The southern part of Vietnam has long lured travelers of all kinds due to its varied landscape – lush green hills, stunning beaches, massive waterways with floating markets and a bustling cosmopolitan city. If you only have a few days to spare in the country, exploring South Vietnam is such a good idea. Here, you can go trekking to the hills, relax at the beaches, go shopping at the floating market, or visit the various attractions in Ho Chi Minh. Below are some of the best places to check out when exploring South Vietnam.
1. Ho Chi Minh
As the largest city in Vietnam, there are just so many things in Ho Chi Minh that are waiting for you to discover. Just like with any modern city in Asia, you can expect for Ho Chi Minh to be chaotic with millions of motorbikes swirling around the streets every single day. Nevertheless, it’s home to several historical places such as the War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels, Independence Palace, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Ho Chi Minh is also dotted with quirky cafes and restaurants. If you’re craving for a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee, then check out some of the best cafes in the city. The city is also home to some of the country’s best restaurants and street food stalls serving a delicious bowl of Pho. If you want to shop for some affordable souvenirs to take home, check out the Ben Thanh Market.
2. The Mekong Delta
Known as the Rice Bowl of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is a maze of waterways that stretches from Ho Chi Minh towards the southwest and into the Gulf of Thailand. Cruising along the Mekong Delta will take you to discover the incredible views of nature and diverse wildlife. What’s great about exploring the Mekong is that the everyday scene that you’ll encounter is something that you may not have seen before.
As you explore the flatlands of the Mekong, you get to have a peek of life in the Vietnamese countryside. You’ll see kids happily riding the back of water buffalos and farmers tending their land. In the market, you’ll find vendors selling fresh produce, from fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.
3. Chau Doc
Chau Doc is a small city that borders Cambodia and the Mekong Delta, which is why it’s also known as the gateway to Cambodia. The village is very laid back and what makes it special is that it’s surrounded by the magnificent views of nature. Here, you can go hiking towards Nui Sam or the Sam Mountain or cruise along the U Minh Thượng National Park, a massive swamp with mangrove forest.
Not far from Chau Doc is the beautiful Tra Su Forest. If you love nature, then you’ll surely have a great time exploring this place. This forest used to be a plantation that has now been converted to a wildlife reserve. It’s home to a hundred different bird species, mangrove forest, lush green plants, and beautiful lotus flowers.
4. Phu Quoc Island
For stunning white sandy beaches, make sure you visit the island of Phu Quoc. This is the best place to relax, unwind, and simply enjoy the beauty of nature. Home to a number of luxury resorts, great bars, and restaurants, visiting Phu Quoc will surely make your trip to South Vietnam even more relaxing.
Take time to explore the many beaches on the island during your time there. In the South East, there’s Bai Sao and in the Northwest, there’s Ghan Dau. If you came from Chau Doc, take the bus heading to Ha Thienh, and from there, take a ferry going to Phu Quoc.
5. Con Dao Island
If you still have more time to spare in your trip to the south of Vietnam, head towards the beautiful island of Con Dao. This archipelago is one of the least developed places in Vietnam and a great place to explore if you want to venture off the beaten path. It’s home to some mountainous islands with lush green forest and stunning beaches. Located in the southern coast of Vietnam, Con Dao is about a 45-min, flight away from Ho Chi Minh.
When exploring Con Dao, you’ll come across a wide range of wildlife, including exotic animal species like the long-tailed macaque monkeys, hawksbill turtle, giant black squirrels, and more. The island also boasts an impressive ecosystem that consists of a sea grass meadow, mangrove, and coral reefs. If you’re up for some adventure, go for a hike and follow the trails all over the island. There are now a few resort hotels on the island and some affordable local homestays too. Schedule your visit between the months of March and June, when the weather is pleasant and the sea is calm.