Only seven kilometers away from the center of Hanoi, Snake Traditional Village (or Le Mat Village) is the place for eateries, adventures and cultural tours all at the same time. The village is renowned for its traditional snake-catching occupation and various snake specialties. Especially, between March 21st and 23rd of Lunar Year, neighboring people and pilgrims joyfully attend the long-lasting Le Mat Village Festival originated from the 10th century.
Legend of a snake village
Legend has it that under the Ly regime (the 10th century), a darling daughter of Ly Nhan Tong, who enjoyed sailing across the Thien Duc River (Duong River now), one day was, unfortunately, drown in the water. The king announced that he would award anyone who could find her body. There came a brave young man Hoang Ngoc Trung of Le Mat Village fighting fiercely with a snake monster, beheading it and succeeding in bringing her body back.
The king rewarded him with lots of treasures, but he refused them all and only wished to take the sick of Le Mat and other villages to the Western land of Thang Long capital and make it their farm. With the king’s permission, they managed to exploit the area and extend it into thirteen prosperous homesteads (West Lake District now). Afterward, he returned to his hometown and once again developed it into a wealthy village. Therefore, people worshiped him as the Village God, and many villagers followed his example of catching snakes as an occupation.
Snake-catching occupation and snake delicacy
After being told about their fine story, you will surely be flattered watching rows of snake cages where cobras, kraits, and rat snake lively move inside. Le Mat is the most famous snake traditional village in Vietnam and one of the tops in the world with hundreds of skillful snake-breeding households and dozens of neatly snake restaurants.
According to the belief, Eastern people recognized that the snake as a valuable medicine for pain relief and antidote in human limbs and joints. Here there are many dishes made of the snake you choose yourselves: snake porridge, stir-fried snake, snake sausage, green stewed snake, grilled snake served with snake blood/ bile liquor. With an affordable price of about VND 200.000 (USD 9) per person, this is a must-try delicacy that you cannot find in every region.
Le Mat Village Festival
Year in year out, the representatives from thirteen homesteads never miss bringing their possession to pay tribute to the Village God Hoang Duc Trung on March 23rd of Lunar Year. This traditional festival has passed from generation to generation including Water Procession Ceremony, Text Procession Ceremony, Fish- Catching Ceremony, Giao Long (Dragon Monster) Dance and Thirteen-Homestead Welcoming Ceremony.
Therein, Giao Long Dance is the most extraordinary performance which was granted the National Intangible Cultural Heritage recognition in 2015. The Dragon Monster bamboo lath covered with colorful cloth represents the snake monster defeated by the Village God Hoang Duc Trung. In the harmony of eight kinds of musical sounds combined with the repeated sound of traditional drums, the chosen talented villagers reenact the story of Hoang Duc Trung rescuing the Ly princess in the 10th century.
The cooking contest afterward has also seduced many visitors with lots of unique snake dishes including the “three snakes or five frogs in a dish,” carp feast and raw fish salad… Here you have even more chances to taste the finest cooking styles and the most appetizing food of Le Mat people.
If you wish to enjoy one of the richest cultures in Hanoi or have the most “fresh” experience to brag about, like witnessing a snake heart still beating 15 minutes after being taken out of the body, Le Mat is the land for you.
How to Visit Le Mat Snake Village ? Enjoy a Le Mat Snake Traditional Viilage Tour