The 8 Best Day Trips From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho chi Minh City (aka Saigon) is Vietnam’s largest city, where you could easily spend two wonderful days slurping down amazing noodle soups và walking on 100-year-old tiles laid down during French colonial times.

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But Ho đưa ra Minh city is also the gateway khổng lồ southern Vietnam, with its vast Mekong Delta, quaint floating markets, historic wartime sites and pristine nature reserves. Here’s a danh mục of the best five day trips from Ho chi Minh City. 

Get a taste of the Vietnamese countryside at Ben Tre và My Tho

Why go: If you don’t have time to lớn overnight deep in the Mekong Delta, these two sister cities just two hours south of Ho đưa ra Minh đô thị provide a glimpse into rural countryside living.

What khổng lồ see: Ben Tre, the so-called Coconut Capital of Vietnam, is just opposite the river from the more developed đô thị of My Tho. Both make for a quaint getaway where you can take in fruit orchards, cottage industries và surprisingly rural villages just off the main highway.

The four inhabited river islands between Ben Tre & My Tho are home to bee farms, coconut candy factories, and scenic orchards where you can sample tropical fruit while being serenaded by Vietnamese folk singers. The Vietnamese government has established eco-resorts in the area, complete with horse-pulled carts that take visitors from attraction lớn attraction. 

What to lớn eat and drink: Ben Tre makes everything coconut, from coconut wood souvenirs lớn chewy coconut candy. Watch as the workers stretch & mold the sweet little squares và take some trang chủ as a sweet memento. Also try the hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho, a noodle soup specialty of My Tho, with chewy rice noodles topped with shrimp, pork, pork offal and heaps of fresh vegetables.

How to lớn get there: If you’re confident on a motorbike, head 2 hours due south of Ho chi Minh City. With your own motorbike, you’re không tính phí to veer off onto the many small paths leading to village markets & authentic countryside scenes completely devoid of tourists. Otherwise, join the better-off locals on private air-conditioned buses và mini-vans for the two-hour, US$4 road trip to lớn Ben Tre where you can arrange a boat & guide to visit the islands. Easier still are day trips bookable from Saigon for as little as US$11, including lunch. 

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Shop the old-fashioned way at Cai Be’s floating markets

Why go: Vietnam’s floating markets are fast disappearing due to lớn better road infrastructure and cheaper transport options. While smaller than the more well-known floating market just outside of Can Tho, the Cai Be floating market is the closest one to Ho chi Minh City, taking just about 2 hours khổng lồ reach. 

What lớn see: The floating market is a throwback khổng lồ when most trade and transport was conducted on the waterways – a safer, cheaper, faster option than road travel since almost every home by the water had its own canoe. The Cai Be floating market is comprised of 2 dozen or so barges, each with distinctive painted eyes (said to bring the boats safely home) & long poles with produce hung high up khổng lồ announce what’s for sale. 

Expect a kaleidoscope of colors and a flurry of activity, especially early in the morning, when smaller boats buy fruits, vegetables, rice & other products of the Delta for re-sale at land-based markets while still smaller boats service the larger ones with breakfast noodles & drinks. You can hire tourist boats from Cai Be for a trip around the floating market while smaller canoes ferry passengers on scenic cruises through narrow waterways lined on both sides by water palms. 

Where to lớn eat & drink: Le Longanier Restaurant is a beautiful lunch spot in an Indochine-style mansion serving up elegant versions of Mekong Delta favorites, including deep-fried elephant-ear fish rolled up in rice paper.

How lớn get there: The nhì Duyen shuttle departs from Saigon’s District 5 for US$5. It's a 2.5-hour drive to Cai Be where you can negotiate your own boat to take you out khổng lồ the floating market. If you’d rather leave the hassle to someone else, budget-friendly day tours are plentiful và easy khổng lồ book from Saigon’s backpacker area (Bui Vien & Pham dở hơi Lao Streets) or for those with a little more cash to flash, a private day cruise offers the ultimate in comfort.

