5 excuses to head 'west' this summer

By Ma Lum   August 24, 2016 | 03:30 pm PT
If you fancy cricket and mouse for dinner, then maybe this river-riddled region is the place for you.
Can Tho Bridge in the west. Photo from Instagram/@ngocle1307

Can Tho Bridge in the "west". Photo from Instagram/@ngocle1307

Mien Tay (literally the west in English) is the western part of southern Vietnam, lying in the lower reaches of the Mekong Delta with multiple rivers and tributaries bringing fertile sediment to the land. VnExpress gives you five reasons why you should take a trip here.

Easy to reach

From Saigon, the hub at the heart of southern Vietnam, a stream of coaches shuttle between the city and Mien Tay, available around the clock. The roads that connect them are also favored by riders who prefer a more hands-on experience.

Abundant to explore

Each province in ‘Mien Tay’ has its own individual attractions. Fruit orchards are an essential part of the eco-tourism model here, with tours escorting visitors through the orchards where they can pick fruit and gorge themselves straight from the trees. Areas dedicated to ecotourism such as the Gao Giong forest, where tens of thousands of white storks reside, or historic sites like the swamp in Xeo Quyt, where relics of the Vietnam War can be found, offer alternatives from the orchards.

Friendly to socialize

The locals of Mien Tay are known for being hospitable and easy-going. Guests should prepare to be invited in for coconut juice, grilled fish or just a quick rest. The floating market at Cai Rang where women, both young and old, sell all manner of produce from breakfast to fruit, is a lasting image of the area.

Taste the exotic

Adding color to tours of the region is the exotic, bizarre gastronomy that is found here. Take time to taste field mice in Sa Dec, sauteed crickets with garlic and chili in Ben Tre, fried snakes and tempura grasshoppers. Other dishes such as hot pot, salad and noodles found elsewhere take on a more local trend here.

Light on the pocket

Delicious and cheap are the words to sum up the experience in Mien Tay. “Cafe au lait” (coffee with condensed milk and ice, known in Vietnam as ‘ca phe sua da’) comes at VND6,000 ($0.25), and fish noodles can be found for VND10,000 ($0.4). Overcharging basically doesn't exist here.

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