Visiting Hanoi’s Snake Village

Visiting Hanoi’s Snake Village

Are you looking for an exciting adventure on your trip to Vietnam? How about eating an entire snake, including it’s beating heart? If this sounds interesting to you, then check out the Le Mat Snake Village in Hanoi.

Le Mat is a village located in the Long Bien District of Hanoi, about 7 km. away from the city center. It’s known for its tradition of catching different snakes and then making them into delicious food. In fact, the village hosts a festival in honor of the tradition, which takes place every 23rd day of the 3rd Lunar month.

History of the Snake Village

According to folklore, during the reign of King Ly Thai Tong, the boat of the princess was said to have turned over by a giant snake when she went sightseeing over the Nguyet Duc River, which is now called the Duong River.

Fortunately, a man from the nearby Le Mat village came to the rescue and saved the princess. Because of that, the king decided to reward the man with some precious things and promised to give him a role in his dynasty. However, the man is said to have refused this offer. Instead, he asked the king to carry his villagers and those from the other neighboring villages to the western part of the citadel in order to have a better life.

To express their gratitude to this man, the villagers built a temple to worship him and those who idolized him followed in his footsteps by becoming snake catchers themselves!

Le Mat Snake Village Festival

Witnessing the Le Mat Snake Village Festival is a great experience. Taking place every 23rd day of the 3rd Lunar month, the festival begins with a water procession. During the procession, water will be taken from the pond to be poured into a massive porcelain jar. It will then be placed in a palanquin and will be carried into the temple.

From the pond, a big fish will be taken and will be covered in red cloth to be given as an offering. After the ceremony, the scene where the man killed the snake and saved the princess will be re-enacted. There will be drums playing in the background and snake-related activities will be held afterward. These include snake breeding, snake catching, as well as drinking and eating snake delicacies!

Visiting the Snake Village

Even when there’s no festival, visiting the Snake Village is still a fun experience. There are local travel agencies that offer tour packages to the snake village. If you’re interested to know the local’s way of living, it’s a great idea to join these tours. During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see and even hold the snakes, if you’re brave enough!

Since the snake is a local delicacy in the village, there are also cooking shows taking place, which is fun to watch! After the cooking show, you’ll be asked to have a taste of the dish and perhaps, finish your meal with a snake wine. In Vietnam, a snake meal is said to promote virility and strength.

Drinking the Snake Wine

Most of the snakes in the Le Mat Village are cobras and they are arranged safely in a secure enclosure. Some of them are quite long. The small ones are kept inside bottles of wine. Known as snake wine, the alcohol is said to be good for the health.

If you want to taste the wine, you’ll be asked to choose a scaly snake. They will slice the snake right in front of you and the blood will be collected. After a few minutes, a waiter will arrive carrying two glasses. One has the snake’s blood in it and the other consists of a green liquid, which is the bile. Both glasses will be mixed with rice vodka. There will also be a small dish where the snake’s heart is placed.

To partake the beverage, grab the glass of blood, place the heart, which is still beating, and drink it up! After this ritual, the slaughtered snake will be brought into the kitchen where chefs will cook them into various recipes.

Eating Snake Delicacies

In Le Mat, there are a wide variety of snake dishes and most of them are really tasty. These dishes are cooked in a variety of seasonings and plenty of lemongrasses. The snake meat is made into spring rolls, skewers, salad, porridge, a bowl of soup, and more! Sometimes, the skin of the snake is even grilled! Although the meat might somewhat be strange at first, especially if it’s your first time, but when you add seasonings and sauces, it will taste just like any regular meat. The meat texture is a combination of red meat and fish.

Indeed, visiting the Snake Village and eating snake meat in Vietnam is such an exciting experience and something that you’ll never forget!