Tra Que Vegetable Village, destination of choice in Hoi An
- on Aug 14, 2019       By: Bảo Ngọc
Only three km from the old Hoi An city we come across a charming little village called Tra Que which is famous for the organic cultivation of vegetables and herbs in Quang Nam. It is almost the only place in the province where farmers still practice ancestral farming techniques, that is to say without mechanization or chemical fertilizers.
Nestled on the banks of the De Vong River, the main activity in this 300-year-old village are fishing which after a certain time did not pay well for the lives of its natives. To remedy this they had to try other activities and gardening was the most promising. They took advantage of the De Vong algae to make themselves a natural fertilizer for all crops. Since then, a farming occupation using entirely organic methods was created and the residents of Tra Que are still using these techniques today. These methods are not easy to follow step by step. However, they continue to gain status thanks to the enthusiasm of the farmers as well as tourists from all around the world.
Attracted not only by the qualities of the perfectly clean soups of Tra Que, the visitors also voice their amazement for the cultural traditions by coming more and more.
The village was originally named Nhu Que (Nhu refers to all the vegetables and herbs, Que means the scent of camellia). In the early 18th century during a cruise on the De Vong River the Nguyen king heard about local special vegetables. He then tried the vegetable dishes, one of which had the subtle taste of cinnamon and the scent of camellia and he was very impressed. He changed the name Nhu Que to Tra Que (Camellia Cinnamon).
According to an old local, Tra Que herbs are distinguished by very small leaves that only need about twenty days between sowing and harvesting.
The 40 hectares of Tra Que fields are shared by almost twenty kinds of vegetables and aromatic herbs with exceptional quality including basil, aquatic mint and perilla. Once combined we will have five different tastes on the same plate: spicy, sour, sweet, bitter and acidic. According to locals, these famous herbs owe their flavor to the quality of the soil which was fertilized mainly with organic fertilizers made by themselves. These are the fields with many farming secrets and the passion of this organic gardening has been transmitted from generation to generation.
In a peaceful setting of a typical Vietnamese countryside visitors accompanied by friendly hosts will be introduced to the traditional farming techniques using rudimentary tools.
The dish Tam Huu (spring rolls)
Following each stages of gardening care such as raking, sowing, watering and gathering, the visitors share with the hosts in a friendly atmosphere meals that are cooked with those vegetables and also are invited to discover the authentic flavors of Hoi An.
Quang Nam specialties like cao lầu (Hoi An noodle), mỳ Quảng (Quang noodle), bánh vạc (white rose), Tam Hữu (spring rolls), bánh xèo (traditional pancakes) should not be eaten without Tra Que vegetables.
For photography lovers, be it dawn (between 5h-7h30) or dusk (between 15h30-18h) the surrounding landscape of Tra Que represents a sumptuous banquet for imagination and creativity. To fully appreciate the idyllic and scenic setting of Tra Que hiking and biking are the most recommended activities.
A shot of French photographer Réhahn
Location: Tra Que village, Cam Ha commune, Hoi An.
How to get there?
- From Da Nang, take the Son Tra - Dien Ngoc road towards Hoi An to reach the crossroads to the old Hoi An city after 20km, go for another 500m to access the entrance of Tra Que village.
- From Hoi An, take the Hai Ba Trung road towards Da Nang, go straight on to reach Tra Que after 3km.
Remember, only two wheeled vehicles are passable inside the village.
Annually, the Cau Bong festival is held in Tra Que on the 7th of January (lunar calendar) to honor the founders of the village and hope for a lenient season and fruitful harvest.