Saigon and the Mekong

Saigon at night

We will work our way from the south to the north starting with The Mekong Delta:

The Mekong delta region 39,000 square kilometers of area where the Mekong river flows into the sea. There are many tributaries and small canals that make up the delta area. The Mekong region is where the majority of the rice crops are grown, there are also many fruit orchards in certain areas. The Mekong is a beautiful place to visit and it has become a popular destination. Most tours offer a trip to Cai Be or Cai Rang floating market, Boat trips to islands where you can experience the manufacture of rice paper or coconut candies. You will also get to enjoy some good food and beautiful scenery. There are also river cruises available from smaller 6 person boats, to a massive river cruise ship. A person can have a good Mekong experience on a 1 night stay, but longer trips are available. I found a 1 day trip was nice, but a

Around town

 little rushed, and 4 days was too long. Click here for more detailed

December to April is the best time to visit the south of Vietnam. There are short downpours during the wet season from May to November but they tend to only last a short time so you can still enjoy a visit during these months (just go for lunch when you see the black clouds developing). The Mekong Delta can experience severe flooding during this period making travel very difficult.

Next to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is home to some 9 million people. In spite of the city’s size it’s fairly straightforward deciding which part of the city

road near Saigon

to stay in. Travelers will most likely go to one of two areas: Dong Khoi which has mid-range accommodation or Pham Ngu Lao where you’ll find most of the budget accommodation in HCMC. There are Ho Chi Minh City Hotels to suit the requirements of all visitors ranging from backpacker hostels to 5-star hotels. One block of of Pham Ngu Lao ia Bui Vien St where I prefer to stay, there are many nice little bars and nightspots to quench your thirst after a busy day. You will be close some excellent shopping. Downtown you will find very high end stores selling name brands and expensive products. In sharp contrast, you will also witness street vendors selling cigarettes, books, and nick nacks.

Mekong river

 ( I have written about this in past blogs) Ben Thanh market will also be close by where you can hammer out some great deals if you have the mind.

 To visit the main tourist attractions you will need at least two full days. The main Things to See include the Hotel de Ville, the Reunification Palace, the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Jade Emperor Pagoda. If you’re quite adventurous it’s also

Making coconut candy

worthwhile taking a taxi to the Chinese district of Cho lon where you can visit a number of busy pagodas and street markets. Not many tourists head out this way so you may feel a little out of place but it’s worth doing just to observe life on the streets and provided you use your common sense there’s no reason to worry about heading off the beaten track. Once you’ve seen the main sights you’ll want to consider some Tours. The most popular is a half day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels where you can see part of the 200km network of tunnels which the Viet Cong used during the American War. You

A buffalo out of water

 can make this a full day tour by including a visit to the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh on the Cambodian border. This is the home of Caodaism, a Vietnamese religion which is a combination of other major religions

A caged Rooster

Traffic is a nightmare all over Ho Chi Minh City and the worst place must be the traffic circle outside the Ben Thanh Market. Your lasting memory of this city will be the sheer quantity of motorbikes on the roads and guess what … they never stop at a pedestrian crossing! Watch how the locals cross the road before you even attempt it. It’s simply a question of keeping moving slowly forward without making any sudden rash movements, this way any motorbikes will go around you. Generally it is hot averaging from 31 to 35 degrees year round and the rainy season in Saigon is from May to November similar to the Mekong. Again December till April is your best time to visit.

Now lets head into the country on an open tour bus……….

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Owee

Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

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