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Thursday, 13th October 2016

The best excursions from Ho Chi Minh City

The bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is an incredible destination with loads of attractions to explore, but sometimes it’s nice to escape. There are a number of places within easy reach that can be discovered in a day or a little longer, if you have the time.

Cu Chi

Now almost merging with the outskirts of HCMC, Cu Chi was the centre of operations for the Viet Cong during the American War. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from above ground, as the forces gave themselves the added security of being subterranean. Explore the tunnels to understand how such a strategy helped to secure victory.

The Cu Chi tunnels are 21 miles from central HCMC.

Can Gio

This biosphere reserve has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an important mangrove forest. Among the creatures that call the wildlife sanctuary home are saltwater crocodiles, dugong and migratory shorebirds. Visiting the area, including the eco zone, beach and former guerrilla base, is best done with a guide who speaks Vietnamese.

Can Gio lies 38 miles away from HCMC.

Con Dao Islands

The Con Dao Islands may seem far from HCMC, but with a flight time of just 45 minutes and six services operating a day, the archipelago is certainly within reach. There are 16 islands to choose from, with stunning beaches and jungles packed with wildlife. Much of the area was designated a national park in the 1980s, therefore protecting the habitat for creatures, such as the green and hawksbill turtles, which nest on the islands.

145 miles from HCMC, but accessible by plane.

Vung Tau

Occupying a perfect position on a peninsular with the sea lapping at three sides, Vung Tau is a popular weekend destination for the people of HCMC. If you’d like to explore it at a quieter time then the rest of the week will suit you fine. It retains the wide boulevards and colonial architecture left behind by the French and has been used by the US and Soviet Union as army bases over the years.

You’ll find Vung Tau 60 miles out of HCMC.

Long Hai

Sometimes all you need is a beautiful beach and a temple to occupy you while you’re on holiday and that’s exactly what Long Hai offers. Think white sand beaches and a microclimate that means there’s less rain than in other areas of the region. If it was good enough for Emperor Bao Dai, then it’s good enough for us. He built a private residence in Long Hai for use when he needed to escape the stresses of ruling life.

Long Hai is a 61-mile drive from HCMC.

Related news stories:
Hanoi versus Ho Chi Minh City - which Vietnamese heavyweight is the best? (23rd October 2014)
A method to the madness of Saigon, or Ho chi Minh (11th May 2015)
Revolutionary tunnels below Ho Chi Minh City newly opened to the public (24th March 2015)
In focus: Vietnamese cuisine (24th September 2014)