By Phuoc Tuan   January 6, 2024 | 05:00 pm GMT+7

Visit historical sites, taste local cuisine like pomelo salad, and discover Dong Nai’s cultural and natural blend in just 48 hours.

Dong Nai is located approximately 91 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City and is renowned as an industrial powerhouse, but it is also a cultural mecca with beautiful scenery including forests, waterfalls, and lakes.

A local tour guide named Ngoc Tram suggests a 48-hour trip.

DAY 1

Begin your journey from Ho Chi Minh City, a mere 30-minute drive along the Hanoi Highway and National Highway 1K, to reach the capital of Dong Nai Province, Bien Hoa City, situated along the Dong Nai River.

Cù lao Phố nằm giữa trung tâm TP Biên Hòa. Ảnh: Phước Tuấn
Cu Lao Pho Island in the central part of Bien Hoa City. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan

For breakfast, try local favorites like bun bo (beef noodle soup) at Sen Vang, hu tieu (pork and prawn clear noodle soup) at Phuoc Nguyen, pho at Tu Hai, banh canh (thick noodle soup) at Xuan Hoa, or bun moc (pork ball noodle soup) at Ho Nai, priced from VND30,000 to VND60,000 ($1.20 to $2.50).

Alternatively, enjoy breakfast and coffee by the Dong Nai River on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, where you might catch fishermen casting nets under Ghenh Bridge.

Tourists can start exploring Cu Lao Pho Island in the center of Bien Hoa City, which houses historical relics like the Nguyen Huu Canh Temple, Ong Pagoda, and Dai Giac Pagoda, each with a history of over 300 years. These sites are linked to the region’s historical beginnings.

Next on the journey is the Tran Bien Temple of Literature, recognized as the oldest Confucian temple in Dong Nai Province.

Following that, there’s the Buu Long Tourist Area, often referred to as “Ha Long Bay on land.” Lastly, discover the historic Buu Phong Pagoda, with a history spanning nearly 400 years.

Move upstream to Dong Nai, and explore Tan Trieu Island in Tan Binh Commune, Vinh Cuu District, located approximately 8 kilometers from Bien Hoa. Tan Trieu is known for its pomelo village.

At Tan Trieu Island, there are numerous riverside restaurants where visitors can opt for lunch. Additionally, visitors have the option to select a leaf hut situated beside Tan Trieu Canal. This allows them to enjoy lunch in a picturesque setting and explore the nearby pomelo garden.

Gỏi bưởi ở làng bưởi Tân Triều. Ảnh: Đăng Ninh
A serving of pomelo salad includes pomelo fruit combined with prawns, accompanied by prawn crackers. Photo by VnExpress/Dang Ninh

Tourist favorites include fried sticky rice, pomelo salad, and steamed chicken with pomelo. Spices impart a symphony of sweet, sour, and salty notes to the pomelo salad, which also includes roasted peanuts, coriander, river shrimp, pork belly, and ripe pomelo.

For the fried sticky rice, first pound the rice. Then, stuff it with sugar and green beans. Finally, fry it.

According to Tram, another place to have lunch is Tan Mai rafting village. They have fish salad and goby hotpot with Dong Nai River freshwater prawns.

Lunch on Tan Trieu Island is followed by an exploration of the Dong Nai Cultural Nature Reserve. This reserve includes the Ma Da Forest area known as War Zone D, which was a military base during the Vietnam War. We suggest going for a bike ride or taking a stroll under the trees.

Among the reserve’s noteworthy sites are the leaders’ office building, which features a leaf-covered roof, a network of tunnels, and an underground vent stove made of bamboo. Hoang Cam was a stove that was used to disperse cooking smoke so that enemy planes couldn’t see where the soldiers were stationed.

Artifacts from the Central Committee of the Central Office for South Vietnam and the Eastern Region Party Committee are important historical locations on the battlefield of War Zone D. These artifacts testify to the two eras of defiance against the American and French forces.

Prices range from VND800,000 to VND1.8 million ($32 to $74) per person, including dinner and a camping BBQ, for visitors who want to camp overnight by Tri An Lake.

