Ben Tre  is the capital of eponymous Ben Tre Province in southern Vietnam. Although only a 20 min ferry-ride away from bustling My Tho, this seems to be barrier enough to give the town a genuine backwater feeling. Tourists are still a scarce species and locals are open and friendly.
Ben Tre Province provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the Mekong delta. The milk coffee colored waters wind their way along small channels lined with water palms, thatch and bamboo houses are nestled in the lush orchards. The famous Vietnamese poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu was born in Ben Tre Province, but until now this fact hasn't spawned touristic exploitation.
If you would like to experience a boat tour, I highly recommend you to do it with DinHo Ecotour.
There is a ferry from Vinh Long Province to the north-western part of the island, again you may want to hire some sort of transport to cover the remaining distance to Ben Tre town.
You will need a taxi (moto ~ 20,000 Dong for 10min ride). There is also bus 8 from ferry pier 4km east of Vinh Long city to Ben Tre. It seems frequent, costs 19,000 Dong (May 2016) for 2h trip.
Pay attention when arriving in Ben Tre as the bus goes through town centre before going to outer bus station, so you can get & early & save a taxi fare.
Best seems to stop at the roundabout after the two big bridge and Mat Kinh Dien Bien Phu optic shop and take a taxi (moto ~ 15-20k Dong) to the town center.
Direct (mini-)bus services from Ho Chi Minh City are to be found at Mien Tay bus station. A new bridge, constructed in 2009, now connects the city to My Tho so the bus ride is direct, without a ferry.
You can find the location of Ben Tre bus station on Google Maps easily with the keyword "Bến xe Bến Tre".
- Thinh Phat Bus - 25A Su Van Hanh Ward 9, Quan 5, Ho Chi Minh City - leaves every hour from 5 AM -7.30 PM, for 65 000 VND.
- Minh Tam Bus - 204C Sư Vạn Hạnh, Ward 9, Quan 5, Ho Chi Minh City - leaves every hour from 5 AM - 7.30 PM, for 65 000 VND.
- Hoang Khai Bus - 86C Hùng Vương, Ward 9, Quan 5, Ho Chi Minh City - leaves every hour from 5 AM - 7.30 PM, for 65 000 VND.
The town is stretched along the river, so a bicycle or a motorbike seem to be the best way, especially if you are planning to take it to the orchards on the far side of the river. Bicycles can be hired from the large Ham Luong hotel on the north bank of the river ~1km west of central market. Ask nicely at reception.
It is not difficult to take the bus to many districts in Ben Tre Province. Here is the list of the buses:
- Bus 01: Tien Giang Bus Station - Rach Mieu Bridge - Ben Tre Bus Station - National Roadway 60 - Ham Luong Bridge - Co Chien Bridge
- Bus 02: Ben Tre Bus Station - Provincial Roadway 885 - Ba Tri Town - Tiem Tom Town
- Bus 03: Ben Tre bus station - Tan Phu Ferry Station
- Bus 04: Ben Tre bus station - Cau Van Bridge - Giao Thanh market (Thanh Phu district)
- Bus 05: Chau Thanh town center - Binh Dai town center
- Bus 07: Ben Tre bus station - Son Doc (Giong Trom district)
- Bus 08: Ben Tre bus station - Cho Lach town - Dinh Khao Ferry Station (connect to Vinh Long city)
Tips: The schedule for the buses is flexible. So you must to wait about 10~ 30 minutes. The buses work from 5.00 AM - 5.00 PM. The buses usually stop at the bus stations, but you can wave your hands to ask the bus stop anywhere on the the roadways.
People in Ben Tre don't use the the number of house and the name of the streets to locate, so don't try to ask the local people with those kinds of information. It will be easier to give them the name of the places you want to visit. Example: You want to arrive in a hotel, which is nearby the Truc Giang Lake, just ask the people how to go to Truc Giang Lake or the name of the hotel (In Vietnamese, it is: The name +".... ở đâu?" - sounds as "er dou", means "Where is ...?").
These are some tips to travel around Ben Tre and visit some attracted places in Ben Tre (local villages, historic places,..) by Bus.
Travel around Ben Tre by Bus:
- Bus 01: Tiền Giang Bus Station (Bến xe Tiền Giang)– Cổ Chiên Bridge (Cầu Cổ Chiên). With Bus no. 01, you can travel around the center of this little city.
