Ho Chi Minh is one of Vietnam’s most prominent cities, with skyscrapers and French colonial buildings wrapped by a chaotic network of roads. While there is much to see and do in this lively city, why not head out to nearby destinations to escape the beautiful madness?
1. Cu Chi Tunnels
The famous Cu Chi Tunnels played a pivotal role in the Vietnam War. They served as a mode of defence and refuge for the Viet Cong, who planned their attacks, attended to their sick, lived, wed and even gave birth here.
This extensive, 120km underground tunnel is now a war museum where you can actually get a glimpse into what life was like during the war.
35km from Ho Chi Minh City; 1 hour 15 minutes travelling time.
2. Cao Dai Temple
As Caodaists believe that all religions are the same, this unique temple honours a wide array of religious faiths – Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, animism and more. Don’t be surprised to see Joan of Arc and Victor Hugo honoured here too!
If you are interested in learning about this local religion, the Cao Dai Temple is worth a visit. The temple itself is quite impressive and embellished with ornate décor, with a central altar called “The Eye”. You might spot some worshippers about, dressed fully in white. It is not too far from Cu Chi Tunnels, so consider combining these in one trip.
85km from Ho Chi Minh City; 2 hours travelling time.
3. Mekong Delta
A world that floats above the water, and might trick you into thinking you are in another universe – this is the Mekong Delta. Spread across lush agricultural land and quiet waterways, the delta flourishes with gentle rice paddies, floating markets, Khmer pagodas and vibrant villages. Take a boat ride, put your bargaining skills to the test, and marvel at the authentic local life beyond Ho Chi Minh city.
70km to MyTho (gateway to Mekong Delta) from Ho Chi Minh City; over 100km if you go deeper into the region; 2 – 4 hours travelling time to the region.
4. My Tho
Most people come to My Tho to get to the Mekong Delta. Of course, this market town is beautiful in its own right. Wander down the quaint riverfront, watch the morning prayers at the Vinh Trang Pagoda, and get into the night rhythm at the My Tho market.
70km to My Tho from Ho Chi Minh City; 2 hours travelling time.
5. Ben Tre
The humble province Ben Tre shows a sleepier side of the Mekong Delta region. That said, there is still plenty to do here, such as visiting the orchards, stopping by a coconut candy factory, learning about birds at the Vam Ho Bird Garden, and admiring the magnificent river views. Some traditional dishes you must try here are the coconut rice and My Long rice paper.
70km to Ben Tre from Ho Chi Minh City; 20 minute ferry ride from My Tho.
6. Vung Tau
Beach lovers would be hard-pressed not to go to Vung Tau. Lined by a sandy coast, this seaside resort town boasts grand views of the peninsular, lively promenade and seafood. Vietnamese families love to come to Vung Tau for their weekend break, so if you want to avoid the crowd, head over on a weekday.
100km to Vung Tau from Ho Chi Minh City; 2 – 3 hours travelling time.