How to Spend 8 Days in Southern Vietnam?
Planning to visit Southern Vietnam in 8 days? This article will provide a detailed itinerary for you. Southern Vietnam is such a wonderful place to visit. Travelers can explore the beauty of nature and the exciting activities during 8 days in Southern Vietnam.
- Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City one-day tour
- Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City-Cu Chi Tunnels-Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 3+4: Ho Chi Minh City-Can Tho-Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City - Phan Thiet
- Day 6+7: Exploring Phan Thiet
- Day 8: Phan Thiet-Ho Chi Minh City
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City one-day tour
Ho Chi Minh City is definitely a perfect destination to spend your first day in Southern Vietnam.
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
This city’s official name is named after uncle Ho, Vietnam’s greatest leader during the Vietnam War. It is also called Saigon by many locals. Ho Chi Minh is a combination of historic, cultural significance and a vibrant modern side. Spending one day in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be able to see the mark of the important history in the world in every street corner. Monuments and museums are the most popular places in the city to learn about the reunification period in Vietnam through historical artifacts.
Apart from seeing historical places, Ho Chi Minh City is also one of the most dynamic spots where you can see the cutting-edge buildings and enjoy the exciting nightlife. Like any other travel destination in Vietnam, one of the best things you can’t miss here is food. Street food in Southern Vietnam is one of the most amazing things about this country. One day in Ho Chi Minh City will be enough for you to enjoy some of the local delight as well as the bustling and vibrant of the city.
The detailed schedule for the first day
Notre Dame Cathedral is a symbol of Saigon
Morning: Have Vietnamese noodles (pho) for breakfast. Then visit Notre Dame Cathedral with the French colonial architecture and the War Remnants Museum where you can see all the artifacts about the Vietnam War.
Afternoon: First, you have different options for lunch. Either you can have broken rice (com tam) or crispy pancake (banh xeo). Both of them are delicious. Then you can visit Ben Thanh Market (one of the oldest markets in the city) to purchase souvenirs or go sightseeing (Saigon Opera House, Saigon Central Post Office).
Evening: If you want to enjoy some Vietnamese cultural performance, you can go to the Water Puppet Show where puppets are moved from under the water while folk music is played, presenting ancient tales or Vietnamese countryside. Another option for you is A O Show, presenting the beautiful picture of Vietnam from village to urbanization. Also, if you want to enjoy the exciting nightlife in Ho Chi Minh, go to the walking streets (Bui Vien and Nguyen Hue) where you can find a lot of travelers as well as locals along with bars and pubs.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City-Cu Chi Tunnels-Ho Chi Minh City
The Cu Chi Tunnels is about 55 km from Ho Chi Minh City. This is one of the most famous complexes of underground tunnels that you must visit when you spend 8 days in Southern Vietnam. This complex includes 120 km of underground tunnels with other facilities such as trapdoors, command centers, storage, kitchens, living areas, and even a hospital. It is a part of a war museum in Saigon which allows visitors to have a sneak-peak at the Vietnamese Soldiers' underground life during the Vietnam War against the French.
Cu Chi Tunnels were expanded after the war by the Vietnamese soldiers to help them survive the Chu Chi carpet-bombings. This place is one of the most iconic tourist attractions where visitors have a lot of activities to enjoy. Before entering the complex to follow the narrow routes of the underground tunnels, you should watch a short film about Chu Chi Tunnels to understand how the tunnel system works. Also, it helps you not to get lost underground.
The Cu Chi Tunnels is a complex of underground tunnels
The crawl parts of the tunnels are now made from cement and they have been widened so that they are less painful than they would have been during the war. You don’t have to worry about your safety when you are underground because there are emergency exits every 10 meters of the tunnels. However, if you have problems with breathing, you should not visit the 100-meter crawl through the underground tunnels.
To get to the Cu Chi Tunnels, you have several options. The first one is that you can take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi tunnels are one of the most popular destinations for tourists, so there are many buses to get there. The second option is that you can rent a motorbike from Ho Chi Minh. This option is suitable for those with wanderlust because, with a motorbike, you can be able to enjoy other things on the way there. The last option is that you can take a taxi. It is the most expensive option but you will have a pleasant ride and it is very convenient too. Make sure you have breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City before leaving, you can easily find a restaurant in Cu Chi District for lunch.
