Photo: Vietnam has plenty of statues.

Introduction

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Ben Tre, the capital of the same-named province, is made up of three main islands wedged between the Tien Giang River to the north and to Co Chien River to the south with the Ham Luong River running straight down the centre. All are effectively offshoots of the Mekong River as it splits out into many fingers before spilling out into the South China Sea.


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Famous for its coconut desserts, the province is not surprisingly covered in coconut trees. During the war these coconut trees were used to make coconut oil which was then used as a valuable substitute for kerosene. Verdant and flat, the province is mostly given over to rice and fruit cultivation, though being an island province, fishing is another mainstay of the local economy. Traditional Mekong life is the norm here and it’s a very unadulterated scene—wandering the market, sipping the coffee, doing a boat trip and skipping through the local museum are the main pastimes.

No shortage of rice in Ben Tre. Photo taken in or around Ben Tre, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

No shortage of rice in Ben Tre. Photo: Stuart McDonald

In the past, Ben Tre was a dead-end province, as, unless you had your own transport, you needed to turn around and head back through My Tho to get any further into the Delta. New bridges have put an end to that, and you can easily travel from My Tho to Ben Tre and then onwards to say Tra Vinh for example, with no need to backtrack.

So how to fill your time in Ben Tre? For starters you can do boat trips from here for less than at My Tho and, with its large network of minor canals, there’s a lot of scope for riverine exploration. There’s also a small but interesting museum and a pleasing riverfront worth ... Travelfish members only (Around 700 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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