Come and visit with some talented Vietnamese youngsters and see what their school day is like. Talk with them and learn about their culture. Students harbor an optimistic and vibrant energy that will leave you with a strong impression of the local people and their future.
A collection of weaponry, photos, and propaganda from the Vietnam War (referred to as the American War by the Vietnamese), the Ben Tre Museum is housed in a nondescript structure, and is an excellent way to escape the heat or tropical rains. Recently, the museum received some donations in the form of nineteenth century pottery, thus expanding their collection.
After your boat ride, bike to Mo Cay, the site of an excellent wet market. Here, local residents come to buy fresh fish, meat, and vegetables; also available, though admittedly much rarer, are specialties like rat, snake, and spiders, few of which find their way into a typical Vietnamese meal.
Afterwards, bike to a local guesthouse and eat a delicious lunch of traditional Vietnamese dishes served in a breezy pavilion overlooking the river.
For a chance to experience relatively untouched parts of Vietnam that few foreigners visit, board a private, covered cruising boat, stocked with cold, cloth towels, bottled water, fresh, seasonal fruits, and green tea. Relax as the boat makes its way downriver, and the only sounds to be heard are trees stirring in the breeze, buzzing cicadas, or oars dipping in the water from an occasional, passing sampan.
Held in April of each year, the Coconut Festival is a sort of showcase of Ben Tre’s agricultural sector. At the Festival, coconuts, coconut-related handicrafts are exhibited, judged, and rated. One special treat is the coconut candy, or keo dua, a soft, sticky, and chewy candy beloved by adults and children alike.
Hike or bike the surrounding countryside around Ben Tre, through jade-green rice fields, houses with thatched, straw roofs, and locals farming the land, much as their ancestors have done for generations. Speak with the locals, take pictures of the scenery, and enjoy a leisurely, pre-packed picnic lunch.
While the original structure, built almost a century before, was demolished to make way for the more recent, stone and concrete temple, the Vien Minh Pagoda serves as the headquarters for the provincial Buddhist association. The pagoda also features a white statue of Quan Am, the female bodhisattva, or Buddhist saint, of mercy and compassion.