Built in the 19th century in traditional Vietnamese style, the house was renovated in 1938 using a combination of Asian-European architecture. It was also raised to sit on a high cement floor to avoid flooding in the rainy season. And besides the design being the best of both worlds, its grounds are something to behold.
With a built-up area of around 100m2 and surrounded by two hectares of land, it boasts one of the most beautiful orchards in the area. Many kinds of southern specialty fruits such as Hoa Loc mango, oranges and green grapefruits flourish. But it is only recently that Mr Duc has realized it seems almost custom-built for a homestay destination.
He says: “I am proud that the ancient house of Ba Duc is considered as a typical and successful model in the field of homestay tourism in Tien Giang. This is really an ideal place for those who want to explore, experience the customs and cultural life of people in the Mekong Delta. The restoration of the old house was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and my family only started to put it into tourist service in the form of a homestay recently”.
Initially, the Ba Duc homestay only served guests on the precious wooden horse board [downstairs flooring]. Then following advice from the province’s tourism officials, we built 16 rooms, with two beds in each room, fully equipped with amenities and wifi.
“During a stay at Ba Duc, visitors are considered as members of my family. They are involved in daily activities such as shopping, buying food, and cooking traditional dishes of the south. As a result, I and everyone in the family take on the role of enthusiastic guide to help visitors discover, learn and experience this way of life. Besides farming, there are community and cultural activities, folk festivals and even a festival for gardeners.”
Ba Duc homestay is such a gem that some may not want to go far. Besides sampling the atmosphere inside and outside the ancient house, they have a variety of activities at their disposal. Mr Duc says: “They can just eat, relax and chat to my family. But if they want, they can just go for a stroll, do a bit of sightseeing or biking. Or they can join in with the local residents. Fishing in the river, taking care of the orchard, pruning, picking fruit and amateur singing can all provide entertainment during their stay.”
Still, he feels obliged to widen the experiences available. “At Ba Duc homestay, I provide visitors with information on services and tours in Cai Be and surrounding areas. I also call upon neighbours involved in activities related to homestay tourism to help build a team of trained staff to better serve visitors. Visitors can not only enjoy the architecture, the space and the special fruits, but it is an ideal base for exploring the Mekong Delta”.
With good facilities as well as professional staff, I have expanded my restaurant business to serve delicious dishes to include elements of Western cuisine,” he adds. Another unique touch is that visits to the canals can be done by the cruise ship of the travel agency contracted with the household.
Currently, like other homestays in the area, Ba Duc only caters for guests in groups in order to ensure hygiene and food safety standards are met and that the environment is protected. And making travel more comfortable, the village road surfaces in the area are either gravel, red stone or concrete.
To ensure these standards are maintained and improvements are implemented, Mr Duc contributes to the Farmer Assistance Fund and his efforts have earned him the titles “Good Manufacturing Farmer” and “Excellent Farmer Family”.
Since its first operation, he says Ba Duc homestay has received a lot of positive feedback: “Many tourists say that staying in Ba Duc ancient house they feel as comfortable as in their own house and will introduce friends and family to this type of travel.” Thousands of visitors are extremely grateful that he was never tempted to sell his old home.