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15 May 2021

Viet Nam - Vung Tau - 4 attractions and Banh Khot - episode 2

Hello Folks! 

May in full scale, which in Southeast Asia is manifested by increased rainfall. Fortunately, it's usually an hour of rain, after which there is no trace in 30 minutes. And the air is clean and fresh.

So it is not an obstacle to continue visiting Vung Tau. As promised last week, today 4 attractions and culinary experiences.

Let`s fun begins.

The first attraction is a hill with a statue of Jesus, which is led by stone steps. The statue is 35 meters high, its arms are stretched 17 meters, and the hill itself is 170 meters high. In order to be able to admire the beautiful panorama of the city, which appears just after reaching the top of the hill, you have to climb 850 steps, and for those willing to climb to the top of the figure, another 150. Total 1000. At 34 degrees Celsius, there is a challenge.

Fortunately, both on the way and on the hill itself, there are small cafes where you can drink water or other cooling drinks and rest a bit after climbing.

The statue was funded by the local Christian community and is an active place of religious worship. The figure of Jesus is visible from many places in the city and from the sea. At night, nicely lit, it is an excellent landmark. Due to its location on the hill, it is a good vantage point, so I recommend it. If we take the Flag Square, which is the focal point of the promenade, as a reference point, the walk to the hill entrance will not take you more than 15 minutes. Follow the sun and you will surely hit the spot.



Walk up the hills

The second attraction that I deem worth visiting is the local lighthouse.

Located on a hill opposite the statue of Jesus, more to the northwest, it attracts the inhabitants of the valleys with its slender white shape.

It is the westernmost attraction of Vung Tau which can be reached by taxi, scooter or on foot. Nevertheless, climbing 180 meters along a winding street is a bit demanding. Take that into account. Staying upstairs is a pleasure. Sea breeze, beautiful views and bars where you can relax.

This lighthouse belongs to the Vietnamese coastal lighthouse system. It is still open, but you cannot enter the lighthouse itself. This hill, like the previous ones, offers beautiful views of the surroundings. The sea and the city. The moments spent upstairs are time to rest. You can drink one of the freshly squeezed juices, for example orange, and be sure to try sugarcane juice mixed with passion fruit. Besides, there is an opportunity to take some interesting panoramic shots.



White House & Temples

The third tract that is worth visiting is the so-called White House - former residence of the French colonizers. It is a historical museum where you can see, for example, cannons from the war against the French invaders for control of this area and learn about the history of these fights.

The first records of the settlement of this peninsula date back to the sixteenth century, when it is said that the surrounding hills were taken over by Malaysian pirates who were a threat to ships passing through this part of the South Vietnamese Sea. The very name Vung Tau translates to "anchorage". It is true that Malaysian pirates were chased from this area with a significant participation of the French army, on the other hand, the French took over this area for many years. They used their base at Vung Tau as a starting point into Vie Nam when it was a French colony.

It was the visited White House that was the seat of the provincial governor and the army command center.


The fourth attraction that I recommend is visits to Buddhist temples. Two of them are very interesting. One, Pho Da Quan Am Bo Tat Tu, located right on the seashore. On its premises, for example, you can buy free birds for VND 10,000 per one. It is also worth seeing the 40-meter statue of Guan Yin. The second, Chua Ba with Mieu Hon Ba, is located on a small island in front of the beach and the hill with the statue of Jesus. Access to it is possible through the shallows and only at low tide. This islet has no connection with the mainland and there is no other road to it. By the way, you can catch some crabs, oysters and sea snails. After all, Vung Tau is a paradise for seafood gourmets.

By the way, walking from the city center to the statue of Jesus, you will pass the park on the right, where there is currently an exhibition of emoticons known to you from the keyboards of your smartphones. An interesting thing worth a few photos and a moment of smile on your face when you see dozens of people taking pics with emoticons.

Vung Tau is still the largest and most thriving oil processing center in Viet Nam. It is an important part of the business that provides income to the city's coffers, while being a significant item in the budget of Viet Nam. While walking along the promenade, you will see many ships entering the port. In addition to large container ships, these will also be tankers transporting the extracted crude oil.


Culinary sensations

Oh please, it is already evening.

Evenings are, of course, dinner time. And as for dinner at Vung Tau, it is necessarily seafood.

