Phu resulted in Ben Tre being freed from the French. With the assistance of revolutionary leader and future President Ho Chi Minh, the province regained full independence.
For a while, Ben Tre remained quiet, but problems would start again with the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, the Ben Tre Province existed under a different name, Kien Hoa (Kiên Hòa). Under attack by the Vietcong who was a Communist revolutionary group, Ben Tre was a part of the Tet Offensive.
Led by a female general known as Madame Nguyen Thi Dinh, the Battle of Ben Tre saw South Vietnam victorious over North Vietnam. Until the Fall of Saigon, Ben Tre remained under South Vietnam’s control. However, after the end of the war, the subsequent damage from the battles nearly eliminated Ben Tre entirely.
Rising from the ashes, the city was able to recover and rebuild itself. It was then that the Kien Hoa Province was renamed Ben Tre. In tribute to the province’s darkest days, there are many war sites and memorials throughout the Ben Tre Province. One of the most famous is the Dong Khoi Monument in Ben Tre City, which honors Madame Nguyen Thi Dinh.
- The main agricultural crop in the Ben Tre Province is rice.
- Last estimated in 2019, the population of the Ben Tre Province is 1,624,471 people.
- Ben Tre is divided into 9-district level subdivisions, 7 commune-level towns, 147 communes, 10 wards, and 1 provincial city.
Located on an island in the Ham Luong (Hàm Luông) River, Ben Tre City is the provincial capital. Known to locals as Bao Island, this capital city has become a tourist destination where visitors can learn more about the area’s natural landscape, wartime history, and productions.
Though the city sits on an island, construction of the Rach Mieu (Rach Miêu) Bridge connects Ben Tre to the mainland and its neighboring provincial city, My Tho in the Tien Giang (Tiên Giang) Province. Supported by a tight-knit local community, tourism in Ben Tre City is still developing.
Many tourists overlook Ben Tre in favor of My Tho, but recent attention to the area’s beautiful canals, pagodas and markets have helped make the city a niche destination. Although much of Ben Tre was rebuilt after the war, there’s plenty to see and do. A few of the best attractions are Con Phung (Côn Phung), the Ben Tre Night Market, Vien Minh Pagoda, and Nguyen Thi Dinh Memorial.
Capturing the riverside beauty, most accommodations in Ben Tre City are located on the banks of the Ham Luong. Throughout the city and its outskirts, there are large resorts, boutique hotels, and homestay options to choose from. Ben Tre City’s best accommodations are the Ben Tre Riverside Resort, Diamond Stars Ben Tre Hotel, Mekong Home, and the Forever Green Resort.
Dining options in Ben Tre may seem limited being that international dishes aren’t very popular in the city. With such a tight-knit community, most restaurants choose to serve their variation of Vietnamese traditional meals. Nam Son, Thuy Pizza, the Floating Restaurant, and the local food stalls are the best places to eat in Ben Tre.
Famous Places in Ben Tre Province
Aside from Ben Tre City, most of the province is filled with small communities of towns, communes, and villages. In the rural and quieter parts of the area, visitors can get an up-close experience with the local culture and lifestyle. Places in this southern province that visitors should see are Ba Tri District, Cho Lach (Cho Lách) District, and Thanh Phu (Thanh Phú) District,
Ba Tri District
Featuring rural landscapes and protected habitats, Ba Tri District is a must-see destination for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. Home to the Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary, the district has become a popular destination due to the wild bird species that live in the area. At times there are 500,000 storks and other water birds nesting in the mangrove forests or feeding on the Ba Lai River.
Cho Lach District
A kingdom of fruit, the Cho Lach District is where the famous Cai Mon Durian is grown. Tourists traveling to Cho Lach District will want to stop in the Cai Mon Craft Village where millions of fruit seedlings are cultivated. Popular fruits found in the district are mangosteen, mango, durian, pepper, and various types of citrus.
Stopping over in the Vinh Thanh Commune, there are dozens of artists that create interesting crafts like pottery, painting, and carvings.