This bus departs from Tien Giang Bus Station (Bến xe Tiền Giang), goes over Rạch Miễu Bridge (Cầu Rạch Miễu), then goes along National Roadway 60 (Quốc lộ 60), to Tân Thành Crossroads (Ngã tư Tân Thành), to Đồng Văn Cống street ("đường Đồng Văn Cống" or "Lộ mới" - New National Roadway). You can find the tourist company provide the boat tour at the foot of Rach Mieu Brdige.
The bus turns left on a crossroads (Ngã ba Rùa - Turtle Crossroads), then continue moving to Nga Nam Market (chợ Ngã Năm). You can stop here, visit the market and Vien Giac Pagoda (Hoang Lam Street, Ward 5, Ben Tre City, Phường 5, tp. Bến Tre, Ben Tre, Việt Nam).
Then, the bus goes along Cach Mang Thang Tam street (đường Cách Mạng Tháng Tám - or - August Revolution Street), and Dong Khoi Street (the main street in this city). You can stop in the center to visit the Ben Tre market, the most important market in Ben Tre city, or Sense City Mall.
The bus will go back 60 National Roadway, then goes over another big bridge - Ham Luong (Cầu Hàm Luông) to Mo Cay District area (Huyện Mỏ Cày). It will continue going along 57 National Roadway, to Mo Cay Town (Thị trấn Mỏ Cày). Mo Cay is the original place of coconut candy. You can visit around this small town to buy coconut candy or some fruits.
Along 57 National Roadway, you can visit the Coconut Fiber Traditional Handicraft Villages in An Thạnh, Khánh Thạnh Tân,.. or Mat Traditioonal Village in Thành Thới B. The final destination is Co Chien Bridge, which connects Ben Tre and Tra Vinh.
- Bus 02: Ben Tre City - Tiem Tom Town, Ba Tri District (Tiệm Tôm, xã An Thủy, Huyện Ba Tri)
It departs from Ben Tre Bus Station (Bến xe Bến Tre), goes along Dong Khoi Street, and Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street.
Ben Tre City from the river side
- Taking a tour along the rivers in Con Phung Island is one of the most popular activities in Ben Tre. From Ben Tre city, take the bus no 01 or a motortaxi ("xe ôm") to Rach Mieu Bridge or Rach Mieu Ferry, you can buy a ticket of the tour easily. Price is about 100,000 VND - 200,000 VND (5 USD - 10 USD) which depends on the number of people. OR taking a private tour by boat along the river, the small canal and smaller canal and by bike along village paths with both sides of tropical fruit farms and vegetable farms in Ben Tre city "Simple and Rustic" - DinHo Ecotour.
- Take the bus no 07 to Provincial Street 887 and then take a motortaxi, you can visit Con Oc Island easily. This islands will give you the memorable experiences of local life in Ben Tre.
- There are some museums and temples, pagodas. Ben Tre Museum- Ben Tre city and Dong Khoi Building of Historical Value (Nhà tuong niem Dong Khoi) - Mo Cay District will make you know more Vietnam War and Dong Khoi Revolution in Ben Tre. Ben Tre was the beginning of the revolutions in Mekong Delta, with a famous woman army. There are some famous temples and pagodas with local people such as An Hoi Temple, Binh Hoa Temple, Phu Tu Temple, Tan Thach Temple, Van Phuoc Pagoda (Binh Dai)...
- Nguyen Dinh Chieu Poet's mausoleum (Ba Tri) is also worthy to visit, especially in Ben Tre Traditional culture days (July 1st).
- Every 4 years, there is a Coconut Festival with many exciting traditional activities. The last festival was from April 7th - April 13th, 2015.
- You could have a look at the unspoiled market or visit the rice wine factory on the south bank, 0.5 km west from the old bridge. You can also visit the inevitable coconut candy factory here. It's a must if you haven't been to one yet, since in this "factory" basically everything is done by hand.
- You also can visit the Traditional handicraft villages such as: My Long - Son Doc Rice Paper Villages (Ba Tri), Cai Mon Fruit and Flower Village Cho Lach), Hung Phong Coconut handicraft village (Giong Trom), Phu Le Traditional Alcohol village (Ba Tri).
