Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Vietnam : Southern Vietnam : Ben Tre
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.
Ferries from Rach Mieu in My Tho (20 min/24h) arrive some 10 km north of Ben Tre, so you might want to hire a Xe Om to take you to the town center.
There is also 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. There is also bus 8 from ferry pier to Ben Tree. It seems frequent, costs about 25,000 Dong for 2h trip. You will need a taxi (moto ~ 20,000 Dong for 10min ride). Pay attention when arriving in Ben Tre as the bus goes to outer bus station. 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 Cholon and 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. On arrival at the bus station in Ben Tre, a very welcoming man with good English will try to get you to his travelling guide rated guest house by showing books and stuff. In fact, the ride there takes you back where your bus came from, halfway to My Tho, about 10km from Ben Tre. Make sure to get from Ben Tre bus station into the town of Ben Tre, not elsewhere.
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.
There are no real sights in their own right, but 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.
Trung Tam Dieu / Ben Tree tour operation center (closed during lunch) has some tours by boat (US$ 25/30 for 1/2 persons 3-4h), by bike or cart and homestay addresses. It also gives some information on the city. Another option is to speak to one of the man standing around the tourist oriented boat pier (best change is between 2PM and 5PM), which is located on the area west of the new bridge. Some offer nice boat tours combined with biking on one of the islands for around 30USD.
There is a big coopmart with low Air conditioning (food, department store, game center) near 'Cong Vien Dong Khoi' park and north of lake/pond
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 street Hai Ba Trung. It's very good here and budget.
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
Either go to the outer bus station, but you can get minibus to My Tho or Ho Chi Minh City inside town
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