Morning transfer to Phu Quoc Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transfered directly to the famous Cu Chi tunnels - an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels, over 250km in length and up to three levels deep in places, played a huge part in the Viet Cong’s victory over the Americans, allowing them to control a large rural area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.
Today, some of the remaining tunnels have been opened to tourists, offering a unique insight into what underground life must have been like during the ‘American’ war. Continue on to Ho Chi Minh City where the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is located near the Mekong Delta. It was originally Cambodian territory before being conquered by the Vietnamese in the 16th century and named Saigon. The city was then renamed once again, after the North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam in 1975, becoming Ho Chi Minh City (named after the North Vietnamese leader). The city centre is still adorned with wide elegant boulevards and historic French buildings. However, as the undoubted economic centre of Vietnam, high rise office towers are starting to take their place amongst this wonderful colonial architecture.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Additional tour ideas for Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon After Dark Vespa tour
In the early evening set off on an excursion with a difference, riding pillion on a Vespa for an amazing tour cum food experience. You’ll visit five different local cafes, coffee shops and restaurants across the city, sampling some of Saigon's best authentic street food. You’ll also be introduced to Ho Chi Minh’s City’s live music scene at a hidden café and local bar. This tour allows you to the experience the nightlife of Saigon the way locals do.
Visit the Cao Dai Holy See Temple
At Tay Ninh, approximately 90km north-west of Ho Chi Minh City, sits the huge cathedral-like Holy See Temple, home to the uniquely Vietnamese religion of Cao Daiism. The remarkable temple is wildly, almost garishly decorated with lavish symbols and paintings, and is truly a sight to behold. It’s essential to time your visit to coincide with the daily mid-day mass, a mesmerising and mysterious ceremony of prayer and chanting. Visitors are welcome into the temple, and ceremonies can be witnessed, and photographed, from the raised foyer.
Discover Ho Chi Minh City in its best light
Rise early and drive to Tao Dan Park to join the residents of Vietnam’s largest city taking early morning exercise before their working day. Activities include Tai Chi, badminton, jogging or simply walking and you are more than welcome to participate . After your exercise, an early morning stroll through Ben Thanh Market followed by coffee and Pho will ensure you have started your day in true Vietnamese style!
After breakfast, set off to tour some of Ho Chi Minh City’s highlights. Your guide will be happy to personalise your programme, but we particularly recommend certain sites; the Reunification Palace, formerly South Vietnam's Presidential Palace, was built in the 1960s and remains largely untouched since the day Saigon finally fell to North Vietnamese troops in 1975. Others offer visitors a sense of the region’s French Colonial past; Notre Dame Basilica was built in the late 1800s, and the pink neoclassic confection that is Saigon Central Post Office was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself.
To start your day, however, explore a side of Ho Chi Minh City that few tourists even know exists, let alone get to visit, by plunging into the heart of District 1’s maze of narrow alleyways.
District 1 is famous for impressive architecture like the Basilica, but beyond the neoclassical facades lie some of HCMC’s most densely populated wards, all thronging with daily life, along with significant history of its own.
Walk through the small back alleys and towards the local residential areas, with their bustling, colourful, aromatic markets, and a variety of small scale businesses that seem a world away from the city you have seen up until this point.
Stop to observe a Viet Cong secret weapons store, where undercover commandos of the Viet Cong’s North Vietnamese Army collected munitions before launching the Tết Offensive, on 30 January 1968, with the sound of Tết (New Year) firecrackers disguising the gunfire. Fighting continued for months in an episode that has been described as the ‘bloodiest’ phase in the Vietnam-American War, and which triggered much anti-war sentiment in America.
The weapon store, now recognised as a National Historical Site, went undetected for many years and played a key part in the VC's Saigon offensive. Much of the extensive weaponry kept there is still on display, and visitors can learn about the clever methods used to smuggle and conceal it.
Having visited a few of the aforementioned stately landmarks, continue to Cho Lon, which has been HCMC’s Chinatown since 1778. Taste the local favorite noodle dish for lunch, followed by a visit to Quan Am Pagoda, a Chinese style Buddhist pagoda built during the 19th century, with beautifully decorated interiors. As you explore Chinatown, you will see all manner of goods on sale, from dragon artwork, masks and pet fish, to sacks of rice, fabric and cooking utensils.
Leave Chinatown for newer developing areas, observing a visual feast of old and new architecture side by side, before a drive by what was once known as the 'Southern stomach' - specifically, the city’s largest rice market, founded by the Chinese in the 18th century.
Having thoroughly explored HCMC, finish the tour in fine style by heading up the Bitexco Tower, which is the city’s tallest building. Your guide will be happy to wait for a short while, whilst you enjoy a stylish sundowner with breath-taking skyline views; those wanting more time may choose to take a taxi back to their hotel at a later stage.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Your day is at leisure until your transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Airport for your onward flight.