SOUTHERN VIETNAM TOUR
The Southern Vietnam tour definitely does not follow the classic tourist circuits, but instead it partly meets the social imaginary nourished by the images of the Vietnam War. A new itinerary that crosses some of the areas involved in the military conflict and takes you into the authentic, less known Vietnam, off the beaten track, to discover the astonishing natural beauty less explored.
Stroll through Saigon, the former cosmopolitan capital of the French Colony and later renamed Ho Chi Minh after its leader, and explore Cu Chi, the network of underground tunnels that ensured the survival of many people during the war.
Visit the Mekong Delta, known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam, and cruise along the river among the water villages and the colourful floating markets of Ben Tre, Cai Rang and Nga Nam to observe the local lifestyle.
Immerse yourself in the beautiful natural surroundings of U Minh Thuong Nature Park and the impressive Cajuput Forest. Visit Xeo Quyt, the military headquarters of the Viet Cong.
This suggested itinerary can be customised according to your travel needs as well as combined with other routes.
Length : 10D 9N
From : SAIGON
To : SAIGON
Destinations : Saigon, Tay Ninh, Ben Tre, Tra Ninh, Soc Trang, Nga Nam, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Nam Can, Dat Mui, U Minh Thuong, Can Tho, Cai Rang, Chau Doc, Tra Su, Xeo Quyt, Sa Dec, Cai Be
01. ARRIVE IN SAIGON - CITY TOUR
Reunification Convention Hall
Welcome meeting by our staff at the airport and transfer to the hotel.
In the afternoon we visit Saigon, the former Royal Prey Nokor capital at the time of the Khmer Kingdom, later capital of the French Colony, or Cochinchina, as well as of the Independent Republic of South Vietnam until 1976 when it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City by the homonymous leader.
Among the main highlights we visit the Post Office, built in the 19th century with Renaissance and Gothic influences, Notre Dame Cathedral built during the French colony, and the Thien Hau Pagoda, an excellent example of the Chinese architecture dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea.
We end the day with a visit to the War Museum, a permanent exhibition of the atrocities of the Vietnam War.
Included : Hotel, tour guide, tickets and private transportation
02. TOA THANH TEMPLE - CU CHI TUNNEL
Toa Thanh temple
Morning transfer to Tay Ninh to visit the Toa Thanh Temple, also known as ‘The Divine Temple‘, the largest religious structure of the Caodaist movement, the syncretic religion founded in 1926 as a fusion of the principles of different Western and Eastern doctrines.
The style of architecture is striking, combining two bell towers and a dome with brightly coloured Chinese pagoda roofs. In addition to the main temple, the complex includes a hospital, dormitories, secondary temples and schools.
In the afternoon we visit Cu Chi tunnels, the famous underground network of tunnels that has played a crucial role in the survival of many people. The first works date back to the 1940s, when the Vietnamese began digging tunnels to escape compulsory conscription, French attacks and to keep in touch between villages. In the 1960s, the Viet Cong extended the tunnels to over 250km and since then they have become legendary during the Vietnam War.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation
03. DELTA MEKONG - BEN TRE
Our journey moves on to Vietnam’s southern provinces to the Mekong Delta. For thousands of years, it has played an important role, initially in trade due to its advantageous geographical position on the sea route between India and China, and today above all in the economic field, to the point that it has been named the “rice bowl of Vietnam“.
Upon arrival in Ben Tre, we visit the rural areas to learn about the daily activities that are still carried out following ancient traditions. Fishing and agriculture are without doubt the key sectors in this area. Along the way, we stop to observe some production processes that give us an insight into the lifestyle of the Mekong people.
We also stop to see a kiln used for traditional brick firing, a workshop for processing coconut and other derivative products and a weaving house where straw mats are still made by hand.
We board a sampan, the traditional wooden boat, through the narrow inlets of the Delta and dock in a village to visit a local house and taste the delicious South Vietnamese cuisine.
In the afternoon we continue cruising the canals for a special visit to the home of Mr. Khanh, a passionate collector of antiques and very special artefacts relating to the history of Vietnam, as well as original family photos from the French colonial period.
Afterwards transfer to a local homestay.
Included : Homestay, breakfast, tour guide, tickets, boats, lunch and private transportation
04. AO BA OM PARK – SOC TRANG
After breakfast we explore Ben Tre by bicycle (or on foot) to immerse ourselves in the daily lifestyle of the Delta.
We continue to Tra Vinh to visit Ao Ba Om Park, the rectangular basin surrounded by a beautiful landscape of centuries-old trees, whose name is inspired by an ancient legend dating back over 1000 years. Nearby we visit the Chua Ang temple, the oldest Khmer shrine in Vietnam, built in the 10th century when this area belonged to the Khmer Kingdom.
We then go on to Soc Trang, also known as “silver depository “, because it was where the Khmer king’s silver treasury was located. We visit the Buddhist temples Chua Doi and Chua Dat Set, and the Kh’leang pagoda where hundreds of novice monks come from different provinces of the Mekong Delta to study at Soc Trang College.
