The 5 Best Things To See In the South of Vietnam
- on Apr 21, 2018       By: Hai Anh
The South of Vietnam has always attracted travelers with its relaxing beaches, rolling hills, network of waterways with floating markets, misty highlands and bustling, hip Ho Chi Minh City. To help you plan your next trip to Vietnam, Authentik Travel has compiled the 5 best things to see in the South of Vietnam for you
1. Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh)
As the locals call it, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) carries many hidden treasures. It is Vietnam’s largest and most chaotic city with millions of cars and bikes swirling around. It’s a city with a billion things happening at once. It has some great historical places as well as cafes and restaurants. It is always a pleasure to stroll around the little alleys and take in the colonial past. If you are a foodie, then Saigon is the place to be! There are tons of great cafes here. Most of them have good Wi-Fi and serve unlimited iced green tea for free.
We have mentioned some of the things you shouldn’t miss out on. In one of our earlier posts, Danica, who has lived in Vietnam for many years reveals her Best Places in Saigon.
♦ What to see
Saigon Central Post Office – Just across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings of Saigon. It is a heritage of the French occupation and it is based on the design work of Gustav Eiffel. You will immediately enter the massive hall and on the walls you will see painted maps of South Vietnam. The Post Office is still active today.
Cu Chi Tunnels – During the Vietnamese War against the U.S the Viet Cong dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels that acted as kitchens, storage space, living areas and hospitals. Some parts were even several stories deep. The Cu Chi Tunnels are located around 30 to 40 minutes outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
♦ Where to find souvenirs?
When shopping for the right fabric in Ho Chi Minh City, go to Chợ An Đông (An Dong Market) Phường 9, District 5 to find the best fabric. For a paradise of textiles, go upstairs to the part reminiscent of some sort of urban flea market.
Looking for a good tailor for suits? Check Phi Phi tailor on 183 Le Thanh Ton, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1.
The House Of Saigon is the place where you can buy beautifully made handicrafts from local Vietnamese artisans. 16 Thủ Khoa Huân, Bến Thành Ward.
♦ Where to find food?
You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to eat out well. Actually, you will find the best food in Ho Chi Minh at the local street food stalls.
+ If you want to eat delicious soup, go to the Lunch Lady. You can find her stand at 23 Hoang Sa St., District 1. She rotates different kinds of soup depending on the day of the week.
+ Sư Vạn Hạnh street is famous for its delicious pancakes filled with bean sprouts and meat. Go to 004 Lô H for some fantastic pancakes. This family has been in the business for over 14 years.
+ Other great streets to stroll along and find some amazing Vietnamese food are Tran Khac Chan Street and Cô Giang Street, both in district 1.
Where to find accommodation
+ District 1 is where most of the major hotels are located. I recommend staying in either District 1, close to Pham Ngu Lao, if you want to be in amongst the action, or in District 3 for a more local feel.
Ma Mason Boutique hotel for example is a beautiful small-scale colonial hotel with a lovely and cozy interior.
2. Cruising through the Mekong delta river
The Mekong Delta is also called the “Rice Bowl’ of Vietnam that stretches from Ho Chi Minh City to the South West and the Gulf of Thailand. The flat land is rich in fruit orchards, palm trees, floating markets and rice fields. What is so great about the Mekong is the everyday scene you can experience. Farmers working on their land, children riding on the back of water buffalos, fruit vendors smiling. It simply gives you a great peek into Vietnamese countryside life.
3. Chau Doc
Chau Doc is known as the gateway to Cambodia and also the place to start the Mekong River cruises. The village itself is not so special, but the environment is beautiful.
>>> Read more about 4 reasons to explore Chau Doc - An Giang, an unforgettable spot in the upstream of Mekong Delta
♦ Go hiking to the top of the Nui Sam (Sam Mountain)
This is one of the nicest hiking trails of the Mekong Delta. At the bottom of the hill is a bustling neighborhood, where you can buy food at the local market, but the higher you go the quieter it becomes. Follow the motor free walking trail on the north side (if you take the east side you have to watch all the scooters).
♦ Cruise through an old swamp
National Park U Minh Thunog is an immense swamp and mangrove forest at CaMau that you can explore by boat. This place is fantastic, especially for bird enthusiasts, as there are more than 187 bird species.
♦ Tra Su Forest
Near Chau Doc lies the Tra Su Forest (30 km southwest). The forest is a former plantation that is now a wildlife reserve, teeming with bird life and beautiful lotus flowers. It is a flooded mangrove forest that forms a beautiful contrast with the lush green plants of the park.
Entrance into the Tra Su Forest costs around VND 60,000 per person including all boat rides. There are a few huts selling coconuts and snacks, but bringing your own picnic lunch would be ideal.
4. Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc is a great place if you want to relax in your hammock, take in some sun and enjoy your day. It is becoming increasingly popular as it has some stunning beaches, clear seas and great bars. In the northwest at Ghan Dau and the South East at Bai Sao, you will find the nicest beaches and small bays. Which beaches are best to visit depends on the time of the year . If you are coming from Chau Doc then it's best to take a bus to Ha Thien first (3 hours). From there you can take a boat to Phu Quoc.
5. Con Dao Island
The Con Dao Archipelago is one of the most beautiful and least developed destinations in Vietnam. It is situated off the southern coast of Vietnam, a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City. The island group consists of mountainous islands with thick canopies of forest and is a paradise for divers and nature lovers alike.
On the island you will find endangered species like the dugong, hawksbill turtle, long-tailed macaque monkeys, giant black squirrels, and the green turtle. The island also has some impressive ecosystems like mangrove, sea grass meadow, and coral reefs. Go for a hike from the park headquarters (29 Vo Thi Sau Street).
In recent years a number of resort hotels have sprung up on the islands and a short stay here is slowly increasing in popularity as the islands build a reputation as an ‘eco-getaway’. The best time to visit Con Dao Islands is from March to June, when the sea is calmest.
Visit the local market, small but cute, and get a really cheap and tasty breakfast. Try banana rolled with rice (yum).
Rent a motorbike to find some of the best and most excluded beaches. Head east past Mui Ca Map to Nhat Beach for some of the island’s clearest waters.
Some great places for filling your tummy are Infiniti Café (for fresh juices, own-baked bread, home-made pizza, coffee and ice cream) and Quán Ăn Thanh Huyền, just 5 minutes out of town by motorbike.
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