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Trip to hidden gem in ethnic Khmer city in Mekong Delta

Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 14:11 GMT+7
Trip to hidden gem in ethnic Khmer city in Mekong Delta
A view of the Ba Om pond, a famous landmark in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Photo: Gia Tien / Tuoi Tre

Once poorly connected to the rest of Vietnam, Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta is now known by more tourists thanks to the construction of bridges linking it to surrounding provinces over the past decade.

Five years ago, Tra Vinh was not as famous as other tourist cities such as Vung Tau or Da Lat, but it is slowly securing a spot on the map because of its many attractive features, such as a peaceful way of life, fresh air, as well as many places offering cheap and delicious eats.

Tra Vinh has never been a well-known tourist attraction in Vietnam, but tourists that visit will be greeted by hospitable people and plenty of relaxing natural spots. 

Visitors to Tra Vinh can see the landmark Ba Om pond and bask in the fresh air provided by the many trees that line the city.

The provincial government is deeply interested in the environment and living green.

Recently, a provincial stadium was transformed into a central park to offer residents a place to exercise and host cultural activities.

A street is under the shade of green trees in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Photo: Gia Tien / Tuoi Tre

A street is under the shade of green trees in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Photo: Gia Tien / Tuoi Tre

The people of Tra Vinh are known for being gentle and orderly.

It is not a rare sight to see someone waiting alone at a red light for their turn to cross, even in the rain with no cross traffic.

Tra Vinh’s cuisine is influenced by Vietnamese, Khmer, and Chinese culinary cultures.

It is known for many tasty dishes such as Ben Co noodles and Tra Cuon 'banh tet' (Vietnamese cylindrical glutinous rice cake), but the signature delicacy is Tra Vinh-style 'bun nuoc leo,' a traditional noodle soup cooked with the Bo Hoc fermented fish paste unique to the Khmer people.

Unlike noodle soups in other regions with plenty of meat, the noodle soup of Tra Vinh is very simple with only noodles and vegetables.

It is the distinctive strong flavor of the Bo Hoc paste that makes all the difference.

The dish is not only delicious but also cheap with each bowl costing only about VND8,000-VND10,000 (US$0.34-0.43).

Two servings of Tra Vinh-style 'bun nuoc leo' (noodle soup) and side dishes are served at an eatery in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Van Thanh / Tuoi Tre

Two servings of Tra Vinh-style 'bun nuoc leo' (noodle soup) and side dishes are shown at an eatery in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Van Thanh / Tuoi Tre

Taking the Dai Ngai – Cu Lao Dung ferry from Cau Quan Town in Tieu Can District gives a scenic view as the ship sails along the banks of Tien and Hau Rivers.

Drifting along the south of the Hau River on the ferry, visitors are treated to a view of the Tran De fishing village and Vinh Chau Town with large swathes of purple shallot farms.

Since the construction of Co Chien Bridge — which connects Mo Cay Nam District in Ben Tre Province with Cang Long District in Tra Vinh — the latter province has been busier.

Many spacious land plots around the bridge area are getting ready to be built into homestays.

Tourists often come here to catch snakehead fish and then grill them or enjoy a Vietnamese chicken salad.

These homestays also serve up a homemade drink of coconut and 'sticky rice' spirit, a perfect companion to the sad melodies of Co Chien music, a signature style of the south of Vietnam.

If visitors are feeling extra relaxed, grab a chair or a hammock for a nap.

Big trees are seen at the Ba Om pond in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Photo: Gia Tien / Tuoi Tre

Big trees are seen near the Ba Om pond in Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Photo: Gia Tien / Tuoi Tre

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Van Thanh / Tuoi Tre News

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