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Lie out in style at Vung Tau’s beaches và hotels

Why go: Known as Cap Saint-Jacques when it was a beach playground frequented by French colonists, modern-day Vung Tau is the closest ocean beach to lớn Saigon. 

What to lớn see: While its long danh mục of attractions includes a Giant Jesus (larger than the one in Rio), a turn-of-the-century lighthouse and a cable car–accessed amusement park, the main reason lớn hit up Vung Tau for the day is lớn laze around on its handful of respectable city beaches.

While most are fronted by seafood restaurants with beach chairs for customers (double-check your bill as some have been known lớn overcharge), lay out in style at the Beach Club at the Imperial Hotel. Modeled after Roman baths with an infinity pool và loads of sun loungers, the complex can be accessed with a day pass that will set you back only US$12.

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If you’re looking for quieter beaches, Ho Tram is an up-and-coming destination about 40 km (25 miles) east of Vung Tau where there are a handful of resorts ranging from glitzy mega hotels with world-class golf courses and casinos khổng lồ the very rustic River Ray Estates. At the latter, you can practically have the whole stretch of beach to yourself on a weekday or relax poolside for just a US$3 entrance fee. 

Where khổng lồ eat & drink: The covered Hoa Bien night seafood market is located just behind the Imperial Hotel; choose your own live seafood & have it cooked lớn order.

How lớn get there: Both the US$11 fast boat & US$5 mini-van take about 2 hours. The mini-van will drop you off at a centrally-located Vung Tau hotel. Once you’re in the city, taxis are plentiful to explore the sights. Toan Thang minivans ply the route between Ho chi Minh City & Ho Tram.


Explore the wartime tunnels of Cu Chi

Why go: Built over a period of 25 years by Northern Vietnamese forces, the 250 km (155 miles) of underground tunnels at Cu chi are an engineering marvel & a wartime site of historical importance.

What to lớn see: If you’ve ever wondered how Vietnamese farmers were able lớn defeat one of the most powerful military powers in history, a visit to the Cu bỏ ra Tunnels is in order. Visitors can descend steep steps down into dark, narrow passages leading to underground bunkers, living quarters & even a hospital which allowed the Northern Vietnamese to lớn mount surprise attacks, then seemingly vanish into thin air. 

How to get there: There are two sections xuất hiện to visitors, Ben Dinh (closer và more-visited) and Ben Duoc (where more of the locals go). Both are accessible by public bus #13 from the September 23 Park near Saigon’s backpacker quarter to lớn the Cu bỏ ra Bus Station, và then #63 khổng lồ Ben Dinh or #79 to Ben Duoc for just over US$1.

The trip will take about 3 hours. Or book a half-day tour khổng lồ visit just the tunnels or add on the Cao dẻo Holy See, a colorful temple dedicated to Vietnam’s homegrown religion of Caodaisim – once described by Graham Greene as the “Walt Disney Fantasia of the East”.


Paddle through mangrove forests in Can Gio

Why go: Exchange the urban jungle for a much greener one in the Unesco-listed Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve. 

What lớn see: Functioning as the “green lungs” of the region, this vast area of wetlands, salt marshes and mangroves just 2.5 hours south of Ho chi Minh City is trang chủ to a diverse range of flora và fauna including king cobras, saltwater crocodiles and fishing cats, along with 130 or so bird species. Cruise the bat lagoon in a rowboat or climb up a 25m-high observation tower lớn look for birds over the treetops. 

How lớn get there: From the September 23 Park, take the public bus #75 và hop off at the Vam Sat Ecopark. The trip takes just over two hours và costs about US$1. There’s also the option to take a luxury speedboat trip right from the Saigon riverside. The boat ride there is almost as interesting as the destination, as you pass stilt houses, barges laden down with produce and rustic scenes of life on the river, with a stop khổng lồ visit a small town wet market.

This article was originally published in December 2018. It was last updated in February 2022.

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This article was first published June 2019 và updated February 2022

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