South Vietnam Travel Tips + Photos

What I did in southern Vietnam:
1. Food and City tour in Ho Chi Minh City – Click here to read more
2. Cu Chi Tunnels + Cooking at an Organic Farm – Click here to read more
3. Floating down the Mekong River + visiting Vietnamese villages – Click here to read more 

Click here to see my photos of Southern Vietnam.

I also visited Central Vietnam on this trip, which I absolutely loved.
Click here to see my photos and read about Central Vietnam by clicking here.

Ho Chi Minh City

Downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Click on image to enlarge.

My impression of Ho Chi Minh City:
I did not find a lot of reason for a long-term stay in HCMC. It is a big, busy, business-oriented city. Like many big cities in Asia, it has more concrete than charm. However, I did find that HCMC did make a good base for day trips. I recommend spending 3-5 days in HCMC and using it as a base to explore the more interesting the areas outside of the city.

Ho Chi Min City Travel Tip:
The very first thing you should do when you arrive in HCMC is a food+city tour. I mean, who does not love touring a city while eating?! Food tours are a great way to see a fair bit of a city and eat some delicious local food at the same time. Food tour companies source hygienic food stalls and restaurants and remove the risks typically associated with street foods and local restaurants in developing countries. I have done food tours in many countries and have never been sick.

And what made this food tour especially fantastic is that I did it one evening on the back of a motorbike! I sat in the back of a motorbike, which was driven by a local, and went around the city, sampling food in different neighbourhoods. It was thrilling to be sitting on the back of a motorbike, zipping along during rush hour among the locals on a beautiful, warm evening.  It was absolutely awesome and I highly recommend it. I tried a bunch of things from the usual fares like pho (Vietnamese soup), spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee, to more interesting things like duck embryo, BBQ goat and grilled frogs! If you are interested, send me an email and I can send you the name of the company I toured with.

You can read more about my food adventure by clicking here.

Ho Chi Min City Travel Tip: Because HCMC is a busy, chaotic city, get yourself a nice hotel. There are many very good hotels in HCMC. I highly recommend that you get a hotel with a rooftop pool and bar as Southern Vietnam is often hot. A dip in the pool or a cocktail after touring all day is a sensible way to treat yourself while in HCMC.

Cu Chi Tunnels + Cooking at an Organic Farm

I did a 1-day tour of Cu Chi Tunnels and combined that with a cooking class at an organic farm outside of HCMC.

What are Cu Chi Tunnels?
Cu Chi Tunnels are a large network of underground tunnels that Viet Cong soldiers used as hiding spots during the Vietnam War. The tunnels provide a fascinating view of life for soldiers during the war. You can actually go down and explore the tunnels, which is highly claustrophobic but an incredibly fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the soldiers.

Travel Tip: I strongly recommend that you combine another tour/activity with Cu Chi Tunnels. I found there were tonnes of traffic going towards Cu Chi Tunnels and especially on the way back. It makes a for a long day if you’re just driving there and back for Cu Chi Tunnels. So it more worthwhile to go there if you combine with another activity, like a cooking class at a farm outside of HCMC.

Click on image to enlarge.

Mekong River + Vietnamese Villages

Click image to enlarge.

What I did: I went a full day, small-group Mekong Delta tour. We took a speedboat down the Mekong River and visited small villages, a small-town market, ate some great Vietnamese food and visited a Cao Dai temple.

Should you do a one-day or multiple-day tour on the Mekong River? I know some people who did a several day Mekong Delta tour where they slept on boats, which I think could be fun if you have time to spare. I personally think that there is so much to see and do in Vietnam that spending days on the Mekong would not be worth it. I also think it can get a bit boring to see the same scenery over and over again. But a day trip was a perfect way to get out of HCMC, float on the Mekong and visit the countryside.

Click on image to enlarge

Why the Mekong is special: Mekong Delta is known as the ‘bread basket’ of Vietnam and provides food, work and shelter for many Vietnamese people. It is also a biological wonder. Over 1000 species of flora and fauna live here, including some newly discovered species such as the Laotian Rock Rat which was previously thought to be extinct. During the tour, we walked around a small village, seeing local life like the one pictured on the left, which was one of the highlights of the Mekong Delta tour. Other highlights were learning about Cao Dai religion and going to a small-town market. See below.

Cao Dai Religion: Another highlight of the Mekong Delta tour was visiting a Cao Dai temple and learning about the Cao Dai religion. This is a monotheistic religion, which was founded in southern Vietnam and combines elements from major religions of the world. There are over 4 million followers around the world!

Did you know about the Coconut Religion? A now-banned religion that originated in Vietnam where you were allowed to eat only coconuts and drink only coconut milk. And the ‘monks’ of the religion could have 9 wives!

Fresh frogs, anyone?!
Also quite interesting was visiting a local market where they sell among other, ahem, delicacies, fresh frogs. Fresh frogs for dinner, anyone?! I tried BBQ frog meat and well, it tasted like chicken but more bones!
You can read more about my food adventures in Vietnam by clicking here.

My Southern Vietnam Photos
Related Travel Guide
  • Best foods in Vietnam are street foods or in restaurants run by family members. The problem is how do you know if the food is safe to eat? Read on to find out. ...

  • Ho Chi Minh City is a big, busy, business-oriented city. However it does make a good base for day trips. I did 3 different day trips from HCMC: City + Food tour, Cooking class + Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta cruise + Village visit. Continue reading for more details on Southern Vietnam. ...

  • Central Vietnam contains many of the country’s cultural and historical sites which beautifully showcases its ancient, and often complex, history. Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue (pronounced ‘hway’) are Vietnam’s most popular cities in Central Vietnam. Read on to find out where to go, what to do and travel tips for Central Vietnam....

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