TOP THINGS TO SEE IN SOUTH VIETNAM
Vietnam is a large country, which makes it difficult to visit its every corner within two to three weeks, especially if you plan to travel on a scooter or using public transport. Distances between major cities are often counted in hundreds of kilometers, and the quality of national roads slows down all types of vehicles. For example, a trip from Ha Tien to Ho Chi Minh by bus (a route of around 320 kilometers) takes around 13 hours!
For this reason, I recommend choosing which part of Vietnam would you like to visit: North or South? The choice is inasmuch difficult that both of these parts are equally interesting. They lie on different geographical latitudes, therefore have different climate. Besides, they differ in terms of economic, political or even culinary matters! Northern Vietnam is less developed, but more devoted to the culture. It offers beautiful landscapes arising among green mountains. South Vietnam, on the other hand, have numerous sandy beaches, rice fields and characteristic hot, subtropical climate. Due to the flights offers and the temperatures in November, we decided to go to South Vietnam and it was a good decision. Here’s why:
The South of Vietnam is known primarily for the lively Mekong delta and the fastest-growing modern metropolis, Ho Chi Minh, which has a population of over 6 million! The most beautiful time to admire both regions is the early morning, when the dew is still crossing the rice fields, and the heat does not bother so much. The Vietnamese are very hardworking and they like to get up at dawn, so do not expect deserted streets. What's more, the working week lasts seven days, so the rest is possible only on bank holidays, celebrated in Vietnam several times a year.
In tourist cities situation looks a bit different. The streets get crowded with the start of the season, unfortunately also with the increase in prices. Therefore, it is worth flying to Vietnam at the beginning of November, although there is still a risk of encountering the end of the rainy season. And what is worth seeing in southern Vietnam? Below are four most interesting places and attractions around them:
- CAN THO is the economic, political and cultural center of the Mekong Delta - Vietnam's largest river, merging into the sea through its nine legs called the nine dragons. The main attraction around the city is the floating market Cai Rang - the most interesting of all floating markets taking place in the Mekong Delta. You can purchase a one-day trip on the spot - it is worth asking about the booking possibilities at a nearby tourist center, or at a hostel / hotel (the cost is about USD 20). You must remember that it is necessary to set off before sunrise, because the biggest traffic on the river lasts until 8 am. From the market the boat takes you deeper into the intricate tributaries of the Mekong, densely surrounded by jungle, from which houses on stilts emerge from time to time. Apparently, you have to watch out for mosquitoes transferring tropical diseases that breed like crazy around the river, but we haven’t seen any all day.
In Can Tho, you can also try local delicacies at the city marketplace, held every afternoon around the main square, where a lot of booths with various dishes and snacks stand.
- HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – the largest city in Vietnam aspires to be called "the Asian Tiger", investing in the development of new technologies and gathering the richest inhabitants of this country. The metropolis is inhabited by over 6 million people, which causes a lot of traffic on the streets, full of motorbikes contaminating the air. What strikes tourists the most, immediately after arrival is the chaos on the streets. Crossing to the other side seems to be a great challenge for everyone. It is true that the Vietnamese do not care too much about traffic code, but after a while you start to notice that they actually drive slowly and carefully, although according to the bigger and stronger always goes first rule.
The richest and most modern district of Saigon is located near the main square and the city hall. It is here, where you can go to an artistic café, buy exclusive clothes, or rent a room in the most expensive hotels. The gap between this part of the city and the impoverished neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city is huge. In spite of everything, the society of different classes uses each other’s services, for example, stopping the limousine on the way to work to get Pho soup from a simple woman with a stand.The most important attractions of Ho Chi Minh City, which you must visit, are:
- The main post office - the building impresses with its construction and architecture.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral - Christian church built in the Neo-Romanesque style.
- The Remnants of War Museum - for people with strong nerves; because it’s quite shocking, detailing and illustrating the massacre committed by the Americans during the Vietnam War, entry: about 1 euro.
- Pagoda of the Jade Emperor - one of the most important temples in Saigon, crowds of worshipers light the incense here every day and pray, also to Buddha.
- MUI NE – this peninsula famous for its fish sauce is a popular holiday resort for both native and foreign guests. There are so many tourists here from Russia that the signs are in Russian. The main street stretches for several kilometers, reminding the Californian boulevard sometimes. In the off-season, the streets are empty, and the place does not look inviting. The difference make the year-round high waves that attract surfers and kite surfers. Deserted, wide beaches are an ideal place for lovers of these sports.
Mui Ne, however, is not just sunbathing. It is worth going on a trip to the nearby small canyon of red rocks, or on the white and red dunes, where you can take a jeep ride. It is best to ask about the up-to-date offer in one of the youth hostels - they usually have the best prices!
- PHU QUOC – is the largest of the Vietnamese islands and it can be reached by ferry from Rach Gia and Ha Tien. This once wild and uncommercial paradise, nowadays resembles a construction site, because vast scale resorts, other hotels and casinos are being built here. The government aspires to attract as many tourists as possible and counts on Phu Quoc becoming the next Phuket. It is a pity, because the growing tourism industry destroys the natural fauna and flora and pollutes the environment – only a profit matters, whatever the cost. In the south of the island there are still a few beautiful beaches creating a wonderful landscape, but you can only dream about these virgin, secluded ones. Despite this, Phu Quoc offers unforgettable views, the opportunity to admire the underwater world of the Thai Bay, as well as the truly holiday atmosphere ... especially in November!