If you still have a few free short days after enjoying a meaningful exploration of vibrant Saigon, then planning day trips from Ho Chi Minh City is definitely a nice idea.
A peaceful escape from the noisy city gives you an opportunity to learn new things, brighten your horizon, and collect a lot of memorable experience. Contrary to popular belief, there are some rejuvenating landmarks nearby which make for a perfect day trip from the madness of Saigon. If you have no idea about where to start first, these are my top recommendations for day trip options from the city. Of course, they are really worth your consideration; so, check them out now!
Can Gio Mangrove Forest
About 60 kilometers away from the city, Can Gio Mangrove Forest is really perfect for a day trip itinerary. In fact, getting there is so easy for those who don’t mind public transportation. It takes about one hour to reach the forest by a speedboat and about 2-3 hours by car or motorbike. Officially recognized as an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this is an impressive ecological conservation of biodiversity where you can feast your eyes on diverse varieties of indigenous vegetation and different species of wildlife. Among them, extensive mangrove forests seem to be the big magnet for nature lovers.
Basically, the most interesting activities while in there include visiting Monkey Island, taking a promenade around the island to watch the saltwater crocodile reserve, learning more about the Vietnam War by checking in Rung Sac Guerrilla Base, and sampling exotic seafood in the nearby restaurants or made by the locals.
Beach vacationers will find it easy to plan their day-trip holiday to Vung Tau as it is the nearest beach city from Saigon. Although this is not the most beautiful and gorgeous beach, in comparison with other coastal towns in Vietnam, its close proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, stunning sightseeing scenery, and smooth highways, make Vung Tau the first choice for a one-day beach journey. Both local and foreign tourists like gathering there to unwind at weekend.
Along with relaxing at beaches, travelers are also fond of other exciting activities here, such as partaking in Ho May Park, taking the 810 stairs to the top of the Jesus Christ Statue, checking in Vung Tau Lighthouse, visiting several well-known Buddhist pagodas. To protect your wallet, it is better to bargain down the cost before buying anything.
Cu Chi Tunnels
If history buffs wish to plan day trips from Ho Chi Minh City, then the complex of Cu Chi Tunnels is an ideal option because the distance of 70 kilometers is not a big problem. The long network of underground tunnels is one of the greatest constructions built by the Viet Cong force as a place for hiding and shelter. This trip surely gives you a better insight into how the soldiers lived in such narrow space, as well as a wonderful chance to see old weapons, try hand at firing a fun, and especially eat manioc – the main food for Viet Cong guerillas during the war. Actually, the system of Cu Chi Tunnels can be accessible by 2 entrance sites, namely Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. You are able to visit one of these sites, based on how much time you want to spend.
Cao Dai Temple
Generally, many travel tours will combine the trip to Cu Chi Tunnels with a short visit to Cao Dai temple in just one day. And I think this is an impeccable mix because these destinations are on the convenient route. Perhaps Cao Dai may be an unfamiliar and bizarre religion to some people. What makes the region special is that it is an amalgamation of Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism, and even Islam with the beliefs of different theological ideals. From the outside, the temple’s unique architecture can be a draw, which bears some resemblance to Catholic cathedrals. Both the exterior and interior of Cao Dai Temple are attractive with incorporating symbols, abstract background, different designs, and extraordinary decoration. Don’t miss the prayer session of Caodaists since this activity, for me, can be the valuable part of the Vietnam day tour.
My Tho – Ben Tre
If the heat and noisiness of the city is going to overwhelm you, then try a tranquil retreat in the Mekong area. Not far from Saigon, My Tho and Ben Tre are flawless enough to plan a one-day trip. Certainly, a lot of unforgettable memories are what you gain after the travel. While the scenic journey along the Express Trung Luong Highway provides you with a chance to take many breathtaking shots, a leisurely boat trip around the 4 islands (Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix and Tortoise) does broaden your view. Then, head to the lush orchards and sample the freshly picked fruits. If possible, don’t forget to buy different fruits from the farmers to your friends as gifts. They can be surprisingly cheap.
A journey to Ben Tre – home to coconut trees – inspires your interest with varieties of coconuts and how they can be turned into many different products, like oil, candies, doormats, baskets, handicraft souvenirs, etc. The travel is also incomplete without trying seasonal fruits, honey tea, crispy deep-fried gourami, as well as listening to the famous “Southern Vietnamese folk music.”
Cat Tien National Park
As a perfect stop for adventurous souls, Cat Tien National Park brings travelers an opportunity to stay close to nature at best. At a glance, the park is not only one of the UNESCO sites, but also home to a wide range of biodiversity, ranging from huge trees and lush vegetation to strange birds, insects and animals.
Many tours gladly plan a day trip to the park for those who have not much time to explore. In general, it takes about 3 hours to get there. So, you can end the journey and come back to the city too late. It is highly advisable to plan a minimum of one night in Cat Tien and learn what animals do when the sun goes down. So, which best activities to experience while in there? These include trekking to the forest and admiring the grandeur of the Tung tree, visiting Bear and Wildlife Rescue Center, biking around Nam Cat Tien village, going kayaking down Dong Nai river, checking in Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species center (Monkey island), experiencing a local farmstay, and so on.
Cai Be Floating Market
It is hard to convince others that you have traveled Melkong Delta without visiting at least one floating market. Close to Saigon, Tien Giang Province is where you can experience Cai Be floating market. Thus, don’t hesitate to add this place to your list of best day trips from Ho Chi Minh City. There is nothing greater than taking a boat through the peaceful waterways and then witnessing the lively lifestyle of the locals who live and even earning money on boats. It is worth noting that each boat is highlighted with a pole. It is popularly used to advertise what the wholesalers want to sell by hanging the goods on it.
There is much more to do here, apart from trading, such as taking a sampan ride through shady canals, cycling around a beautiful village, enjoying fruits in the orchard, dining on some Mekong specialties, etc.
So, let’s forget the hustle and bustle of Saigon, and then give you yourself a chance to explore some great landmarks in the vicinity of the city that we mentioned above.