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Vietnam’s unusual and special products

Many special products, including flora and fauna, in Vietnam often surprise foreign visitors. Here are a few:

The insect that lives for a few hours, a famous specialty of Hanoi’s Red River

Loài côn trùng chỉ sống vài tiếng, đặc sản trứ danh trên sông Hồng

The insect called vo vo. Photo: Duong Manh Cuong (Dan Viet).


There is a strange insect in Hanoi’s Red River, which only lives a few hours. This kind of insect can be processed into unforgettable dishes. The insect is expensive, priced millions of VND per kilo.

Few people know about the insect, which is called “vo vo”, as they live on the riverbed and only rise to the surface for a few hours to molt in the early morning.

This is one of the shortest-lived species of insect as they live only for a few hours. It is a special kind of creature that gives birth only once a year. Starting from larvae, they grow to become small dragons, then molting out and dying soon after that to float on the river.

This insect can be processed into delicious dishes. Due to its scarcity, the price for vo vo is very high, up to millions of VND per kilo.

Bo guava - rare specialty of Thai Binh Province

Loài côn trùng chỉ sống vài tiếng, đặc sản trứ danh trên sông Hồng

Mr. Trong’s Bo guavas. Photo: Thai Binh Newspaper


Bo Xuyen village in Hoang Dieu ward, Thai Binh city is known as the home to the famous Bo guava of Thai Binh Province. Bo guava was once believed to disappear but visiting Hoang Dieu ward today, visitors still have the opportunity to enjoy this rare specialty. The one who is credited with preserving this "treasure" is Mr. Bui Huu Trong.

It took Trong a lot of time and effort to take care of his guava trees because if there is a change in the environment or soil, Bo guava no longer retains its original flavor. It is said that Bo guava reveals seven flavors (fragrant, sweet, creamy, crunchy, spongy, and if it's a bit green, it's tart, but if overripe, it's sweet and sour).

Mr. Trong's family annually collects 5-7 quintals of Bo guava but do not sell the fruit. The family’s Bo guavas have become a rare gift.

Ancient streblus tree with strange shape


Loài côn trùng chỉ sống vài tiếng, đặc sản trứ danh trên sông Hồng


The owner of the 130-year old streblus tree is Mr. Huynh Thanh Tuyen in Tuy Phuoc district, central province of Binh Dinh. Tuyen said that he once refused to sell the tree for a bonsai collector for a price of VND3.5 billion.

This tree is praised by bonsai collectors for having a unique shape and its canopy is very special. The tree satisfies the highest criteria set by bonsai collectors.

500-year-old ficus tree in Hanoi

Loài côn trùng chỉ sống vài tiếng, đặc sản trứ danh trên sông Hồng


This tree belongs to Mr. Pham Lan in Dong My commune, Thanh Tri district, Hanoi. The tree is considered a "hidden treasure" because it has never been included in any bonsai exhibition.

Lan said a businessman offered 100 taels of gold to buy the tree but Lan refused. According to bonsai collectors, the ficus tree looks like an ancient painting. The more one sees the tree, the more the hidden beauty can be explored, with copper color from the top of the root, and large roots crawling from the top to the bottom, intertwining to create bizarre spaces.

The 300-year-old house built in one night

Loài côn trùng chỉ sống vài tiếng, đặc sản trứ danh trên sông Hồng


Son Dong village in Hoai Duc district, Hanoi is famous for making statues and worshiping objects. This land is also known for an old house that was built within one night. The house was created in 1676 and after 300 years, it is still nearly like the original.

Mr. Nguyen Viet Vy, 79, and his family live in this house. He said that the house belonged to a senior mandarin of the Le Dynasty, minister Nguyen Viet Thu (1644-1692).

Vy is the 11th descendant of the family who is assigned to look after the house. The history of the old house is not recorded in books, but for many generations, people in Son Dong village have talked about the house origin via word of mouth.

In 1675, under King Le Hy Tong’s reign, Admiral Nguyen Cong Trieu used court elephants to pull construction materials to build temples and roads for the people. Unfortunately, the elephant became exhausted and died. According to the old law, the admiral had to return by a gold-made elephant of similar weight or be subject to the death penalty.

The Admiral could not afford to make that golden elephant. The mandarin who was assigned to judge the case was minister Nguyen Viet Thu, who tried to defend the Admiral. Thanks to the minister’s effort, the admiral was removed from all guilt. The admiral wanted to do something to give thanks to the minister. However, all gifts were refused by the minister. Finally, the admiral decided to build a house as a gift for the minister as his house was too old.

It was difficult to refuse, so the minister offered a condition: If the admiral could build the house in just one night, he would receive it. And the admiral satisfied that condition: building a house of five compartments, 18.5m length and 7.2m width, within one night in 1676.

The house was overhauled twice in 1975 and 1995. Vy sai the house is not only the pride of the family but also of Son Dong villagers.

Compiled by Hanh Nguyen


A specialty from Mekong Delta

A specialty from Mekong Delta

“Suong” noodle soup is served with shrimp paste, pork hocks and herbs. The specialty from the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh is made with a secret recipe broth that will indulge your taste buds.

Story of nhut, a specialty of Nghe An

Story of nhut, a specialty of Nghe An

For northerners, fermented pickles are part and parcel of daily meals, but for locals in central provinces, particularly Nghe An, nhút (pickle made from young jackfruit) is a real specialty.



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