Sitting on the left bank of South Vietnam’s Saigon River, Thu Dau Mot is the capital city of the Binh Duong Province. A part of Ho Chi Minh City’s Metropolitan Area, Thu Dau Mot has become a hub for foreign investors and businesses.
Industrial parks, manufacturing plants, large factories, and administrative centers have been established using funds from foreign investors based in Singapore, Japan, and Australia. The influx of foreign investment and rapid growth in Thu Dau Mot has also helped bring tourists to the city.
Capital City of the Binh Duong Province
Thu Dau Mot is a rapidly expanding city in Vietnam’s Southern Key Economic Zone. As the capital of Binh Duong, Thu Dau Mot is the largest urban area in the province. However, even with its well-developed urban environment, the city still has a small-town vibe. Less hectic than Saigon, Thu Dau Mot has become a destination for travelers who want to escape the big city for a weekend.
HCMC is close to Thu Dau Mot as it sits about 24 km (15 mi) away, down the Saigon River. The main road out of HCMC, QL13, will take tourists directly to Thu Dau Mot in just 40 minutes. Driving is the best way to travel from HCMC to Thu Dau Mot using either a private taxi, car, or public bus.
Trains are another option for travelers going to Thu Dau Mot as there are a few high-speed rails providing service from HCMC.
Before Thu Dau Mot became the provincial capital that it is today, the city was called Phú Cuòng. A small town, Phú Cuòng was used as an administrative center for a few wards within the province during the days of French colonization and war. It wasn’t until a few decades after the Vietnam War that foreign investors began to develop the area and the city became a ward of the province.
By the early 1990s, Phú Cuòng was changed to Thu Dau Mot and it became the provincial capital. Though the expansion of Thu Dau Mot as a city and economic center began in the late 1990s, it didn’t explode until the 2010s. In 2012, it was upgraded from a town to a city and secured its first-class rating by 2017.
Every year, there are new developments being made with a focus especially on the city’s tourist sector. Interestingly, the meaning and origin of the name “Thu Dau Mot” has been heavily debated by historians. Originally thought to be of Cambodian origin, Vietnam argued that the phrase was based on two Vietnamese phrases.
The first, “Thu”, means keep and the second is a Dipterocarpaceae tree, and the third is a Vietnamese number. Altogether, Thu Dau Mot would mean “one tree defense”. Further, legend bases the name in the province’s Binh An ward, where there was said to be a Dipterocarpaceae tree sitting on the top of a hill.
- As of 2018, a census estimates that the population of Thu Dau Mot is 417,000 people.
- Apart from Thu Dau Mot City, there are 14 wards in the Binh Duong Province.
- Thu Dau Mot covers an area of 2,285 sq km (5,290 sq mi).
A mix of old and new attractions await tourists in Thu Dau Mot City. The city’s oldest structures are ornate pagodas and temples, where followers have worshiped figures like Buddha for centuries. In newer segments of the city, large tourist complexes and parks have opened to entertain travelers and their families.
The top attractions in Thu Dau Mot include Dai Nam Wonderland Complex, Cong Vien Trung Tam Thanh Pho Moi Park, Binh Duong Museum, Hoi Khanh Pagoda, and Thanh Le Water Park.
Dai Nam Wonderland Complex
After nearly 10 years of construction, Dai Nam Wonderland Complex opened in 2008 to tourists in Thu Dau Mot. Boasting records like having the longest wall, largest temple, largest artificial sea, and largest tourist area in Vietnam, Dai Nam Wonderland combines multiple attractions into one 450-hectare park.
Though much of the park is new, the temple area within Dai Nam Wonderland Complex dates to Vietnam’s Ly Dynasty. The two impressive structures within the temple area are the Than Van Gate and Kiem Dien (Golden) Temple. New additions to the park include a multi-use racetrack, zoo, artificial sea, and amusement park.
