Within the Can Gio Mangrove Reserve, Vam Sat Salt-Marsh Forest Ecological Tourist Zone is located within a section of forest between the Vam Sat and Long Tau Rivers that was destroyed during the Vietnam War, now regrown and protected as a wilderness park. Visitors here can explore Bat Swamp to fish for crab or spot for flying foxes hanging from the tree branches, and there’s a crocodile farm where you can take a boat tour and toss fish treats to the hungry reptiles. A 50-foot-tall wildlife observation tower offers a great vantage point for birdwatching or taking panoramic pictures of the marsh wilderness, and at Monkey Island you can stroll island trails among thousands of monkeys.
You can get first-hand experience with authentic Vietnamese cooking at the Vietnam Cookery Center. Started in 1999, it is the country’s first professional cooking center offering lessons to both tourists and professional chefs, and it’s located in a French Colonial-era building on Dong Khoi, at the heart of the city. Morning classes start with a visit to the open-air Ben Thanh Market with the chef-instructor to learn about local produce and help select the ingredients for the day’s menu. The cooking lessons take about 3 hours, during which you can learn to create classic Vietnamese dishes like fresh spring rolls, caramel pork in a clay pot, lotus-stem salad, and much more, and then you can sit down with your classmates to share the meal you created together.
There are many Cao Dai temples around southern Vietnam but none that compare to this. This stunning example is the most impressive in all senses. Built over a 20-year period and completed in 1956, it is the original...and the best.
Like the Cao Dai religion itself, the building's architecture marries eastern and western influences. The temple is part-cathedral, part-pagoda, part-mosque, and part-fairytale. Unusual pastel colors are embellished with gold and polished glass, and outside the building is guarded by ornate brightly-colored dragons that are as much fantasy as fearsome. The interior is equally if not more striking than outside. Swirling Rococo design is complemented by various statues of gods - Jesus Christ, Brahman, Buddha - standing side by side; a vision of peaceful harmony in a once war-torn area.
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is a sophisticated city of more than seven million people, making it the largest city in Vietnam.
Larger cruise ships will dock at Phu My, a port on the South China Sea, about 2.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City. Smaller and mid-size ships that are able to navigate the Saigon River dock much closer to the city. Many ships will provide shuttles from either port into the centre of the city.
Kick off your day with a visit to Reunification Hall, once the presidential palace of South Vietnam. Take a tour of this somewhat eerie building that has been left mostly untouched since the 1960s. From there, move on to the War Remnants Museum, whose moving and sometimes disturbing exhibits share the story of the Vietnam War from a distinctly Communist perspective.
Next, head to the Ben Thanh Market, a bustling market that dates back to 1914. Scan the stalls for paintings, porcelain and jewelry before grabbing a late lunch.
The 2,700-mile-long Mighty Mekong is the 12th-longest river in the world and the main artery of Southeast Asia. Its flowing waters are the beating pulse for a region that includes the fertile delta in Ho Chi Minh City, the scenic hills of Laos, the thick forests in Thailand and Cambodia and even the Yunnan province of China and the Tibetan Plateau.
The Mekong River serves as a hub for life in Southeast Asia, and it’s home to some of the region’s most unique biodiversity. Farmers grow exotic fruits along the lush shores; fishermen cast handmade nets in search of the day’s catch; and bustling communities come to life each morning along the banks of this massive river. A trip along the Mekong River provides travelers with a quiet break from the electricity of city streets, while still granting easy—and scenic—access to some of Southeast Asia’s most-popular cities, including Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
The Mekong Delta covers an area of approximately 15,000 square miles (40,000 square kilometers) to the west of Ho Chi Minh City.The Mekong Delta is where the mighty Mekong river completes its 2,700 mile (4,300 km) journey from the Tibetan plateau and empties its riches into the South China Sea.This is an area of lush, tropical and fertile lands. It is often referred to as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam due its huge production of rice crop. Vegetables, exotic fruits (coconuts, mangoes, rambutan) and fishing also feature prominently here. Life in the delta revolves around the river, and as such this is the only real way to view and understand it. See its many waterways, communities and cottage industries that are so vital to the way of living here including the thriving local floating markets.
The area is rich in lush green vegetation and the pace of life is relaxing, the setting natural and serene. This makes for a great break away from the hustle of the city.
Mui Ne is a beautiful stretch of beach that started as a far-flung escape for backpacker types in the 1990s, but has now evolved into a string of upscale and boutique beach resorts. The area is geographically blessed with sand dunes that stave off the monsoon rains of nearby Phan Thiet and for much of the year—especially October through April—strong onshore winds make it a Mecca for wind and kite surfers. The beach resort section of Mui Ne runs along a 10-mile stretch of Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, with resort on the beach side of the street, shops and restaurants on the other. The actual town of Mui Ne occupies a headland at the eastern end of the beach. Besides watersports, one of Mui Ne’s top attractions are the red and white sand dunes that you can see independently on foot, or as part of a jeep tour. The Fairy Stream runs through the dunes, creating red rock formations that can be explored by wading upstream along the shallow creek.
With nearly 70 floors, this towering modern glass and metal structure is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City and the third tallest in Vietnam. While the majority of Bitexco Financial Tower is dedicated business and commercial use, it’s also home to the city’ first heli-pad, a world-class restaurant and an observation deck that offers up some of the most impressive views of the city.
Travelers can purchase tickets to the skydeck, or hop aboard the high-speed elevator to the 50th and 52nd floor, where a bar and coffee shop showcase 360-degree spectacular views of city streets, rivers, and Ho Chi Minh architecture—free of charge—to those willing to buy a beverage as they relax and unwind.
Travelers can enter into this charming 19th-century Chinese-style Buddhist pagoda via an ornate gatehouse, which leads the way to an impressive courtyard and several altars that make up one of Ho Chi Minh’s most popular pagodas.
Visitors will find brilliantly colored artwork that pays homage to Thien Hau and Manjusri decorating the altars and hallways of Quan Am. And while travelers agree the traditional pagoda is the main attraction, a nearby garden complete with quiet reflecting pond, rocky landscapes and a covered pavilion offers an equally impressive opportunity to explore.
Perhaps the most entertaining rainy day attraction on Phu Quoc, a tropical island five miles off coastal Cambodia, is the Coi Nguon Museum—the five-story building serves as a natural history and history museum with noteworthy add-ons such as a gift shop, several restaurants, a Buddha shrine and even its own vat for making Vietnam’s popular fish sauce. More than 5,000 artifacts, comprise its collections, which include fossilized wood, turtle shells, sea shells, animal bones, relics from a nearby shipwreck, displays on Vietnamese medicines and historical artifacts including Stone Age implements and 17th-19th century pottery. There is a small section devoted to the Island’s storied history as a French colonial, and later, an American prison housing some 40,000 VC prisoners. There is also an entire floor dedicated to the lives of Phu Quoc’s present-day residents./p>