Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the commercial and financial hub of Vietnam and its most popular tourist destination.
Saigon (official name is HCMC) is a sometimes dizzying mix of old and new, uniquely Asian and international architectural styles.
Older tree-lined streets have a vaguely French atmosphere, while the multi-storey buildings and office blocks show the city's modern heritage.
Known to most as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a city of contrasts. The pace of life is frenetic, and yet the wide boulevards and parks help the city retain an air of calm.
Classic French architecture competes for attention with brand new high-rise buildings. The port hosts vast tankers and cruise-liners while tiny sampans dart around them on the Saigon River.
1Ben Thanh MarketBen Thanh is the largest market in Ho Chi Minh City. Shopkeepers sell a wide variety of local and imported products ranging from garments and textiles to handicrafts, flowers, and vegetables. The market was built in 1913. The French-style building has a distinctive clock tower at its entrance.
2Saigon Post OfficeLocated next to Notre Dame is Saigon's French-styled post office. Built between 1886 and 1891, the ochre-colored building has a glass canopy, ceiling fans, and enormous wall maps of "Saigon et Ses Environs". At the far end of the arched building is a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh.
VINH LONG (Mekong Delta)
An hour further south from My Tho is the riverside town of Vinh Long.
The canal network and villages surrounding Vinh Long are more rural than those seen in My Tho, and are perhaps more representative of village life in the Mekong Delta.
The trip to Vinh Long takes about three hours from Ho Chi Minh City, with at least one hour spent on ferries crossing major tributaries.
The first ferry crossing is at Cai Be.
After the crossing, it is best to have a break from the drive by taking a scenic sampan cruise through the nearby waterways.
During the cruise one can see local cottage industries such as fishing, boat building, rice and fruit cultivation, and production of rice paper - a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. Local seafood specialties include a variety of fresh-water fish.
1Cai Be Floating MarketThis bustling river market runs from 5am to 5pm, but is best early in the morning. Wholesalers on large boats moor here, each specializing in one or more types of fruit or vegetables. Customers cruise the market in smaller boats and can easily find what they are looking for as the larger boats hang samples of their goods from tall wooden poles.
2Binh Hoa Phuoc IslandThe island of An Binh-Binh Hoa emerges from the middle of the Tien River, just opposite Vinh Long. The island covers 60 sq. km and has four villages: An Binh, Binh Hoa Phuoc, Hoa Ninh and Dong Phu. Its soil is fertile and ideal for rearing bonsai trees and tropical fruit. Several of the orchards are open to the public.
Can Tho (Mekong Delta)
Can Tho is the capital of a province of the same name and is located in the very heart of the Mekong Delta. This bustling city, the largest in the region has broad boulevards and an elegant waterfront which connects it to the rest of the Mekong Delta via a system of rivers and canals. A boat trip along these canals is the highlight of a trip to Can Tho. In addition a visit to the nearby floating market early in the morning is a must-see.
1Cai Rang Floating MarketCai Rang is the largest floating market in the Mekong Delta and the best time to view it is early morning when it is at its liveliest, though some vendors can still be seen up until noon. Unlike the floating markets you may have seen in Thailand, where small wooden boats thread narrow canals, most floating markets here are on the banks of wide stretches of river and the Cai Rang market is no exception.
Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc is an island with fantastic beaches, unspoiled forests and a flourishing marine life in transparent blue green waters.
Phu Quoc Island lies in the Gulf of Thailand, 15km south of the Cambodian coast.
The best time of year to visit is from November through April (dry season). Rainy season is from June to October
1White Sandy BeachFirst-time visitors to Phu Quoc are often surprised at its sugary-white beaches and crystal-clear water. The most spectacular beaches are along the western coast and southern tip of the island. Not far from the main town there are private beaches with cozy hideaways that are perfect for the family holiday.
2An Thoi Islands and Hon Thom Fishing VillageOff the southern tip of the main island (30 minutes by boat from An Thoi), the 15 islands of An Thoi abound with scenic beaches, azure waters, colorful coral reefs and colonies of fish. Several of the islands are uninhabited and pristine whilst on some of the others a host of leisure activities awaits you including swimming, snorkeling and fishing. Don't fail to stop at a fishing village in Hon Thom to see the locals' daily chores and experience their friendliness.