The Dai Nam Racetrack is a large area within the complex where tourists can watch competitors race with horses, motorcycles, go-karts, jet skis, or fly boards. At Dai Nam Zoo, there are 100 species of animals held in free-roaming enclosures. A few species, like the giraffes, can be fed by visitors.
The artificial sea and beach are popular spots for families to cool off during the hot summer days. Finally, the amusement park features high-speed roller coasters, a 4D movie theater, and various palaces.
Cong Vien Trung Tam Thanh Pho Moi Park
At the base of the Bình Duong Administration Center, Cong Vien Trung Tam Thanh Pho Moi Park has numerous grassy areas and a large lake with a variety of walking paths. Sometimes called the New City Center or Fountain of Bình Duong, additional small attractions in the park include karaoke bars, cafes, and a few restaurants.
However, most of the park features open space or tree-lined paths. Crowds can get quite large and loud during the weekends. Visitors who are looking to see the park without all the noise should plan a trip for a weekday instead.
Binh Duong Museum
Although small, Binh Duong Museum packs a lot into its compact space. Housed in an older building, the museum boasts a variety of historical artifacts that are relevant to the city and province’s history.
Dating back to the days of early human habitation or boasting cultural significance, artifacts include Vietnamese traditional handicraft tools, cultural relics like drums, fabrics, and ancient tools as well as pieces from the days of the Vietnam War. Tourists who want to learn more about the province should plan to spend a few hours exploring Binh Duong Museum.
Hoi Khanh Pagoda
Thu Dau Mot City’s oldest place of worship is the Hoi Khanh Pagoda, which was originally built in 1781. The original building was destroyed during French colonization in 1861. Rebuilt in 1868, the temple has remained mostly unchanged since it was restored at its final location. In 1993, Hoi Khanh Pagoda became a national site of history and culture in Vietnam.
New sites near the pagoda have been added including the Song Be Provincial Basic Buddhism Study. Tourists at the site can tour the pagoda’s four areas, which are the frontier hall, East and West corridors, tower, and gardens.
Thanh Le Water Park
Much smaller than the Dai Nam Wonderland Complex, Thanh Le Water Park is a local attraction where visitors can relax in the various pools. Great for families with young kids, the park has 6 slides that are friendly for travelers of all ages. Open daily, the park is especially busy during the summer months when people are trying to catch a break from the high temperatures.
An active city with a well-developed tourist sector, Thu Dau Mot has an extensive network of hotels and hostels for travelers to enjoy. Accommodation options include 1-to-5-star hotels, serviced apartments, and hostels. The best places to stay in Thu Dau Mot City are Bcons Hotel Bình Duong, Becamex Hotel New City, Long Bao Chau Hotel, and The Mira Hotel.
Bcons Hotel Bình Duong – In the city center, Bcons Hotel Bình Duong has been highly rated for its friendly staff and on-site facilities, which include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, garden, and terrace. Guests will have access to a 24-hour front desk, room service, and currency exchange. Every room has an AC as well as a safety deposit box, TV, and private bathroom.
Becamex Hotel New City – Modern and elegant, the Becamex Hotel New City is one of the recently established hotels in Thu Dau Mot City. Located in the center of the Bình Duong New City, the hotel features an on-site restaurant, outdoor pool, private parking, and Wi-Fi.
Each room features a modern design and is equipped with AC, TV, minibar, and private bathrooms with walk-in rain showers. A 24-hour front desk provides a variety of services to guests including arranging for meals, transportation, and tours.
Long Bao Chau Hotel – Near the Dai Nam Wonderland Complex, Long Bao Chau Hotel is a 3-star hotel offering standard, superior, deluxe, family, and executive rooms to leisure or business travelers. Provided by the hotel are a 24-hour reception desk, free parking, complimentary Wi-Fi, and access to computers.
On the 4th floor, there is an in-house restaurant and small bar. Rooms at Long Bao Chau all have a minibar, seating area, and private bathroom.
