Photo: Dray Nur waterfall, Buon Ma Thuot.

Rice paper village

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If you’ve ever dug into Vietnamese spring rolls, banh trang nuong or popular nem finger food-style dishes, then you’ll be familiar with banh trang, the rice paper that holds all the delicious ingredients.


Photo of Rice paper village

Ever wonder how it’s made? Five kilometres southwest of Buon Ma Thuot, one village still makes rice paper the old way by hand and it’s possible to visit and watch.

Head out of the city travelling five kilometres southwest on Le Duan/QL14, the same direction as if you were headed to Dray Nur Waterfall. After the southern bus terminal, look for Phan Huy Chu road splitting off to the right. You’ll know when you’ve arrived at the village, locally known as Khu 1 Chi Lang, is at and you’ll know when you’ve arrived; there is rice paper drying on bamboo racks everywhere – lining the road, in yards, on every single surface possible.

We went in the morning and walked around until we spotted smoke rising from the back of one house. We politely asked if we could enter and the woman didn’t mind at all – she was on auto-pilot ladling batter onto the steamer, spreading it out like a thin crepe, closing the lid, opening the second lid, lifting the round with a stick, laying it out onto the bamboo rack, ladling batter onto the steamer, spreading it out like a thin crepe, closing the lid... It was hot work, all done over a wood fire and she never paused, even while answering our questions.

She starts work at 04:00 by soaking rice in water and then grinding it into buckets and buckets of batter. Then the steaming begins and doesn’t stop until around 14:30, until she’s made 800 to 1000 sheets. Twenty families in the village make rice paper, though some now use machines that make them in long rectangular sheets. The best time to go is in the morning, except on Sundays. The village is Christian and Sunday is a well-deserved day off.

It’s a lot of work but an essential ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine.


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Location map for Rice paper village

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