Memos from Asia

7 Best Day-Trip Ideas from Ho Chi Minh City to Try This Year

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Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) is a bustling metropolis in Southern Vietnam. Those travelers who are short in time usually spend two to three days exploring the city. However, some others need more than just a peek of Southern Vietnam. They end up making their way to the surrounding areas which allow them to unfold another kind of beauty this Southern land offers.

To give you an idea of the local Saigonese’s favorite places, I have compiled a list of seven best places where you can make a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City.

Where to Go from Ho Chi Minh City for Culture-Vultures?

If you’re a culture-vulture seeking an authentic lifestyle of the Southern Vietnamese people, I highly recommend ••Mekong Delta••. This vast, lush, and abundant wet rice delta comprises 13 provinces. Amongst those cities, four of which can give you a great day trip from Saigon which only takes you roughly three hours on a sleeper bus.

Tra Su Mangrove Forest

You can choose amongst Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, and Vinh Long to admire the fascinating landscape of rivers, rice fields, fruit plantations, and a wide array of authentic Mekong cuisines.

A vast rice field in Soc Trang

These cities boast a mesmerizing collection of traditional handicraft villages and iconic landmarks with an interesting history behind each. The Mekong Delta emerges as a friendly and rustic destination where people welcome you with the brightest smiles on their faces.

A smiley lady wearing traditional conical hat

You can spend half an hour listening to Don Ca Tai Tu, which is a form of traditional folk singing performance, while sipping a hot serving of honey tea.

Performing Don Ca Tu at night

The best activity in the Mekong Delta is always rowing a wooden boat along a small canal. After a long traveling day, it’s time to spend a night over a local homestay before hitting a floating market early in the next morning!

Trading scene in the floating market

Where to Go from Ho Chi Minh City for History Buffs?

The best place that will satisfy your hunger for wartime stories is definitely Cu Chi Tunnels. Within only 90 minutes from Saigon city center, you will end up at the extensive network of underground built by the Communist Viet Cong soldiers during the Indochina War and Vietnam War.

This secretive labyrinth of tunnels played its roles as a strategic point of attack against the American and South Vietnamese forces based in Saigon, the capital of the Republic of Vietnam.

Other than just a command center, Cu Chi Tunnels also function as a shelter and supply routes. Nowadays, Cu Chi becomes a must-see destination for anyone seeking a vivid, real artifact that can tell a lot from the infamous Vietnam War during the 20th century.

Where to Go from Ho Chi Minh City for Religious Souls?

Tay Ninh, home of the two most iconic religious points of interest, takes you less than three hours by car for a day trip. The first and most famous place in Tay Ninh is Cao Dai Temple, a colorful and vibrant holy shrine dedicated to the practitioners of the Caodaism religion.

This folk religion is native to the South of Vietnam which originates in 1926. Caodaism borrows different elements and philosophies from the major religions around the world, which include Catholicism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

Apart from learning about the religion, what attracts tourists to this very landmark is a vibrant design this building owns. Make your way to the upper balcony on the inside of the building and you can indulge in the ceremony service which takes place at noon every day.

The next destination you should not miss when visiting Tay Ninh is the Black Virgin Mountain. As interesting as the name signals, this natural mountain takes hold of multiple pagodas and holy shrines which attract a great number of pilgrims every May of the lunar calendar.

Black Virgin Mountain is an extinct volcano where the young hikers embark on a 996-meter-high trail every weekend. For those who are not confident in their physical fitness, opt for the cable car system to make your way to the summit instead.

Where to Go from Ho Chi Minh City for Beach Fanatics?

Beachgoers assemble! Do you know that there’s a famous coastal city right close by Saigon that only takes you two hours by scooter? Vung Tau, one of the most talked-about beaches in the South of Vietnam is a weekend getaway that attracts a dense crowd flocking from the neighboring areas.

This seaside city is hugged by an extensive coastline facing the magnificent Pacific Ocean to the East. The most famous beaches in Vung Tau are Bai Truoc (Front Beach) and Bai Sau (Back Beach).

Vung Tau Beach

Other than getting a splash in the ocean, don’t forget to check out the one and only Statue of Jesus Christ and a hearty serving of Banh Khot (fried mini pancakes) before returning to Saigon at the end of the day.

Where to Go from Ho Chi Minh City for Nature Lover?

Anyone here looking for a decent place to trek through the forest to admire the wildlife? If the peaceful nature is your ideal escape from the hustle and bustle, don’t hesitate to check out Can Gio Biosphere Reserve right away!

Can Gio is a UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserve with the spectacular system of flora and fauna. The highlight of this entire wetland is Vam Sat Mangrove Forest surrounded by various habitats of birds, monkeys, and crocodiles. The best outdoor activity to revel in at Can Gio is a mix of walks and boat ride around the main sections of the park.

Other than Can Gio, we have another iconic nature reserve located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Nam Cat Tien National Park. This point of interest is the most sought-after destination in Dong Nai province and known as one of the largest national parks across the country.

Encompassing a vast area of lowland tropical forest, Nam Cat Tien houses numerous habitats for different residents, such as elephants, leopards, and gibbons.

Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) is the focal point of the area, which will put your outdoor experience to the limelight. You can sail around this gigantic lake in a small boat. In addition to cruising and walking around, you can also choose from a vast array of outdoor activities such as hiking, visiting the animal rescue center as well as the ethnic villages.

Which one of the above will be on your bucket list? No matter where you choose, don’t forget to find the best local tour guide to accompany you along the way! With a local companion, you will have a better insight into the local life and culture every place you visit!

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