Day 3+4: Ho Chi Minh City-Can Tho-Ho Chi Minh City
Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta area. A visit to the Mekong Delta will be unforgettable for you because of the area’s diversity and uniqueness. You will be able to board on a long tail boat and explore the fish farms and exotic fruit farms. Or you can visit the paddy fields, orchards, and swamplands of the Mekong Delta.
You will need to spend 2 days of Southern Vietnam itinerary in Can Tho to experience the delta’s diversity, to enjoy its beautiful scenery, and to venture out to the Cai Rang floating market nearby, where you can experience the buzzing trading and bargaining as everyday life begins for the locals. Can Tho is 4 hours away from Ho Chi Minh, so you will need to leave early in the morning. You can get to Can Tho by bus or taxi, even by motorbike or boat.
The Mekong Delta area
The Mekong Delta is also well known for its fertility. It is said to be the rice basket of Vietnam and nearly 50% of the food in Vietnam comes from this area. Two-thirds of this place is the farm where locals grow rice, fruit, vegetables, and fish and then distribute to other areas over the country. Cruising on the streams of the river, you will be able to enjoy the vibrant colors at the riverbanks, taste the local specialties from the night local market with a lot of special dishes and goods. In addition to that, you can also enjoy folk music which is performed by the locals.
Enjoy your boat ride in the Mekong Delta area
After getting to Can Tho and checking into a hotel, you should go for a walk along the riverside. There are a lot of street foods and booths to buy knick-knacks here, especially in the evening. One of the most exciting things that you can experience while you are here is the boat ride. Enjoy a ride under the shadow of the water coconut trees to visit a family business. Another thing you cannot miss is to take a rowboat ride along the creeks. Those exciting things in the Mekong Delta area will fulfill your first day. After having dinner, you can go to bed early to get ready for a visit to Cai Rang Floating market the next day.
Cai Rang Floating market
Cai Rang is the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta which is just 6km from Can Tho. If you love to check in with a beautiful picture on your Facebook or Instagram, there is a bridge here that serves as a perfect point for photography. At about 5 am, all the boats filled with fruits and vegetables gathered in the area of 500 meters long to sell and trade their bounty. However, the market is the most crowded around 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., and you should get here early to beat the boatloads of tourists.
This is a wholesale market, and to know what the boat is selling, you need to watch for the long poles that advertise the items, and the sticks that the sellers use to pass items over. That will be an interesting and amazing experience. Also, if you still feel sleepy because of waking up so early, you can get a cheap cup of coffee from one of the boats here. You will be amazed at fruit being tossed around, people yelling, and many amazing photo ops.
Cai Rang floating market is a must-see place
Spend one day in this must-see destination in Can Tho will be enough. You can get a boat tour from the tourist office by the river or from a local boat lady where you can get a private boat to go down the canals. After leaving the floating market, you can go back to Ho Chi Minh City to get ready for your next trip. However, if you still want to stay, there is a good place to watch the sunset which is Xang Thoi Lake. Afterward, you should try the hot pot for dinner at the hotpot alley near the river. When you’re done, you can visit the night market, or get a late bus to go back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City - Phan Thiet
On the 5th day in Southern Vietnam, Phan Thiet is about 200 km from Ho Chi Minh City. It takes you 5-7 hours to get there by bus which is the cheapest option you can get. However, you can get other options as well. For example, you can go by train in about 4 hours or private transfer in 5 hours. If you decide to travel by bus, you can either choose the daytime bus or an overnight one. Of course, the overnight bus will be more pleasant because you get good sleep and of course, it is more expensive. However, if you prefer a nice sleep in the hotel room the night before and leave in the morning, the daytime bus is the best option.
Once you get there, check in your hotel, have lunch, and enjoy the beauty of Phan Thiet’s nature. The best attractions in Phan Thiet include geographical wonders, traditional fishing villages, beautiful beaches, verdant mountains, and ancient structures of the 9th century. Visiting Phan Thiet, you will have plenty of things to see and do during your holiday. That’s why one or two days is not enough to explore the city. Although Phan Thiet and Mui Ne are the busiest coastal towns in Southern Vietnam, they are still peaceful and ideal places to get a retreat from the bustling cities.
