Attractions Nearby Ho Chi Minh City, Day Trips and Excursions
(Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, Vietnam)
Just outside the concrete realm of Ho Chi Minh City lies a more verdant scene, with the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta and some of the country's most interesting attractions.
If you need a break from the city, day trips are easily arranged to places like Can Gio Island or the wartime Cu Chi Tunnels. There are also countless small towns and villages in southern Vietnam
that make interesting excursions if you want to observe the rural side to life in this country, while a selection of coastal attractions are close to Ho Chi Minh City, such as the beaches of Long Hai and Vung Tau. Further afield are the Binh Chau Hot Springs and the Con Dao Islands, both of which are around 150 km / 93 miles away.
Can Gio Island
Address: Can Gio, Vung Tau Peninsula, Vietnam, VN
Can Gio is a great little getaway less than two hours south of Ho Chi Minh City. Don't get excited by the prospect of a nice beach, though. Can Gio is mainly a mangrove swamp with a long sandy strip. The reason that most choose to go to Can Gio is the drive, which crosses several bridges and requires a couple of ferry rides. This route passes through beautiful countryside, and when you get to Can Gio you can hang out with Vietnamese families who flock here on the weekends to picnic and relax. Renting a motorbike is the ideal way to get to Can Gio. Particular attractions include a monkey sanctuary, a wildlife museum and the Cao Dai temple.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Address: Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam, VN
Tel: +84 08 8794 6442
Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, you've probably heard about the amazing tunnel system where North Vietnamese guerrillas hid out while waiting to attack Saigon during the Vietnam War. This day trip is very popular and certainly worth it. Cu Chi lies at the southern end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, some 65 km / 40 miles to the north-west of the city. A small museum with artefacts and photos is onsite, as well as a fascinating exhibit of snares and other implements used by the guerrillas. You can even crawl down into a recreated section of these carved wartime survival tunnels, but be prepared for a dirty and claustrophobic experience.
Open hours: daily - 07:00 to 17:00
Cat Tien National Park
Address: Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, VN
This huge national park covers more than 70,000 hectares / 172,975 acres and is one of the premier birding and wildlife preserves in the country. Located around 145 km / 90 miles north of the city, Cat Tien National Park is very well organised, with an excellent information centre where you can rent bicycles and jeeps, or hire guides at reasonable rates. Although the birds are what draw most visitors, the park is also home to the only remaining stand of evergreen old growth forest in southern Vietnam. For a dose of tropical nature within a couple hours of Saigon, Cat Tien is the best bet.
Open hours: daily
Dai Nam Tourist Park
Address: Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, VN
This comprehensive tourist park is one of Vietnam's newest attractions, having opened in late 2008. The expansive Dai Nam Tourist Park (Lac Canh Dai Nam Van Hien) complex features an open-air zoo (with elephants, rhinos, tigers and zebras), a water park, roller coasters, a log flume ride, restaurants, hotels and shopping areas, and is a mere 30 km / 19 miles from Ho Chi Minh City. At the heart of this attraction is the sprawling Dai Nam Van Tien Temple, offering a touch of tradition to go with the more entertaining aspects of the park. There is even a manmade mountain range to explore (the largest in Vietnam). Catering to both locals and tourists, this huge park aims to bring mass tourism to the Saigon region.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 20:00
Capital of the Vietnamese province of the same name, the town of Tay Ninh is of great significance in Vietnam, since it is central to the religion of Cao Daism. Many of the attractions within Tay Ninh are therefore of a religious nature, with the best including the Cao Dai Great Temple, which is part of the Cao Dai Holy See complex. Also worth a visit is the bustling Long Hoa Market and the various cave temples in nearby Nui Ba Den.
Buu Long Mountain
A scenic spot suitable for day trips, the Buu Long Mountain is a good place to escape from the noise of the city and provides plenty of tranquility. More of a large hill than an actual mountain, Buu Long is just 60 metres / 197 feet in height and the summit can be easily reached by several different trails. Those feeling energetic enough to walk all the way to the top will find the Buu Phong Pagado awaiting, as well as some outstanding views of the Dragon Lake (Long An) and the Dong Nai River.
A number of popular beach resorts lie within reach of Ho Chi Minh city. The city of Vung Tau is around two hours away (125 km / 78 miles to the south-east) and connected by regular buses, as well as boat trips along the Saigon River. Ideal for an excursion, visitors travel to Vung Tau for its very pleasant beaches, with the weekends often being busy. For the best views of Vung Tau, climb up the towering statue of Christ, which stands on the Small Mountain.
Lying around 15 km / 9 miles from Vung Tau, the seaside retreat of Long Hai is another favourite day trip for Saigon locals, who enjoy the uncommercialised nature of this attractive spot. Long Hai is a charming fishing village with a white-sandy beach, a mountain-top temple and bungalow accommodation, which is provided by the Anoasis Beach Resort.
Also within reach of the city is Ho Coc Beach, where soft golden sand, dunes and sparkling water draws large crowds of sunseekers. The beach enjoys a particularly scenic backdrop, comprising a spreading rainforest and nature reserve. Close to Ho Coc is Ho Tram Beach, where the Ho Tram Beach Resort and Spa has become something of a tourist magnet, with its lively beach bar and al fresco dining. A few kilometres to the west of Ho Tram is Loc An Beach, where a beach lined with mature palm trees is the principal attraction. Nearby, a large lagoon is home to the Loc An Resort, and boats are on hand to shuttle guests to and from the beach itself.