Summer in Vietnam: The 5 Best Places to Vacation Near Saigon
Short Getaway Destinations Near Saigon
Summer is such a great time for walking on the beach and partaking in outdoor activities like camping and hiking. No one wants to stick around a crowded city like Saigon, but where should you go to escape? What should you do once you get there? And what if you only have a short time, say two or three days, to get away?
Don't worry; in this article, I will share five of the most interesting destinations near Saigon—a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh City—that can be visited in a short amount of time. You will also find useful tips to help you enjoy a fascinating summer vacation in Vietnam. It's time to pack up and go!
1. Vung Tau
Saigon in summer can be uncomfortable, with sweltering heat and frequent rain, so let's go to the sea and lie on the beach in Vung Tau!
Vung Tau is the best beachside destination near Saigon, hands down. A tourist hub of Southeastern Vietnam, Vung Tau is situated over a 140-square-kilometer peninsula separated from the mainland by a gulf river called the Co May River. Let's take a two-hour ride by motorbike or car on Highway No. 51A and enjoy this coastal city. Here's a quick at what to see and do in Vung Tau.
What to Do
Holidays and Festivals
What to Eat/Drink
Lễ hội Cá Ông (Whale Holiday)
Bathe in the sun and sea.
Nghinh Phong Cape
Stuff yourself with seafood.
World Food Festival Culture
Coffee (in a sea-view café)
2. The Mekong Delta: Tien Giang, My Tho and Ben Tre
Known as the Western Region, the Mekong Delta (literally "Nine Dragon River Delta") encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam, where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The region comprises 12 provinces and one province-level municipality (Can Tho).
This region has a tropical climate. The dry season runs from December to April and the monsoon season from May to November. While summer is not the best time to travel here due to heavy downpours, it is still a beautiful destination (as long as you don't mind getting a little wet!).
Sharing the ebb and flow of Mekong River system, Tien Giang and Ben Tre are two neighboring provinces connected by Rach Mieu Bridge on the Tien River (literally the "Front River"). Here are some places to see if you get the chance to visit the Mekong Delta.
Visiting My Tho
My Tho—the capital of Tien Giang—has several attractions that you can visit. Here are a few of my favorites:
- On the outskirts of My Tho is the ornate Chùa Vĩnh Tràng Buddhist temple. Built in the 19th century, this temple boasts an interesting style that mixes European and Asian architecture. There are also giant statues of Budai (the laughing Buddha) and lying Buddha outside.
- For those who wish to try tropical fruits, take a short boat ride to Thoi Son Island or sail farther up-river to Cai Be floating market.
- For those who are into archeology, visiting Go Thanh archeological site in Cho Gao District is a must. This place displays many unique findings of the ancient Oc Eo culture.
- For those who want to see snakes, check in at Dong Tam Snake Farm.
In addition to enjoying the sights of My Tho proper, tourists often take a tour to four nearby islands on the Tien River—Long (Dragon), Lan (Unicorn), Quy (Tortoise) and Phung (Phoenix). There, they can visit fruit gardens and learn how people in the Mekong Delta typically live.
What to Eat in Tien Giang
When it comes to what to eat in Tien Giang, it's impossible to forget banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) and hu tieu (a type of noodle). Though these dishes are now omnipresent in Ho Chi Minh City, they have a special taste in My Tho.
Visiting Ben Tre
Ben Tre, over the river from Tien Giang, is full of coconut jungles. Unsurprisingly, it is famous for being a significant producer of coconut candy (kẹo dừa), and in Ben Tre town, visitors can sample these sweets at local coconut candy factories.
The province is crisscrossed by a complex system of rivers and canals, so it's really fun to travel by boat or coracle. You can even sail to the Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary to learn about its native water-dwelling flora and fauna.
3. Can Tho
Also known as Little Saigon, Can Tho is a metropolis with a charming blend of old and new. Visitors can find the architectural styles typical of French colonialism and Chinese influence along with heaps of new, tall buildings scattered around town. Ninh Kieu Port, having long been busy, is now a tourist hub where visitors can hang out on a long, landscaped dock decorated with fascinating and futuristic structures.
After exploring the port, take a boat ride around the harbor for a nice view of the Can Tho stayed-cable bridge and the city at night, which looks as lively as Saigon. For those who wish to escape from such a crowded city, a visit to Binh Thuy Old House is the way to go.
Cai Rang Floating Market
Do not miss a chance to visit Cai Rang floating market, which has long been an excellent place to buy local fruits and flowers. You must wake up early in the morning to get here by boat because the market often finishes around noon. Bear in mind that the sun in summer is really hot, so a boat ride sometimes turns out to be uncomfortable as the sun reflects off the river.
4. Phu Quoc Island
Known as the Pearl Island of Vietnam, Phu Quoc has long been a popular tourist destination. You can fly here directly from Ho Chi Minh City or elsewhere abroad, or you can take a ride by speed-canoe to get there in three hours (~VND 300k/ticket).
Note: The island is undergoing a traumatic change in its infrastructure, with heaps of buildings and resorts being built. Despite such heavy construction, Phu Quoc still lures visitors with its white-sand beaches and turquoise seawater. Still in need of convincing? The seafood here is the best around!
5. Tay Ninh Province
Just a two-hour bus ride from Saigon on Highway 22 is Tay Ninh, a province belonging to the Southeastern region of Vietnam. When you come to Tay Ninh, you must visit Ba Den Mountain and Tay Ninh Holy See (a Caodaist temple) or go camping by Dau Tieng Reservoir or Ma Thien Lanh Valley. You can add Moc Bai International Border Gate to your check-in list as well. If you love nature, visit Lo Go-Xa Mat National Park, a nature reserve that is home to diverse tropical plants and wild animals.
This gorgeous area borders Cambodia to the west, Binh Phuoc Province to the north, Binh Duong Province to the East and Ho Chi Minh City and Long An Province to the South.
Where would you like to go this summer?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Nguyen Hong Phuc