Mentioning to My Tho (Tien Giang), most people think about a rural area with big rivers, green fields and trees with many fruits. Being the gate to the Southwestern Vietnam, My Tho is the first destination welcoming tourists to the Mekong River Delta.
For tourists planning to visiting this site for the first time, this blog post is definitely and useful guide for them to fully discover the land, as well as try special food.
Where to visit in My Tho
Vinh Trang temple
This temple is the biggest Buddhist construction in My Tho with the harmonic Asian – European architecture. Entering the temple, I was overwhelmed by plenty of precious statues of Buddha.
An Khanh tourism region
Being a famous tourist area of fruit garden, this site brought me numerous interesting experience related to water, such as sitting on a boat, going through coconut trees to enjoy fresh air and learning more about iconic things in the Southwest. Besides, I had a chance to try special tropical fruits while listening to melodious folk music. It was so amazing!
Thoi Son island
Being one of the four biggest islands in the Southwest, Thoi Son is opulent land with endless rivers and orchards full of ripe fruits. After the tourism region was completed, the island welcomes a lot of travelers to experience interesting activities such as discovering the nature by boat, learning about the daily life of the local, visiting the orchards and enjoy the fruits.
I have experienced a day as a true fisherman. That day, I had to wake up early in the morning to collect seafood from fishing boats, then use a motorbike to bring it to the market for sale. The market was so crowded and noisy! When coming back home, a table full of tasty dishes was waiting for me. Although it was not in a luxurious restaurant, I felt like I was eating food made by a Michelin chef. Then, I took a nap to boost my energy for another difficult but interesting work: going fishing. For the first time ever, I had to learn about all the names of the fish to distinguish whether the fish is edible or not. Although I had to stayed up all night, I was so excited when we caught tons of fish, which meant we could sell for a lot of money!
Dong Tam snake farm
Another brand-new spot in My Tho for tourists who are keen on the cold-blood snakes. The fam next to the Tien river is called the kingdom of snake. Not only is it a good place to learn about wild animals, this farm is a center to grow, study, produce medicines and treat patients bitten by snake.
The staff here was so enthusiastic to teach me about the snakes, but her English was not that fluent. However, I had a chance to witness different kinds of snakes and learn what to do with snake bite before transferring patients to hospital.
Tan Thanh beach
The beach belongs to Go Cong Dong commune, about 50km from My Tho city. Since the black sand bank is mixed with mud, it is not suitable for swimming. However, this is the most beautiful beach with black sand in Vietnam with the velvet-like sand.
Cai Be floating market
The market is located on Tan Phong island – the border of 3 provinces including Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. I have experienced the work of a seller here – to drive the boat full of goods going through other boats and trade with buyers.
Unlike buying goods in a supermarket, here, I had to bargain with buyers to make profits as much as possible. Besides, I could exchange my goods for anything I wanted from other sellers.
Cai Be fruit garden
Due to the orchards of various well-known fruits such as sweet mango, grapefruit, longan, king orange, and plum, the garden is considered as the biggest fruit garden in the Mekong River Delta. As it attracts a huge number of visitors, it becomes a tourism destination as well.
Coming to the garden, beside admiring luxuriant fruit trees, I tried the fresh fruits right inside the orchard. The king orange surprised me the most. My favorite is orange, but I have never tried big oranges with unexpected flavor and a lot of juice like that. Compared to other fruit gardens in the Southwest, Cai Be has the most abundant fruits all year round, so no matter when you visit, you can try different fruits.
What to eat in My Tho
My Tho rice noodle
This is a must-try dish when you visit the small city lying next to the Tien river. Consisting of small and tough noodles, an appreciate amount of pork, ribs, shrimps, broth and spring onion and sprouts on the top, the bowl of noodles brought me a great feeling. The taste was like pho, but the addition of seafood make my stomach feel full for longer.
The chef told me that what made the noodles special was that the noodle was made from the local rice, so it is crunchier, stickier, and chewier than other kinds of noodles. To make the noodles soft and tough enough to eat, all you need is to pour hot water on it. My Tho rice noodles can be eaten at any time in a day, from breakfast, lunch, to dinner and suitable for people at any age.
My Tho broken rice
This dish is often served at lunch. Since the taste is so delicious that the local are hard to get rid of, so it becomes the daily food here. The most delicious broken rice is served in Cau Doi small restaurant.
A set of broken rice includes an omelet egg, pork ribs, and shredded pork skin. Ribs are well marinated, so the finish product is savory and tasty. The fish sauce is made with private recipe, so it was totally delicious. When I passed by the restaurant, I was seduced by the aroma of the meat so much that my stomach felt hungry immediately and I could not ignore it any more. The dish is ten times tastier when you try it with the fish sauce.
Banh beo at Hang Bong market
At late noon, street hawkers start their work by arranging plastic chairs on pavement to serve this food. After work or school, a lot of officers and students eat banh beo as a light meal to fill their empty stomachs and as a time to share their stories with friends. You can choose banh beo with salty filling or sweet filling. The salty filling includes mung bean, shredded pork skin, diced fried-bread and fried onion. The mixture creates good taste, so customers often order this kind.
Goi Da rice noodle
An original bowl of goi da rice noodle consists of rice noodle, fresh shrimps, rib tips, chopped bacon, sprouts, broth, sauce and vegetable on the top. This dish is simple but it leaves diners a mixed feeling. After eating up the bowl, I recognized that in Vietnam, there are numerous dishes with the main ingredient is rice noodles, but each type has its own taste. I wondered why the Vietnamese could do it.
Porridge with snakehead and coriander
This is the most specialty in the Southwest. Snakeheads with savory and tough meat are processed, removed bones, marinated and steamed. Rice is stewed in a long time to become porridge.
An original bowl of porridge includes cilantro, sprouts, pepper, peanuts, mushrooms, coriander and fish. Since coriander is quite bitter, so not everyone can eat it. If you are familiar with the flavor, you are totally into it. At first, the bitter savor was full in my mouth, but when I swallowed, it magically turned to sweetness. When eating porridge with snakehead, you should eat coriander to feel the true savor of the dish.
Banana mixed with coconut
This is one of the most unique food in Tien Giang. Ground banana and coconut are mixed together, then served with fish sauce and raw vegetables. Unripe bananas are soaked in water until it releases all the latex before boiled. Then let it cool, mixed with coconut, adding some sugar and salt until the mixture is dense, then served into a plate. At first, I had some troubles when rolling it with rice paper and raw vegetables. But as I dipped it into fish sauce with ground chili and garlic and tried one bite, I felt a strange savor that I have never tried before.
Dried rice noodles
During my trip to My Tho, I had some time to visit a factory manufacturing traditional rice noodles. I witnessed the progress of making rice noodles and also did some simple stages. Then, the chef made me a bowl of rice noodles with broth made from ground pork, pig intestines, and pig bones, so it is sweet and tasty. The dish is served with sprouts, fried onion, lemon, chili, pepper, and soy sauce. Another taste of rice noodles! So weird!
Banh gia at Giong market
The very last food I tried in My Tho was banh gia at Giong market. To make banh gia, the maker needs to be very carefully from choosing ingredients to produce it. Banh gia includes ground sprouts, pork, shrimps, and peanuts. Nothing better than trying the hot banh gia with raw vegetables and fish sauce after a long day walking through many places.