The Mira Boutique Hotel – The only 5-star accommodations in Thu Dau Mot is called The Mira Boutique Hotel. Located just a short drive away from attractions like the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 1 & 2, Song Be Golf Course, and Dai Nam Wonderland Complex, the hotel is highly rated amongst guests as being excellent, perfect, and fantastic.
Complimentary hotel services include Wi-Fi, a 24-hour front desk, outdoor pool, business center, and tour arrangements. Hotel rooms are carpeted and have AC, as well as a personal safe, TV, and seating area. The on-site restaurant serves Chinese cuisine, as well as Western dishes.
Thu Dau Mot has a diverse culinary scene with many restaurants serving both local Vietnamese dishes and international cuisine. Though many hotels have their own dining establishments, there are dozens of well-rated restaurants throughout the city. Some of the best places to eat in Thu Dau Mot are Angelina’s Tacos Mexican, Bistro18+, Billy House, and Sushi Akataiyo Thu Dau Mot.
Angelina’s Tacos Mexican – Providing travelers with a little taste of Mexico while in Vietnam, Angelina’s Tacos Mexican Restaurant has become a hotspot for international tourists. Well-liked for the great service and affordable prices, favorite dishes on the menu include the burritos and nachos. An outdoor seating area creates a garden-like feel so that guests can relax after a long day.
Bistro18+ – Upbeat and with a lively atmosphere, Bistro18+ has become one of Thu Dau Mot’s best restaurants. On the menu are imported goods like craft beers and prime cuts of meat. Artistic and flavorful, food at the Bistro18+ draws its inspiration from European favorites and traditional Asian ingredients. In addition, guests can partake in fun activities like karaoke throughout the week.
Billy House – A steakhouse, Billy House, known as Quán Ông Tây to the locals, is a popular place for tourists to enjoy meals like tacos, pizza, pasta, and steak. Serving a variety of dishes, the restaurant does have higher prices than other establishments in the city, however, out of hundreds of reviews, the food is consistently rated as delicious.
Sushi Akataiyo Thu Dau Mot – Serving Japanese food, Sushi Akataiyo Thu Dau Mot is known for its great food and service. Sushi, ramen, and udon are favorites at this restaurant. Laid out with a shared, open dining area, the second floor of the Sushi Akataiyo does have private dining rooms for guests traveling as a larger party. The restaurant offers takeaway and delivery.
Thu Dau Mot City has a few festivals that are uniquely held at its pagodas, parks, and city centers, such as the Ba Pagoda Festival, Don Cai Tai Tu Music and Song Festival, and Binh Duong Festival. In the city center on the 15th of the first lunar month, the Ba Pagoda Festival is held to honor the Mother of the Land, Thiên Hâu Thánh Mâu, with lion dances and lantern lighting.
In April, the Don Cai Tai Tu Music and Song Festival preserve some of Vietnam’s unique ethnic culture. During it, there are parades of motorcycles, art showcases, and performances by musical artists. Finally, in late November, the Bình Duong Food Festival brings both exhibitionists and tourists to the city to view and taste culinary delights from around Vietnam.
As a large city, visitors cannot always rely on their feet to get them around Thu Dau Mot. While concentrated areas of the city can be easily navigated on foot, sometimes the distance between attractions can span more than a few miles. The best way for tourists to get around Thu Dau Mot is by taxi.
With a mild climate throughout the year, Thu Dâu Môt sees peaks of tourists throughout various seasons. While summer is hot, humid, rainy, and considered to be the off-season, tourists still head to the city to explore its various water parks including Vietnam’s largest artificial sea.
Designed with tourists in mind, Thu Dau Mot has become one of the top tourist areas in HCMC’s Metropolitan Area. Much less crowded than HCMC, the city gives visitors glitz and glam without being too loud or overbearing. Packed with tourist attractions and sites, Thu Dau Mot welcomes travelers exploring Southern Vietnam.
Activities near Thu Dau Mot