30 Jul 2008

by Marc Passion


The snake in Vietnamese culture is considered a mystical creature with healing properties. Eating the still beating heart and drinking its warm blood mixed with local vodka has been tradition for generations. The practice is considered especially good for bad backs; great news for travelers carrying heavy backpacks.

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Where: Vinh Long, Vietnam
Cost: 1,000,000Dong


Passion’s Passage
Vinh Long is part of the sprawling Mekong Delta and is easy to get to via bus from Ho Chi Minh or, if you’re coming from Cambodia, via slow boat. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but Marc Passion normally stays in the reasonably priced Cuu Long A Hotel No 3, 15 Road.

The restaurant The Phong An May Lanh restaurant in Vinh Long overlooks one of the Mekong tributaries and serves snake, bat, pigeon, turtle and a host of other creatures all alive when you pick your dinner. The restaurant opens most nights, but try and find out from your hotel in advance if you’ve only got a day in this small town.

Picking dinner
All of the animals on the menu are caged in the lower restaurant where you can have a look at your prospective dinner before placing the order. If you go for the snake be prepared for a knowing grin from the staff and a few minutes of nervous tension while the snake is noosed and killed in front of you.

The first course is the raw snake heart and a shot of snake blood mixed with vodka that soon congeals and leaves a lasting bloody after-taste. While you’re doing this, the rest of the snake is cooked and brought out in quick stages. Fried backbone, snake skin salad and a soup made with the tough meat and innards means nothing is wasted.

Was it worth it?
1,000,000 Dong is a relative fortune compared to a standard Vietnamese meal costing 60,000 Dong, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will probably be just the once after you’ve tasted it. There’s every chance you’ll still be hungry afterwards, but there are plenty of other places where you’ll be able to dine cheaply.

Other activities in Vinh Long
There are regular boat tours around the floating markets and an interesting nightclub where you’ll hear a techno version of ‘Happy Birthday’ most nights.

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  • Nomadic Samuel

    That’s an awesome video!  I’ve yet to try snake blood but I’ll give it a go the next time I’m in Vietnam.  

  • Marc Passion

    Around $48…I actually just removed the conversions until I managed to get an update.

  • Marc Passion

    Definitely mate you’ve got to try it. I’d say the whole experience is what it’s about and not just the drinking of the snake blood.

  • Graciel Cecilio

    Wow. I can’t believe you were able to hold down the heart. Intense.

  • Flipnomad

    ugh! im not sure if i could drink snake blood… :-)

  • Marc Passion

    Sure you could…just close your eyes and boom! Down the hatch!

  • Marc Passion

    And my mate took all the water away so I had to wash it down with the snake blood vodka!

  • Jim McIntosh

    Yeah, I realise this is culture, but attitudes need to change. I guess taking rhino horn supplements will be on your list too.

  • Marc Passion

    Jim, thank you for your comment.

    Snake blood has been used for all sorts of remedies since over a 1000BC in China thus flowing through to other Asian countries. When I travel, I intend to dive in as far as I can into my new found culture. This does not mean i am out to kill every animal just for my pleasure but I will give everything a go if it is a tradition. My videos and information may offend people at times, just like any other blog.

  • Maria Alexandra Laborde

    *makes Charlie Sheen voice* Snake blood? Winning. If it were TIGER blood? DOUBLE WINNINGGGG!!


  • Marc Passion

    Charlie Sheen?

  • The Savvy Traveler :: Marc

    [...] not enjoyable…. but certainly a situation to look back on and laugh. Another was in Vietnam trying snake blood: my reactions in the video say it all. The stickiest situation was in Cambodia with the army. We [...]

  • Travel Blogs with an Edge: travel humour, sarcasm, wit & quirk.

    [...]  At any given moment, he might be chowing down on a happy herb pizza or chasing it down with snake blood vodka.  When he’s not munching on something he’s always game for an epic adventure, such as [...]

  • Renee Lotlessdrama Benson

    i have heard of ths i hate snakes yet my boyfriend thinks i should try it

  • Marc Passion