The smaller the boat the better
Published/Last edited or updated: 30th September, 2018
Ben Tre lacks the floating markets that can be visited from other Delta centres like Can Tho, Vinh Long or Chau Doc, but a boat trip, preferably in a very small boat, is still well worthwhile.
Boat trips can be arranged through your guesthouse or homestay, standing around on the river’s edge looking like a tourist (they’ll find you) or by joining an organised tour (this will be in a bigger boat) with Nam Bo tours who have a pier and boat landing on the river down near the Hung Vuong Hotel on the river’s edge.
Because you’ll not be visiting any large floating markets, the smaller the boat the better so that you’re able to be taken into smaller canals, which will better allow you to experience and lush beauty of the area. We organised a sampan through our accommodation (Ba Danh Homestay), who charged us 200,000 dong for a couple of hours paddling around.
This struck us as solid value because, as the homestay is on a quiet canal be were able to spend most of the time being paddled around without much sight of the modern world. It was a beautiful trip, with kingfishers darting between the palms as our boatman slowly paddling along till we reached the wider Ben Tre River, at which point we turned and returned to where we started.
There were no visits to market handicrafts, coconut candy factories, or anything else—just us on the boat in the river. It was great and two hours was just about the right amount of time.
If you are on a bigger boat, say with Nam Bo, you’ll more likely be taken further afield, perhaps to see coconuts being loaded onto large vessels for shipment elsewhere (something we have seen in the past at Ben Tre), but on the downside, you may have twenty other people on the boat with you. When we walked up and asked, they quoted us 300,000 dong per person for a three hour group tour. Our preference is for a sampan which holds just one (two at a squeeze) and the boatman.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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