Another option is to hire a canoe and go to the central lake island of O Dong Truong for VND150,000. You can rent electric cars and bicycles to explore the island at your leisure.

Price range for a 3-star standard room for those who prefer to stay the night is VND900,000 to VND1.5 million. In the midst of refreshing forests and lakes, guests of this accommodation can relax and enjoy nature.

Du khách vui chơi bên một con suối ở nhà vườn TP Long Khánh. Ảnh: Lò Văn Hợp
Visitors cross a stream at a garden house in Long Khanh City, carrying bunches of rambutan, a Dong Nai specialty. Photo by VnExpress/Lo Van Hop

DAY 2

Tourists can wake up to the beauty of a lakeside sunrise in crisp weather. The campsite provides a pot of chicken porridge as an alternative to the typical city breakfast. Alternatively, visitors have the option to venture into Vinh An Town for a taste of snakehead fish thick noodle soup banh canh ca loc.

After breakfast, tourists drive north to explore fruit gardens in Long Khanh City, known for its green development and fruit gardens supporting eco-tourism. Traveling to Xuan Lap Commune in Binh Loc during the fruit season allows visitors to pick and enjoy a variety of fruits like rambutan, mangosteen, durian, jackfruit, and guava.

In Long Khanh, attractions include the Cu Thach Hang Gon Tomb , Suoi Tre Park, villas, and sites reflecting the leisurely lifestyle of the Southeast region. The Cu Thach Hang Gon Tomb stands out as an exceptional relic, showcasing the artistic and technical prowess of ancient Vietnamese people.

Between November and March provides a scenic journey through vibrant rubber forests with leaves changing to bright red hues, especially in locations like Hang Gon, Suoi Tre, and Xuan Que.

Cao su mùa thay lá. Ảnh: Lò Văn Hợp
The winter and spring seasons in Long Khanh City are marked by the changing color of rubber tree leaves. Photo by VnExpress/Lo Van Hop

Around noon, visitors can enjoy lunch at Nui Le Lake in Gia Ray Town, Xuan Loc District, and then explore Chua Chan Mountain.

They can reach the mountain either by cable car or on foot, with round-trip cable car tickets priced at VND160,000 ($6), a convenient option for those with limited time.

Climbing actively takes approximately 2 hours. Chua Chan Mountain, the second-highest peak in the southeast region after Ba Den Mountain. The mountain has an arc shape with three peaks, covering 1,400 hectares. It serves as the source for four streams, maintaining cool water year-round.

On Chua Chan Mountain, notable features include the famous banyan tree with three roots, along with Buu Quang Pagoda, Lam Son Pagoda, Linh Son Pagoda, the former vacation house of the French governor, and King Bao Dai’s tea garden, forming a picturesque complex.

If visitors choose to travel by road, they can indulge in specialty dishes like banh xeo – crispy pancakes and cassava cakes, sold by locals at reasonable prices.

In the afternoon, tourists return to Ho Chi Minh City via Phan Thiet – Dau Giay and Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay expressways, taking about an hour.

For alternatives, those heading to Chua Chan Mountain can explore additional attractions like Ba Chong Rock in Dinh Quan District, Cat Tien National Park, and the largest bat cave in Southeast Asia bordering Dinh Quan and Tan Phu districts.

Cat Tien National Park offers sights such as the sky waterfall, opportunities to engage in wildlife observation during the nighttime, and explore Ta Lai Longhouse, the first eco-tourism project by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Vietnam. Located in Ta Lai Commune, Tan Phu District, the house is made of wood and bamboo, with a leafy roof and wooden floor, mimicking homes of the Chau Ma ethnic group.

Other suitable tourist areas include mango garden in Bien Hoa City, Giang Dien Waterfall in Trang Bom District, Mo River in Dinh Quan District, and the Golden Scorpion Ecological Tourist Area in Nhon Trach District. Those interested in exploring Bien Hoa at night can stroll around Bien Hung night market and Nguyen Van Tri riverbank park.

Món xôi chiên phồng ăn cùng gà nướng. Ảnh: Đăng Ninh
Fried sticky rice is often eaten with grilled chicken. Photo by VnExpress/Dang Ninh

Source: vnExpress