Best Day Trips from Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it was formerly known as is Vietnam’s chaotic megatropolis. The motorbike capital of the world, the traffic here stays chaotic from early morning to late at night. Doing at least one day trip from Ho Chi Minh City is an absolute must as well.
This city is a lot to take in, especially for those leaving the comforts of Europe or America for the first time. The pace can seem at times, overwhelming, something is happening everywhere you look. While in Ho Chi Min, there are a few tours that you can do here that are an absolute must. The two obvious choices are the Mekong Delta Tour and the Cu Chi Tunnel Tour. We will start with our guide of these two tours and then move on to lesser explored options that we think is worth everyones time.
Mekong Delta Tours
One of the most iconic natural wonders of Asia, the mighty Mekong Delta is a biological treasure cove. Home to hundreds of species and some that you will only find in the Mekong such as the Indochinese Tiger. There has been human settlement on the Mekong since pre-history and throughout the centuries this has always been a place of importance.
The Mekong Delta is accessable in a day from Ho Chi Minh. The day tour will give you a glimpse of the wonders of this area, but note that it can be difficult to escape the tourist crowds when you do a day tour. As most of the day tours will only have enough to go to the same locations it is harder to get to areas that are less crowded. The day tour is still a terrific experience and worth doing if you only have a limited time schedule.
Venturing out into the Mekong for two days is exactly what you need to get the “real experience”. And yes the term “real experience” or “authentic experience” is definitely a term that gets thrown around a lot in this industry, but this time we really mean it. The two day tour is on a luxurious cruise boat with private rooms and restaruant. The cruise takes you to area’s where the day tour simply can not.
Cu Chi Tunnel Tours
The Cu Chi Tunnel’s is an expansavie network of tunnels utilized by the Viet Cong during the American Vietnamese war. They would amazingly live in these tunnels to protect themselves from the extensive bombing campaigns conducted by the Americans during those years. Loyal to their leader Ho Chi Minh, these tunnels and the people who lived in these tunnels are a testiment to the incredible struggle that went on here during that dark time in history.
Tours here are done in 6-7 hours and as usual you have plenty of options to chose from. The cheapest option is joining a group bus tour, usually the buses are small and you are only traveling with around 12-15 people. The tour will drive you to the tunnels where an experienced guide will walk you through the area giving historical context for what you are viewing. There is an incredible amount of “booby traps” on display here that are certainly not for the faint hearted, but will certainly psark hte interest of fans of Vietnam war classics such as “Apocolypse Now” and “Platoon”.
The Vietnam American war is a sensitive issue like all great tragedies are, but there is an unquestionable willingnes among the Vietnamese people to highlight this part of their history to help people to understand why such things can happen and hopefully how to avoid this in the future.
Cat Tien National Park Day Trip
For a full day trekking experience in a stunning national park, be sure to visit Cat Tien national park. The park is home to a great diversity of wildlife including Elephants and Bears. Included on a day trip here is a visit to the Bear and Wildlife rescue center. Cat Tien is home to a large collection of rare birds and endangared primates. The dense rainforrest has countless of tree’s that are severl centuries years old. The tour will pick you up from your accommodation in Ho Chi Minh early in the morning and get you to the park around 11:00 AM. The tour will return you back to Saigon around 11:00 PM. The hiking routes in the park are absolutely stunning and worth the visit.
Can Gio Mangrove Forrest
Can Gio is a wetland located 40 km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City and listed by UNESCO as a bisphere reserve. The forrest is home to a great selection of rare species and offers a wonderful escape into tropical nature from Saigon. Here you get to see monkey’s, gibbons and crocodiles up close. Take a boat ride through the wetland and then go for a hike into the forrest. The vegatation at the mangrove is very rich with over 150 species of plants.
Hike Ba Den Mountain AKA Black Virgin Mountain
The Ba Den Mountain or “Black Virgin Mountain” is a part of Nui Ba cultural complex in Tay Ninh. This area attracts many visitors each year due to the magnificent scenerary and Pagoda’s which can be found here. According to the local tales, in the end of the 18th century, the conflict between Trinh King and Nguyen Kinh had put the country into turmoil. At that time, there was a young man named Le Sy Triet from Quang Hoa. With his intelligence and bravery, he said goodbye to his lover, Ly Thi Thien Huong, and enlisted in the army of Nguyen Hue, a general who later became King Quang Trung. Ly Thi Thien Huong was a beautiful girl with a lovely tanned skin. Even when Le Sy Triet had gone, she still remained faithful to him. Unfortunately, she was forced to marry a powerful man in the village. Too desperate and sorrowful, the girl committed suicide by jumping off a mountain edge to protect her virginity. As they regretted the young girl’s beauty and trait, people built a temple on that mountain, which was renamed as Ba Den Mountain, to commemorate and worship her. Gradually, pilgrims from everywhere learned about the story and visited the temple in the spring, forming a custom which has lasted for generations.
Accessing Ba Den mountain can either be done through a guided day tour or you can venture yourself via motorbike.