Backpacking around Ho Chin Minh soon? Or if you are old school,we should actually say “Backpacking Saigon soon”?
We got feed back that the one day Mekong river tour wasn’t that good. So we asked the tour counter of which tour to follow. They recommended the Ben Tre and My Tho One day Tour. So we decided to go for it.
We referred to the Lonely Planet Guide, and apparently The Sinh Tourist Tour Company seems to be reliable and quite popular among travelers. So we decided to check it out.
The sinh tourist is famous and runs well-organized tours in Vietnam
There are brochures that come in different languages that explains the different tours that The Sinh Tourist Agency offers.
There are pictures on the walls but they don’t tell you much. Just a pretty picture of one of the places that you will be visiting in the tour. Most likely the photographer chose the best place and angle to take the picture, to give you the impression that it is a beautiful place. So as a tourist, you can’t really depend on the words and single picture framed up on the walls to tell you what you will be expecting during the tour. It is usually a sales gimmick!!
We hope you don’t mind, that this blog is a little too long, because we took everything and anything that could help you visualize what to expect on the Ben Tre and My Tho One Day Tour.
ben tre and my tho tour
The staff at the counter seemed helpful enough. We paid 240,000 dong (~13 USD) for the Ben Tre and My Tho Tour per person. We are about to know if was worth our money. Read on.
queuing up to be served by English speaking tour staff
Instead of the usual blog of just telling you what to expect. We decided to do the tour, with a scenario. And today’s scenario is “What if you forgot to bring your slippers for the holiday and all you have are hotel bedroom free slippers” . So we try
Doing the tour with disposable hotel bed slippers
At first when the slippers came out from the plastic bag, it was all new and comfortable. It seemed to draw a lot of attention from other tourists tho.
Seem to stand out from the crowd in my slippers
On your receipt, you will be told what number is the tour bus, that you will be boarding. So take note and stay alert because plenty of times where they change the bus numbers, just to fill the buses up. So you might end up having to board another bus. So be attentive. Last thing you want is to be left out.
Let the fun begin! All the tourists get hurdled in to air conditioned express buses
The bus ride took about 1 hour 30 minutes. Then you need to board a motorized wooden boat, that will take you up the Mekong River.
Taking the boat along the Mighty Mekong
Proving that the slippers are still on board!
The boat is a simple wooden boat. The cute thing about it is that there are wooden seats just put on top of the boat. So make sure you don’t topple over.
Plenty of vegetation around the banks of the river. “The tour guide told us” that most of the plantations beside the river were palm trees and sea coconut plants.
scene from the very front of the boat as it cruises along the Mekong
Please ignore the feet. The feet were enjoying the cool village breeze.
Coconut plantations by the river side
We went under bridges and past locals riding bicycles going about their daily routine.
panoramic view of the river
drying coconut husks under the sun
view of the banks of the river
The banks of the river is lined with sea coconuts.
for those who haven't seen a sea coconut
After the boat ride. You will need to get off and walk through the village to have lunch.
walking in the country side
Lunch is served at one of the local village huts. There are people there to serve you. Take note that the food is paid with the tour fee. But you will need to pay for the drinks. (So don’t go too happy when you see that they serve beer)
stopping at a local village hut for lunch
One of the specialties served is the fish that they call “Elephant Ear Fish” that is found abundantly in the Mekong. Maybe the fish is flat and wide which reminds them of elephant ears 😀
Girl serving some "elephant ear fish"
Nicely decorated standing up, but a bit hard to eat. We ended up lying it down on its sides.
elephant ear fish with Vietnamese spring rolls
You will be served with fresh fish wrapped with a thin rice film, with some rice noodles, mint leave, pineapple and cucumber strips. Dip it in the sweet and sour sauce for a yummy experience.
wrapping up the "elephant ear fish meat" to make fresh spring rolls
Next on the menu is cat fish. Cat fish meat is very rich and has very high fat content. And it tastes very smooth when you put it into your mouth.
steamed rice with cat-fish and vegetables
P/s: Again we would like to stress that the meal comes with the price of the tour. But you will need to pay for your drinks. They serve can drinks and also beer.
After lunch, you will have to walk past coconut plantations and local village huts to the main road.
taking a short walk with a full stomach
Then you get on the carts which are waiting for you. We saw the same cart, carrying a bunch of squealing pigs, most probably headed to the market. Got us thinking if the same cart ferrying us, was the same before it came and fetch us. O.o scary!
carted away on make shift carts attached to motorcycles is an experience
The ride was very refreshing because you get to see the local countryside and also enjoy the fresh breeze.
Here, you will get the chance to experience, how to row your own boat along the Mekong River, while you wear a Vietnamese conical hat!
after lunch you get to row your own boat along the Mekong!
6 to a boat. Of course they have a boat man sitting behind just to make sure you dont take all day to reach the other side
After competing to see who could row faster along the river. (This is a great place to take pictures of each other). It is hard to take pictures of your self because, a slight movement on the boat can cause it to rock really violently.
Next visit is the coconut candy factory! This is only one of the many produce from the coconuts they plant here.
This first picture shows a man, slowly stirring the coconut mixture to caramelize it.
visiting the coconut candy factory
The caramelized paste is then molded into long strips and then manually cut into small cubes. Very delicious chewy cubes! Not too sweet and fragrant. Just the way we like it.
Sticky yummy coconut candy! Fresh from the stirring pot! Sticks to the hand
Here they sell the wooden craft you can find in the markets in Saigon. What is interesting is the thin pancakes they sell. They have different flavors. There are free samples for you to try. You will need to BBQ or gently pan heat it to make it crispy. Goes well as a snack.
Some souvenir shopping at the Coconut Candy factory
Tour guide explaining and selling coconut candy to the group
Offer offer he says. Buy 4 packets get 1 free. (Nice as souvenirs) However we did see some other coconut candy for sale in town that had better wrapping. The taste is the same.
The bottles on the left are coconut wine. It is similar to “Todi” or Coconut Liquor found in Malaysia. Warning: Coconut wine are very strong stuff. You can ask the guide for samples. Samples come in shot glasses.
The visit to the coconut candy factory ends with: You get to sit down and sample the different local fruits and also fresh local honey
Clockwise: Round brown fruit: Longan, Pineapple, Dragon fruit, banana and rambutan.
After sampling the fruits and the coconut candy factory visit. You guys will take the slow big boat back home.
taking the big boat back home
Plenty of scenery along the river. The river was a bit brownish, and dirty. Its amazing that the Vietnamese use the water for everyday usage.
houses along the river
On the way back, the boat will make one last stop before heading home. A visit to the red brick factory. Here you will get to see how they make bricks in Vietnam.
Last visit before heading back. A visit to the brick factory
Nothing goes to waste in Vietnam. Rice husks are being used as fuel to burn the fires in the kiln. Then the burnt husks are sold off as fertilizer for the crops.
Man using rice husks to slowly burn and heat up the bricks
from inside the kiln, looking up!
red bricks being stacked in the kiln before being cooked for few months
After a short visit to the brick factory. Its time to head home.
taking the river boat back
The slippers SURVIVED!!!. Though half the thread has already come off. And the worse part of the trip was that it rained. We would be in deep trouble if the tour lasted another 2 hours. The mud kind of got the better of the slippers.
Overall: We fare the Ben Tre and My Tho tour trip, as relaxing with very little strenuous activities to do. If you love nature and would like to take a break from the “Chu Chi Tunnels” and horrific war torture and history attractions, then you might want to consider this tour. It was a one day relaxing tour!
If you are interested, you can always find any of the Sinh Tourist Tour Outlets at The Sinh Tourist .
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