I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel to places in Vietnam that other foreigners have rarely if ever seen. Traveling to these places offers a more realistic understanding of Vietnam in my opinion. Currently almost all tours will take you to the same attractions and the same tourist areas. I for one have been to almost all of them, and some, many times. I live in Vietnam and when I travel, I do not want to be herded through a factory or showroom full of other tourists to be funneled into a store where a person pressure to buy, or resentment for being put into the position of having to say no multiple times.
As I wrote in my last post, I am fortunate to have some very good friends that own and manage a major tour company. (You can find their information here) I have accompanied them to some places that are rarely visited by tourists but are hidden gems full of friendly people and natural wonders and beauty. Following in an Itinerary That I with the help of my friends have come up with:
Start with a Drive to Núi – Bà ?en (Black Virgin) – Mountain where a person can take a gondola to one of the largest mountain temples in South Vietnam. After a bobsled down the mountain, we continue to Chau Doc in An Giang province and visit a small Muslim village on the Mekong before checking into our hotel.
After breakfast take the short journey to Sam Mountain located on the Vietnam-Cambodia border and climb to the top past the ancient temples. At the top a person will enjoy a spectacular view of both Vietnam and Cambodia landscapes. The mountain is also still used as a defensive base. We will then board our vehicle and head into the most southern region of Kien Giang province. We will have a late lunch of local dishes and then board a boat to visit U Minh Thuong National Park, where we will see Giant bats, and other creatures native to the area. We will then overnight in a Nha Tro or a homestay.
We will return to U Minh Thuong National Park and explore another area. Brave souls can climb a small spiral staircase for a breathtaking view of the swamp like area. On the drive back to Saigon we will stop and explore the Cai Rang Floating Market near Con Tho before heading back to Saigon to end the first leg of the journey
Free time to rest up, do laundry, and do some of the local tours if a person wants.