Oysters, squids, snails and countless species of fish. A gourmet feast.

Everyone will find something for themselves, anywhere in the city. I will not write much.

Being in Vung Tau, it is impossible not to taste all kinds of seafood. Every street, every square has dozens of large and small bars and restaurants. Choose. Bon appetite!

But seafood is not the only culinary highlight of Vung Tau.

During lunch, you must try two products that are known throughout Viet Nam and are the icon of Vung Tau as a city.

The first of these dishes, Banh Khot, are pancakes fried in deep oil with the addition of a mixture of spices and, depending on the version, shrimps or squid.

They are served with vegetables such as cabbage, nettle leaves and mint leaves. The pancake is wrapped in large cabbage leaves, adding the remaining vegetables and the addition is green papaya salad and sugar cane juice. Delicious.


Banh Khot!

Restaurants that serve these pancakes have been making them in the same way for years. The process is extremely spectacular - you can see it in the attached videos.

I recommend it with all my heart. They taste delicious and are a great dish when it comes to lunch time.

Do you have any culinary skills and would you like make the Banh Khot?

Here is the recipe ("party quantity"):

  • 500 grams of rice flour and 100 grams of glutinous rice flour
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1  1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of hulled mung bean (they can be bought pre-hulled)
  • 10 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 clove of minced fresh chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 3 spring onions, chopped (discard the white part)
  • springs of coriander, chopped, for garnish
  • fresh Vietnamese mint, chopped, for garnish
  • mustard leaves, for wrappping
  • romaine lettuce leaves, for wrapping
  • fresh perilla and basil herb, for wrapping
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


Let's Go!

  • In a bowl mix the two flours and add the coconut milk  until it is a smooth paste.
  • Add smaller amounts of the water at a time until fully mixed, then the turmeric, and half of the chopped green onion and salt.
  • Wash and chop shrimp into smaller pieces and sauté quickly in a small amount of vegetable oil with with the chopped garlic and the rest of the spring onion and a dash of salt. Set aside.
  • Pour a small amount of vegetable oil into each indentation of the banh khot pan and heat until beginning to sizzle.
  • Add batter into each indentation until approximately 2/3 full, cover and cook for about 3- 5 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and add one or two pieces of shrimp and a tablespoon of mung bean to each of the indentations, then re-cover.
  • Cooking complete when the sides of the pancakes are crispy and batter has fully set. (Usually an additional 3-5 minutes, depending on heat of the stove.)
  • Top each of the pancakes with some chopped coriander and mint and, if you have decided to make it, the dried shrimp topping.




Bone appetite!

Banh Bong Lan!

The second icon of Vung Tau are biscuit cookies stuffed with salted cheese, yolk or jam. The uniqueness of these cookies is the fact that they are prepared over an open fire.

While in the confectionery, you can see through the glass how they are produced.

They are sold in huge numbers in iconic yellow boxes and are one of the so-called "stay gifts" in Vung Tau.

They look a bit like waffles to me. Besides, they actually taste very good. And I succumbed to the frenzy of shopping and purchased eight boxes.

This business is solely owned by one family that has been following the tradition of baking these cookies since 1978.


We cast mooring lines...

Fed, stocked with cookies, happy with my stay, a bit sunburned, I return to Ho Chi Minh City.

Again, by hydrofoil.

A trip to Vung Tau is a really interesting escape from everyday life. It's a moment to relax, eat delicious seafood, take a walk on the beach, visit some interesting places. By the way, you can learn a bit about the history of this region.

In the pre-pandemic times, all streets around the beaches, especially the one that runs along the entire coast, were full of loud bars, discos and karaoke clubs. Young people from rich Sai Gon homes came to Vung Tau for a night or two to go crazy. A bit like the famous "young wolves" in Szczecin, my home city in Poland. Today, most of these places are closed, but still cooling down with delicious local beer or eating great squid or fish combined with an evening walk on the beach is a magnet that attracts Sai Gon residents every weekend.

If you can travel and you are going to Viet Nam, to Ho Chi Minh City, I encourage you to book two days during your stay in the city and just jump to the beach with a hydrofoil. Take a break from the heat of the city and visit the attractions described above.


Time to pick up the anchor and head back to Sai Gon. 

Ahoj! See you soon  “anchorage”… 


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