Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vinh Trang Pagoda & Ben Thanh Market

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The moment I’m about to reach the entrance of the Vinh Trang Pagoda, the tall standing white Buddha greeted me with a smile.

Vinh Trang Pagoda is the greatest pagoda of Tien Giang Province with many beautiful trees. It was built in 1849 in My Phong village, My Tho city. The beautiful structure features a mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor (Cambodian) architectural styles.

There are three entrances to the pagoda. The central iron gate is always closed, while the two side gates are open to visitors. The side gates are adorned with colorful porcelain mosaics featuring Buddhist folktales and natural scenery.

Inside the pagoda

The side building of the pagoda

It was already 1pm++, we headed to the local Mekong Restop restaurant to taste some variety of typical Mekong Delta dishes. The cone shape roof top from inside the restaurant

Beautiful landscape at the vicinity of the restaurant

While heading to the dining table, there were souvenirs sold on the displayed long wooden table.

One of the huts used to prepare dishes.

The famous dish here was the deep fried Elephant Ear Fish, standing straight up in the wooden holders. I have been observing which part of the fish looked like elephant ear. The waitress showed us how to eat this dish, by fish meat were rolled into rice paper with fresh mint and other type of veggies, and then dipped into the bowl of fish sauce. It’s very nice and tasty.

As for dessert besides platter of fruits, we also were served a sticky rice fried ball. It tasted a bit sweet and I liked it.

After a hearty meal, we took a 2++ hours bus ride back to Ben Thanh Market at HCMC. Ben Thanh market is one of HCMC most famous icon landmark and has been in existence since the French occupation. Food, t-shirts, cloth and material, souvenirs, kitchenware, spices, fruit, flowers, watches, jewellery offered at Ben Thanh market where you'll find everything you need under one roof. The quality of goods varies, and you must bargain bargain bargain!!! The traders will mark up the price 2-3 times what it should be. It’s very easy to find the market; it located in the center of the city, just opposite the city bus terminal and huge roundabout. Cho means market. Try to avoid going there on Friday and Saturday where the crowd is incredible. Make sure dress lightly, as it’s quite humid inside the market. They have only fans.

View at the market entrance

Vast selection of shoes




Caps & hats

And silks

General Tran Nguyen Han statue on his horse standing tall on the roundabout, opposite the market. General Tran Nguyen Han was a 15th-century warrior served under King Le Loi.

Panoramic view of Ben Thanh Market with the statue on the left hand side.

The market closes around 6.30pm and some of these traders will open their stalls next to the market to extend their business. An amazing sight, you will see them pushing their stalls through the busy streets.

Le Loi - Tran Hung Dao Roundabout is where Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao and Le Lai Streets in District 1 intersects. The traffic is coming from all directions non-stop and you have to forcefully cross the road if you have the opportunity. Most of the bikes will slow down or either horn at you, but you can still safely cross the road like what I did.

Cyclo is a 1-2 seaters tricycle taxi and still be able to find in HCMC. It is a fun and adventurous way to tour the city especially with the busy traffic. Thus, before you get on a cyclo, make sure you and the cyclo driver agree on the same price. No matter what you pay, you will always pay more than locals. It is the price you have to pay for being a foreigner. Do not worry, cyclo prices are really low. Hold on to your belongings when travelling in a cyclo as passing motorists and the like have been known to grab these as they pass.

After all the shopping and unleashed our bargaining skills at the market, it time we head for dinner at the local Chinese seafood restaurant nearby. We had like an 8 meals courses (with suckling piglet) and the total cost around USD12 per person.

After backed to hotel, my wife and I packed our luggage as we both need to travel 5 hours by bus the next day to Mui Ne.


  1. I was the most impressive reaction I had when I went to this country because I had seen the original Buddhas but never one like that because it's so tall.

  2. what tour company did you use??

  3. Nice site, I have bookmarked your site yet and I will come back again! You have a greatest site!