- Tips: Ben Tre has most beautiful scenes in Mekong Delta and they are still be very original. Rent a bicycle and riding around the streets in countryside is really an memorable experience. Inside the city area, it is recommended to ride bicycle along 883 Streets ( Đường huyện 883), Binh Phu village, and My Thanh An Village. If you have enough time, riding bicycle to other districts (Mo Cay Bac, Chau Thanh,..) is also amazing.
Trung Tam Dieu Hanh Du Lich Ben Tre (Ben Tre tour operation center) or DinHo Ecotour has some tours by boat, by bike or cart and homestay addresses. It also gives some information on the city.
- Ben Tre Private Tours (Boat and Bike) (DinHo Ecotour), Ben Tre City, Ben Tre, Vietnam (Contact us: [email protected]), ☎ +84 907456791 (Mr. Dinh), . Upon a boat, you can see local activities on water, cargo boats, fruit boats... especially many kinds of trap from local fishermen along the river, small canal and smaller canal - Paddle boat on a narrow canal (Round boat trip). On a bike ride, you can see local activities on land, tropical fruit farms and vegetable farms along small village paths (Round bike trip). edit
- Explore the Delta. boat trips are one of the nicest ways to negotiate the network of channels, but the land in between the waters is just as fascinating. It's fun to follow some of the small trails along the channels, crossing sidearms on very basic bridges and walking by fruit and coconut orchards. edit
- Coconut candy factory. There are apparently four factories across town. The shop selling the coconut candy (keo dua) is in the front and the factory is in the back. The visit of the factory where you see the women making the handmade candy is free. 212B Dai Lo Dong Khoi (there is a second shop across the street). Enjoy! edit
- Market on riverside. edit
- Ben Tre green tourist (Bao Duyen Tourist), 18D, An Thuan A, My Thanh An, TP Ben Tre, Ben Tre, Viet Nam (Email: [email protected]), ☎ 0753817366 - 01267593979, . edit
- Paddeling on a Mekong Canal (Ecological Tourist Mười Nở), 216A Hamlet 1, Nhon Thanh District, Ben Tre City, ☎ +841647004069. Rent your own paddle boat with a guide for 50000 Dong/15 minutes and discover the Mekong side canals. You can do this with a tour (way more expensive) or try to find it by yourself. You should be able to find it by following these directions: Cross the bridge in Ben Tre City from the North to the South bank and go straight. At the end of the street is a small bridge to the right. After crossing the bridge you turn left and go straight for about 3km. You will cross three bridges, the last of which is just past a school. After the third bridge, there is a small shop to your right and a small street next to it. Follow that street until the end (about 600m). The place is the last building to your right. You can also do a homestay, have local food in the restaurant or even make your own chopsticks. edit
There is a complex of CoopMart supermarket and Sense City Shopping Mall with air conditioning (food, department store, game center) near 'Cong Vien Dong Khoi' park, north of the lake/pond.
There are many small local markets in every area in the city.
If you want to buy the fresh food, the best markets to buy will be Ben Tre market in the center and "Chợ Đầu mối" (Ward 8) next to Ca Loc Bridge.
The usual food stalls are found around the market. Be warned that one of the favourite soups in the Delta, Hu Tieu, contains boiled intestines and liver, so choose wisely. There is also a floating restaurant near the old bridge. Sweet bakery for breakfast? Go to the huge CoopMart (8-22) just behind Hai Ba Trung street. It's very good and on budget.
- Nam Song, Phan Ngoc Tong. Attention extra 2,000 Dong if you use the wet tissu. I never saw a single local eating here, and we were never able to get food here. prices from 25k (com ga) to 250k (tom xao). edit
Some local specialty foods are "Chuối đập" (grilled banana), "Bánh canh bột sắc thịt vịt" (a local noodle dish with duck) or "Bún riêu" (a type of noodle).
You can find "Chuối đập" at Truc Giang lake in the center of Ben Tre city, "Bún riêu" at Tu Dien Crossroads ("Ngã ba Tú Điền"), and "bánh canh" at any food street vendor on Dong Khoi street.
- Mekong River Seafood Restaurant, 555 An Khah, ☎ 753869555. A beautiful restaurant by the river over looking the Rach Mieu Bridge. Good place to entertain your customers and friends. ideal for wedding and company events. edit
Coldest beer in Ben Tre? Go to the Oasis. Bar closes at 9.30pm.
