Romantically referred to by the French as the Pearl of the Orient, Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, it is ideal for exploring southern Vietnam. From Saigon, you can reach other attractions easily with buses or ferries.
What are the best day trips from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)?
Here are some ideas for a perfect weekend getaway from Saigon.
Cu Chi Tunnel
Located 70 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi tunnel makes a perfect day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, thanks to its location.
How to get there
It takes approximately 1.5 hours by car from Saigon to Cu Chi, and it costs around $70 for a vehicle.
However, the easiest and best way to visit the Cu Chi tunnel is by an organized tour, which costs only $12 per person, including transportation and guide.
With only a 2.5-hour drive, you can relax on the sandy beach with the warm sun, trekking to the lighthouse, or have fun at Ho May park.
Vung Tau is also an excellent base to visit the beach nearby, Ho Tram.
How to get there
Another way to get from Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau is by ferry. Greenlines DP offers excellent service at $11 per person, and the travel time is approximately 2 hours.
How about exploring the beauty of Southern Vietnam with a day trip to My Tho?
Start your day early and hop on a bus tour or scooter to My Tho – a land with the river culture of the Mekong Delta region.
Within 2 hours, the bus will take you to My Tho from Saigon. There, you can enjoy the boat ride cruising along the river or visiting the coconut factory (family business) and trying honey tea with fresh fruits while listening to music.
How to get there
If you decide to go by scooter, you can follow Highway 1A from Saigon to Thoi Son islet and buy a tour to visit the island and surroundings.
However, I recommend taking the one-day Mekong tour because it is, in fact, cheaper than traveling on your own. The tour includes transportation, a guide, and a lunch.
If you have more than one day, consider taking a 2-day-trip Mekong tour, with a visit to the floating market – an interesting culture of Mekong Delta.
Another day trip that you can take from Ho Chi Minh is Can Gio – a coastal suburban district located southeast.
Located 50km away from the center of Saigon, Can Gio has long been a favorite tourist destination, especially on weekends and holidays.
Visiting Can Gio, you can explore the Vam Sat mangrove forest, play with the monkeys at Monkey island (Lam Vien ecotourism center), or try fresh oysters and seafood at Hang Duong market.
Thach An island is another great place to visit in Can Gio. Visiting Thanh An Island, you can enjoy a peaceful and calm atmosphere, different from the bustling Saigon.
If you’d like to experience the life of salt villagers, you can visit Thieng Lieng village, a small town with less than 200 households.
With a height of 868m, Virgin mountain, or Ba Den mountain, in Tay Ninh is the roof of Southern Vietnam.
One of the must-visit spots on the Virgin mountain is Virgin Pagoda.
To get to the pagoda, you can hike or take a cable car or a slide. The slide system has two routes: the upline is about 1,190 m long, and the downline is about 1,700 m long.
It takes about 1 hour to hike up to Virgin pagoda and approximately half a day if you decide to continue hiking to the top of the mountain.
When to hike?
Daytime: Hike from morning or early afternoon, prepare a tent to sleep overnight, and get up early to catch the dawn.
At night: Although climbing at night will be more difficult and dangerous but less effort than daytime, you will be able to catch dawn and see the clouds around 4 am to 5 am on the top of the mountain.
You can climb the Virgin mountain all year round. However, if possible, avoid the rainy months from August to November because the roads will be more difficult.
What to bring when hiking?
- Hiking shoes
- Drinking water: Minimum 2l
- Dried food: instant noodles, candy
- Lightweight T-shirt, pants, jacket, and hat
- Individual raincoat
- General medical supplies, mosquito repellent
- Lightweight backpack with a tight belt
Which one is your favorite day trip on this list? Feel free to share below.