The Red and White Sand Dunes are the most famous attractions in Mui Ne
The Red and White Sand Dunes are the geological wonders that you should never miss out. They are the most famous attractions, also the popular picnic places for locals here. Visitors can have a great time riding ATVs or sliding down the slopes on rickety sleds. You can book a tour of these dunes or you can explore them by yourself. To do it on your own, you need to rent plastic sleds first. Make sure to check the price and agree on it before you rent. You can also enjoy other interesting things such as kite flying or catching the beautiful sunset here.
Compared to the Red Sand Dunes, the White ones are much larger. There are some pine trees if you need shade and a few stands if you need food and drinks here. These places are also perfect to take gorgeous snapshots. However, there are many more amazing things to do in this beautiful place. So make sure you have a delicious dinner and a good sleep to get full energy for the next few days!
Day 6+7: Exploring Phan Thiet
What is a better way to start a day than seeing the sunrise in Mui Ne Beach? Mui Ne Beach runs along the coast of this town which features 15 kilometers of sandy beaches, gentle waves along with luxurious beachfront resorts. There is a traditional fishing village at the northern end of the beach. You can get to the village by car, bicycle or motorcycle.
Visiting the fishing harbor at dawn, you will see local fishermen sorting out fresh seafood including crabs, scallops, squids, and stingrays. Although it still remains authentic, the growing number of visitors to Mui Ne Fishing Village has turned it into a busy place with several gift shops and some seafood restaurants. Having lunch here is a great option. You can easily find food carts and restaurants which are set along the beach to try traditional Vietnamese dishes like beef noodle soup (pho bo), Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi), Vietnamese pancake (banh xeo) and a lot of grilled seafood at affordable prices.
Travelers should visit the beautiful Mui Ne fishing village
If you want to enjoy recreational activities, head to the southern area and you can go swimming or play water sports such as kayaking, surfing, and kitesurfing. Because of its rock-free waters, kite surfing is a very popular activity here. It is easy for you to find retail outlets selling quality beachwear, clothes, and jewelry. You can also sign in for a short course or rent equipment for kite surfing here.
After having fun, there are plenty of options for your dinner. The beachfront restaurants here serve regional specialties and fresh seafood. There are also some expat-owned and resort restaurants that you can find regional dishes from around the world. Nightlife in Mui Ne Beach is fairly relaxed with some hotel bars and late-night restaurants, there are also hippy lounges set along the beach.
The next day, you can visit the Po Shanu Cham Towers which were constructed during the Champa Kingdom. This place includes 3 ancient worship towers dedicated to Hindu deities, they are Lord Shiva, Agni, and Nandi. Getting to the Towers, you will have a perfect spot to view Phan Thiet and the coastline. Additionally, you can find a fortress that was used by South Vietnamese and French troops near the towers. You can get to Po Shanu Cham Towers in 15 minutes from Mui Ne Town by bus and you need to pay VND 10,000 before entering.
Po Shanu Cham Towers is 15 minutes away from Mui Ne Town
Another destination that you should visit is the Fairy Stream. This is a beautiful landscape of different colors including red, white, orange, and pink. One side of Fairy Stream features a mix of white dunes and red ones. The other side is a field of coconut palms, verdant trees, and blossoming flowers. There are also some food stalls, bars, and restaurants here.
Day 8: Phan Thiet-Ho Chi Minh City
Before leaving this beautiful city, you should visit Phan Thiet Central Market to purchase souvenirs such as fermented fish dipping sauce, ceramic items, or coconut candies. The market is busiest at dawn, with huge crowds of vendors for fresh fruits, spices, nuts, meat, or household supplies. You can find everything here, from fresh and cheap seafood to authentic Vietnamese delicacies as well as souvenirs. Phan Thiet Central Market is also a must-visit for those who want to experience the daily lives of the locals although it can get rather humid in the summer. Having lunch in the market can be an option before transferring back to Ho Chi Minh City by bus or train and finish your long journey in Southern Vietnam.
We hope that with the details of this itinerary for 8 days in Southern Vietnam, you will have the best time to explore this beautiful part of the country.