Afterwards, transfer and check-in at the local hotel.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, lunch, tickets and private transportation
05. NGA NAM MARKET – BAC LIEU – CA MAU
At 60 km from Soc Trang there is the floating market of Nga Nam, one of the most interesting and important markets in the Mekong Delta due to its unique position. It is located at the intersection of 5 river branches flowing to different directions, making it a major commercial hub that attracts hundreds of traders with boats of different sizes. The spectacular setting gets even more vibrant during the Lunar New Year days.
Just like all the markets in the Delta, the best time to go is definitely at dawn. We therefore leave Soc Trang at 5am to arrive on time for what will certainly be one of the most memorable moments of the trip.
Afterwards we head to Bac Lieu to visit the Tac Say Church and Cong Tu Bac Residence. We continue to the Dien Hai Bac Lieu Salt Pans, the largest in Vietnam, covering over 2,300 hectares with an annual production of 250,000 tonnes of salt. The fields are square and spread out evenly giving, without doubt, excellent photographic inspiration.
After this, transfer to the hotel in Ca Mau.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, lunch, tickets, and private transportation
06. MUI CA MAO PARK – DAT MUI
After breakfast we continue our journey to Nam Can, the southernmost town in Vietnam, about 50 km from Ca Mau.
On board a small boat, we sail south along the Cua Lon, Ong Trang and Rach Tau rivers to reach the southernmost tip of Vietnam, at the mouth of one of the branches of the Mekong that flows into the South China Sea: an unconventional area off the beaten track.
This area is part of the Mui Ca Mao National Park established in 2003, the second largest mangrove ecosystem in the world.
After stopping for lunch in Dat Mui we visit the small town of Nam Can and return to the hotel in Ca Mau.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, lunch, boats, tickets, tour guide and transportations
07. U MINH THUONG – CAN THO
U Minh Thuong National Park © Mongnt, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
After breakfast we continue to U Minh Thuong National Park, considered to be the richest in the Mekong Delta in terms of plant and wildlife biodiversity.
We spend most of the day visiting the park along the canals, which covers an area of about 80 square kilometres and is home to 243 species of plants, 32 species of mammals, 187 species of birds, including spot-billed pelicans and eagles, 39 species of amphibians and 34 species of fish.
Afterwards, transfer to Can Tho.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, lunch, tour guide, tickets, boats and private transportation
08. CAI RANG – BA CONG – CHAU DOC
Tra Su Mangrove forest
Our journey moves on to the famous Cai Rang Floating Market, one of the most picturesque in the Mekong Delta.
At dawn we embark at the Can Tho jetty and cruise through the crowded water bazaar, surrounded by boats of different sizes used by local traders. Exotic fruits, vegetables and flowers in huge quantities contribute to enhance this vibrant colourful scenery.
We then visit the Ba Cong orchard, the Bun Tao noodle workshop, the most famous in the province of Can Tho and the old Binh Thuy house, the setting for the famous film ‘L’Amant’, released in 1992.
In the afternoon we travel to Chau Doc, on the Cambodia-Vietnam border. We visit the Xu Pagoda and the Thoai Ngoc Hau temple.
On board a small boat we continue our excursion through the incredible Tra Su forest, the base of the revolutionaries during the Vietnam War.
Today it greets us in all its natural charm with the mangrove forest, the bamboo houses of the locals and the many species of wildlife including colourful birds, storks, bats, snakes and tortoises.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, boat, lunch, tickets and private transportation
09. XEO QUYT – SA DEC – CAI BE
Huynh Thuy residence
Morning boat trip on the Bassac River, a tributary of the Mekong, to visit fish farms and the Muslim Cham village.
We then continue to Xeo Quyt, a well-known Viet Cong base of operations during the Vietnam War. We hike in the forest to visit the underground bunkers from which Viet Cong generals directed war operations, located just 2-3km from the US military base.
For those interested in national parks, nearby we find Tram Chim, one of the most famous national parks in Vietnam, known for housing some rare bird species including the ‘Sarus Crane’.
In the afternoon we head to Sa Dec to visit the wonderful flower village Tan Qui Dong, where we admire hundreds of species of plants, bonsai trees and grown flowers.
Sa Dec was the largest town in the Mekong Delta until the 18th century and played an important role as a commercial hub for centuries. In the literary field the place became famous following the publication of the novel ‘The Lover’, a romantic story between the writer Marguerite Duras and Huynh Thuy Le, son of a wealthy Chinese family, owner of the ancient Huynh Thuy Le House, where the novel is set.
At the end of the visit, transfer to Cai Be.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, lunch, tickets and private transportation
10. CAI BE – SAIGON - DEPARTURE
Today we spend the last day of this exciting trip exploring the surroundings of Cai Be.
We reach Tan Phong Island by bicycle and continue by boat following the small canals to some local houses where we see the preparation of the famous “lotus flower tea” which we taste together with delicious local fruit.
Following this, transfer to Saigon airport in time for your departure flight.
Included : Breakfast, tour guide, boat and private transportation
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