Called the “Gateway to Ho Chi Minh City”, Tien Giang (Tiên Giang) Province is nestled within Southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Region. The province is located between the country’s Southern Key Economic Zone and the Mekong Delta, which makes it a popular destination for both business and leisure.
On the coast, the economy relies heavily on aquatic breeding, and inland, much of the space has been devoted to fruit orchards and rice fields.
How to Get to Tien Giang
Cai Be Floating Market in Tien Giang Province, Vietnam. Photo: rjabalosIII
Sitting just south of HCMC, Tien Giang Province is not only an economic stronghold but also a hub for culture and tourism in Southern Vietnam. As a part of the Mekong Delta, the landscape in the area is mostly flat with plenty of waterways, which help the local crops thrive. Tourists have put a keen eye on Tien Giang because it has a little bit of everything to keep you entertained.
Most travelers will head directly to My Tho, the provincial capital. Only a few hours’ from other popular destinations like Cao Lanh and Vinh Long, My Tho City is a popular stop for tourists. The city is connected by road to many Southern cities including HCMC, which is roughly 70 km (44 mi) to the north of My Tho, taking about 1 and a ½ hours to reach by driving.
Centuries ago, Tien Giang Province was ruled by the Khmer Empire from Cambodia. Under the Khmer, the area remained undeveloped until the late 1600s, when Chinese settlers created a small community in what is now My Tho. With the help of immigrants, the city and province began to grow, turning Tien Giang into one of the largest commercial markets in Southern Vietnam.
Tien Giang Province’s Cai Lay Town in 1969. Photo: TommyJapan1
Further development occurred at the turn of the 17th century when local Vietnamese began to migrate from Ngu Quang into Tien Giang. Claiming a once deserted area of land, rice fields and fruit orchards were planted. With the abundance of agricultural endeavors, the province grew its wealth and new communities were created from the monetary inflow.
During the time of colonization, Tien Giang was an attractive area where the French settled. Lasting for nearly 100 years, French influence in the province can still be seen in the culture and architecture today.
- An estimated total of 1,764,185 people live in the Tien Giang Province as of 2019.
- Nicknames given to the province are “Anterior River” and “The Kingdom of Fruits”.
- Ethnicities in the Tien Giang Province include Vietnamese, Hoa, Khmer, and Cham.
My Tho, the provincial capital of Tien Giang. Photo: Daniel Berthold
Built beside and named after the My Tho River, My Tho‘s abundance of crops and position on the Mekong Delta have made it a destination for business and leisure travelers. Running through the city, the My Tho River is an important source of water for local farmers.
Tourism, which relies heavily on the local agriculture, ethnic culture, and natural landscape, is thriving in the city and many travelers will head down to My Tho from HCMC, which is just over an hour away. Visitors can tour the local orchards and rice fields or take a boat trip down the famous Mekong River.
Thoi Son and Con Phung are islands on the Mekong River that boast beautiful gardens, pagodas, and restaurants. To learn a little more about the local culture, travelers can visit Vinh Trang Pagoda, stroll through its gardens, and check out the large Budai statue.
The Mekong My Tho Hotel nestled beside the river. Photo: Khách Sạn MêKông Mỹ Tho
For travelers who are staying overnight in My Tho, there are plenty of hotel options in the city. This includes large resorts and boutique hotels, so every traveler should be able to find a place to stay that is within their budget. Ranging in price, the highest-rated hotel in My Tho are the My Tho Mekong Hotel, Cuu Long Hotel, and the Island Lodge.
Relying heavily on locally sourced ingredients, most restaurants in My Tho will serve traditional Vietnamese meals. Seafood is a particularly popular ingredient that is often cooked into hotpots, soup, or fried whole. Other popular local meals are shrimp cakes and ginger clams. The Night Market stalls, Chuong Dong Restaurant, and Hu Tieu 44 are the best places to eat in My Tho.
Famous Places in the Tien Giang Province
While My Tho is by far the most famous destination in Tien Giang Province, there are a few other places that are attractive for tourism. More rural and less populated, travelers should add the Cai Be (Cái Bè) Town, Cho Gao District, and Go Cong Dong (Gò Công Dông) District to their itinerary.
Cai Be Town
Located at the junction where the Tien River crosses three provinces, Cai Be Town has become a tourist attraction because of its floating markets. Vendors selling local goods, including seafood and fruit, gather in their boats on the river creating a unique market. Known for being somewhat chaotic and unorganized, the Cai Be Floating Market is best visited with the assistance of a local guide.
A fruit vendor in the Cai Be Floating Market. Photo by: rjabalosIII
Additionally, Cai Be is called the “Gateway to Vinh Long” because it sits just across the river from the city. Travelers can easily pass between Cai Be and Vinh Long using the My Thuan (My Thuân) Bridge.