Club 007: Most popular nightclub in town. Extremely loud techno(earplugs recommended). Only busy on weekends. Mostly 18-30 year old crowd with some slightly older, wealthy locals in the VIP area.
AP 1 - Xa Son Dong - QL60 - TP Ben Tre
Ph: 075 3833 369
There are many traditional drinkings you can find easily in the local markets: "Nước sâm" (Traditional Herbal Tea), "Chè", "Dừa dứa" (A special coconut),...
- Trade Union Hotel, 50 Hai Ba Trung, ☎ 825082. edit
- Government Guesthouse, 148 Hung Vuong, ☎ 826134. edit
- Ben Tre Hotel, 8/2 Tran Quoc Tuan, ☎ 822223. edit
- Forever Green Resort, Ben Tre, . edit
- Ham Luong Hotel, 200 Nguyen Van Tu, 5th Ward, ☎ (+84-75)818 595, . One of the best hotels in Ben Tre and fancy for a three star hotel with outside swimming pool, steambath and sauna. Buffet breakfast is a mix between asian and western food. All rooms have cable internet, TV with English channels and so on. Next to Ben Tre tourist. Rooms between 17 - 39 dollars. edit
- Khach San Phuong Hoang, 28, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, north of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 07184.108.40.206. Cold shower (some hot ?), Fan or Air condition, Free wifi, Limited english-speaking staff between 120-180,000 Dong for a single room. edit
- Khach San Dong Khoi / Dong Khoi Hotel, 16, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, north of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 075.3822501 - 075.3822632 ([email protected], fax: 075.3822240). hot water except cheapest rooms, free wifi, restaurant, karaoke, massage single 150-240k, strangely prices dropped if checkin after 4pm 100-120k. edit
- Nha Nghi 99, 73, Phan Ngoc Tong, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, street south of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 075.3831234, 075.3811233. Air condition, no wifi, limited english-speaking staff. single 150k Dong. edit
- Oasis hotel, 151 My Thanh An, Ben Tre 1234, Vietnam (across river), ☎ 0752467799, . kiwi and vietnamese owners, free wifi, swimming-pool, english, viet, khmer spoken. cold beer, local knowlebge. number one on trip advisor edit
- Que Huong, 38 Hai Ba Trung (Red house in front of the town's chilly lake.), ☎ 075 3835 888. All rooms with hot shower and fresh towel, Fan 100k-120k, A/C 160k-180k. Good service, limited English and friendly. edit
- Hai Long Hotel, 500 A2, KP2, Tan Phu, Ben Tre City, Ben Tre, Viet Nam ((Email: [email protected])(English speaking : 0918.516.626 )), ☎ 0753.8511236 - 0753.829505, . Two star hotel 100 - 300k Dong. edit
- Dai An Hotel, 234-D8 Hùng Vuong, Phuong 7 - TP Ben Tre (At the market turn right and follow the river for about 1Km, it's opposite to Oasis Hotel which is located on the other side of the river), ☎ 0753512050. All rooms are clean and quiet, have hot shower, AC, strong WiFi, small balcony, TV with English channels, minibar, towels and toiletry provided, room cleaned every day. The receptionist has limited english but she is very kind. Nearby you have 2 café and a little further several local eateries offering noodle soups. The market is 10 to 15 minutes away. 280 000 Double 400 000 (2 queen beds). edit
Either go to the outer bus station, but you can get minibus to My Tho or Ho Chi Minh City inside town
- to Ho Chi Minh City: 70k Dong, on tran quoc tuan street north of the lake/pond. If you take Thinh Phat you can buy a return ticket at the station, the last bus of each day is 7:30 p.m.
- to My Tho: ~20k, on dong khoi street, bus stop near school
- to Vinh Long: take a local bus (number 8) to Pha Dinh Khao. The bus takes hour and a half, costs 20.000 dong (March 2015). The final stop is 100 metres from ferry pier. A short ferry ride (1000 dong) will take you to Vinh Long.
The cargo boats also will take you to places like Tra Vinh, Can Tho or Vinh Long. The boats leave between 8h30 and 9h every day. It takes a very long time, but it's a adventurous and cheap option (expect to pay between 60.000VND and 120.000VND each person).
They leave from the area east of the new bridge. Boats are light blue.
Ba Tri: 40 minute scooter ride east of Ben Tre