Thanh Phu District
About 1.5 hours southeast of Ben Tre City, Thanh Phu District has become one of the province’s best tourist attractions, apart from the capital. Segmented by two branches of the river, Thanh Phu is famous for the Con Phung Tourist Resort. At Con Phung, tourists can wander through lush gardens and drift down canals. Landmarks in the area include the Peace Tower and souvenir stalls.
Ben Tre Province has several tourist attractions to keep guests entertained during their stay. Ranging from natural sites and war memorials to Buddhist temples, Ben Tre has a lot to offer. Some of the must-see sights in the province are Vien Minh Pagoda, Con Quy, Bien Con Bung (Biên Côn Bủng) Beach, Lotus Lakes, and Phu Le Rice Wine Factory.
Vien Minh Pagoda
Ornately decorated and guarded by a set of yellow gates, Vien Minh Pagoda has become a major tourist attraction in Ben Tre City. Open daily, the pagoda is a place of worship where visitors can learn more about Buddhism and religious culture. Visitors will be greeted with friendly faces and are welcome to tour the pagoda grounds.
On the banks of the Tien River, Con Quy is a spot where all the local tours stop to show off the amazing natural landscape of Ben Tre. The best way to see Con Quy is by boat. Lined with lush canals, fruit gardens, and expansive orchards, tourists will fall in love with the natural beauty of Con Quy. A picture-perfect destination, Con Quy is one place that can’t be missed.
Bien Con Bung Beach
Out on the coast of Thanh Phu District, Bien Con Bung Beach is the best place to go to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand. Wide-open and with shallow water, tourists can safely swim, walk, and sunbathe at the beach. Empty during the off-season, tourists pack the beach in the summer months. Local events held at the beach also bring crowds, so visitors should plan their trip accordingly.
Another beautiful place in the Ben Tre Province is the Lotus Lakes. Toured by boat, the lakes are covered in large, leafy pads from which emerge the beautiful lotus flowers. A great backdrop for pictures, tourists can also taste the flowers and pick a few to preserve. Official tours aren’t common, but many travelers are able to negotiate a short cruise through the lakes using local boats.
Phu Le Rice Wine Factory
In Ba Tri District, the Phu Le Rice Wine Factory is one place where tourists can get hands-on experience with local crafts and products. Made by Mrs. Loan, a master distiller, rice wine has become a family tradition for this small community. Producing about 40 liters of wine per week, the factory exports the beverage to bars and restaurants throughout the area.
Tours of the factory are offered daily where Mrs. Loan will show how the wine is mixed, distilled, and served.
With tourism still developing, there aren’t many festivals in the Ben Tre Province that have attracted foreign visitors. However, one celebration that draws in large crowds is the Coconut Festival. Having started in 2009, the festival is held every other year during the month of November.
With over 400 stalls, events during the Coconut Festival include competitions, showcases, seminars, performances, and excursions to the coconut orchards. Tourists traveling to Ben Tre for the Coconut Festival should book accommodations ahead as the crowds often swell to 20,000 people.
Ben Tre Province has a mild year-round climate. Summer tends to be the least popular due to the increase in rain and high temperatures. The dry season, which begins in November and lasts until May, is the ideal time to visit Ben Tre because of cooler temperatures and dry weather. Without rain, the river will be clearer and calmer for excursions on the Mekong.
Beginning in November with the Coconut Festival and lasting through the New Year, the dry season is also a great time for tourists to partake in special celebrations.
In between some of the most popular destinations in the Mekong Delta sits the relatively unknown Ben Tre Province. Yearning to become a hit tourist destination, this southern province is a lucky find for adventurers and sightseers. Without massive crowds, visitors will get an intimate portrait of Southern Vietnam’s culture and traditions.
Plus, the province’s location on the river makes it a hidden gateway to the unique landscapes of the Mekong.
Activities near Ben Tre Province
- Ben Tre City
- Bien Hoa (139km)
- HCMC (107km)
- Can Tho ( 158km)
- Long Xuyen (167km)
- My Tho (37km)
- Rach Gia (217 km)
- Thu Dau Mot (128km)
- Vung Tau (190km)
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