Cho Gao District
Called the “Rice Market”, Cho Gao is a rural district just 26 minutes outside of My Tho. Derived from the nickname, visitors can learn about rice cultivation in the Mekong Delta. The riverside location also provides tourists the chance to take a boat tour of the lush canals and mighty river. Less developed than My Tho, so many visitors will choose to stay in the capital city instead.
Go Cong Dong District
Directly to the east of My Tho, Go Cong Dong District is a unique coastal community positioned where the river meets the sea. In Go Cong Dong, Go Tao Temple, though long abandoned, has become a tourist attraction. Covered in trees and open to the air, the temple is a beautiful landmark.
Just outside of the charming town, visitors can stroll along wide sandy beaches and spend a day in the sun. About 1 hour and 15 minutes from My Tho, visitors can either take a day trip or spend the night in Go Cong Dong.
Expanding on what to do in Tien Giang Province, there are various other attractions in the area that tourists will enjoy exploring. Providing a range of entertainment, visitors can explore the province’s religious sites, natural wonders, and agricultural gardens.
White Buddai statue at Vinh Trang Pagoda. Photo: xiquinhosilva
Some of the most popular attractions in Tien Giang Province are the Tan Thanh Tourist Area, Can Gio Biosphere Reserve (Cân Giò), Man Dinh Hong Flower Garden, Truc Lam Chanh Giac Zen Monastery (Trúc Lâm Chánh Giác), and the Vinh Kim Fruit Garden.
Tan Thanh Tourist Area
Situated in the Go Cong Dong District, the Tan Thanh Tourist Area is a well-known destination due to its unique black sand. Many travelers looking to explore the unique coastal area of Tien Giang Province will head to Tan Thanh. Usually, the water is shallow, so it’s easy for guests to walk out along the sand to view the bridge and unique stilt hut structures.
Can Gio Biosphere Reserve
Listed as a biosphere reserve and a protected UNESCO site, Can Gio is an important sanctuary for Vietnam’s rarest species. A mangrove forest, the reserve is home to elusive animals like the dugong (related to a manatee) and saltwater crocodiles. The mangroves are essential to the coastal habitat because they protect the land from erosion and storm surges.
Visitors can take a tour of the biosphere reserve to learn more about its ecosystem and biodiversity.
Can Gio Biosphere Area. Photo: jon crel
Man Dinh Hong Flower Garden
The Man Dinh Hong Flower Garden is one of the best places in Tien Giang where tourists can view an impressive field of flowers. Covering an area of 1.1 hectares, the field is planted throughout the year with various types of seeds including sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and cosmos.
Vinh Kim Fruit Garden
One of the most unique types of fruit grown in the Tien Giang Province is called vu sua (vú su’a). Literally translated as “breast milk”, the fruit grows on trees, and it has a milky white or sometimes pink interior. The Vinh Kim Fruit Garden is where some of the best vu sua fruit is grown. Tourists can visit the gardens and taste the fruit, which is often described as being very sweet.
Truc Lam Chanh Giac Zen Monastery
Designed to mimic the Truc Lam Monastery outside of Da Lat, the Truc Lam Chanh Giac Zen Monastery covers 50 hectares of land that has been devoted to worshipping Buddha. The monastery has 4 relics on-site and extensive gardens surrounding the large temple. Situated in a low-lying area, the monastery is protected by a dike system, which holds back the water.
Although the monastery is devoted to Buddha, all visitors are welcome to tour the grounds and temple.
Two of the biggest times of celebration in Tien Giang Province occur during the Fruit Festival and Nghing Ong Festival, which are held annually in March and April. The Fruit Festival is held in My Tho, while the Nghing Ong Festival takes place in the coastal Go Cong Dong District. During the Fruit Festival, people gather for 6 days to honor local farmers and view the year’s harvest.
Vendors set up booths to let festival attendees taste more than 30 types of fruit. Local orchards are also open for tours and there are performances in the streets to add to the upbeat vibe. In Go Cong Dong District, celebrations during the Nghing Ong Festival include offerings, songs, dances, and unique ceremonies to honor 4 of the country’s national heroes.
There are two seasons in the Tien Giang Province – wet and dry. The wet season in the Mekong Delta is very hot, humid, and rainy. Typically, the wettest and hottest months of the year are during the summertime, which makes visiting Tien Giang in June, July, or August more difficult. For better weather conditions, most tourists will book their tour of the province during the dry season.
November to May are the busiest times of year for tourism in the Tien Giang Province, so travelers should plan to book accommodations and tours early.
Riverside in My Tho. Photo: David McKelvey
An important part of the Mekong River Delta, Tien Giang Province has quickly become one of the region’s top destinations. Suitable for day trips or long weekends, the province is the ideal place to escape HCMC’s chaotic big city energy. With a plethora of tourist attractions and unique experiences, travelers are guaranteed to fall in love with the Tien Giang.
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