Ho Chi Minh City is an excellent base location for one-day trips in South Vietnam. We went for two such trips – Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta.
Day 1 – Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple
We booked this trip online through Get Your Guide. The pickup point was in HCMC District 1 like most day trips from HCMC.
The first stop was the Cao Dai temple where the religion of Caodaism was founded. This religion started in Vietnam as recently as 1926. It combines teachings from some of the major religions of the region – Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.
You can also find Jesus and some Hindu Gods sculpted inside the temple halls.
We got to witness their prayer session in the afternoon where dozens of people congregated to chant the hymns. It was certainly a unique experience – it felt more like a cult than a religion – which got us thinking how every religion was a cult to start with!
The best part of the trip was our next stop at the Cu Chi tunnels. There are two sections of the tunnels which have been opened up to visitors – Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. The first one is more touristy, and some parts of the tunnels have been widened for people to fit through easily. Ben Duoc would give you a better perspective on history as it is mostly preserved as is. We were lucky that our tour had the Ben Duoc section.
We spent almost 2 hours walking around the dense jungle and crawling through the tunnels. If you wish to understand how it was for the people here during the Vietnam war, this will give you a better sense than any museum. The entrances to the tunnels were concealed in the ground with mud and leaves. The tunnels were tiny and dark with spiders and bats lurking in the corners. It is a claustrophobic person’s nightmare. It is mind boggling to imagine how the Vietnamese fighters lived in these jungles and tunnels for years at a stretch – with imminent threat to life!
The tunnels are a must-visit if you are in Vietnam and especially HCMC. If you get a choice on which tunnels to visit, go for Ben Duoc without a doubt.
As we reached HCMC, our tour guide, Tram, suggested we should check out the football match screening at the Ho Chi Minh Square – it was totally worth it!
Day 2 – Mekong Delta
The next day, we went on a day trip to the might Mekong Delta. We booked it online again, this time on Klook. The tour agency((TNK Travel) was however the same – and we were more than happy as their service was really good and so were their tour guides. Our guide on this trip, Tam, was especially enthusiastic – he even sang many folk songs for the group!
The Mekong is the 12th longest river in the world and it originates in Tibet and runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and finally drains into the South China Sea through the extensive delta system in Vietnam.
The drive from HCMC to the town of My Tho in the delta takes about 2 hours. This trip is perfect if you want to explore the country-side of southern Vietnam. Our first stop was the Vinh Trang Pagoda where we met the giant statues of the laughing Buddha, Amitava and the reclining Buddha.
We were then taken on boats to an island for a simple Vietnamese lunch. We enjoyed some fresh Pomelo juice picked right from the gardens around us.
We then visited a coconut candy factory and had snake wine (it also had scorpions, lizards and spiders!). Not for the faint-hearted!
This was followed by the much-awaited boat ride through the narrow canals of the Mekong.
The final segment was a traditional song performance accompanied with honey tea and more fruits.
It was a day filled with culture, food and fun! If you have an extra day, you can visit the floating markets at Can Tho.
Read more about our trip through Vietnam in our blogs here. If you liked this one, do drop a comment below to share your thoughts. You can also catch all our latest stories on Instagram at @fridgemagment.tales.