Minh Tours - Excursions
No organized walking tours or marked self-guided tours available in Ho Chi Minh
but they can be organized privately by 1 of
the travel agents in the city. One possible route is around the
Notre Dame Town Hall, Post
Office, Cathedral, War
Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace
(time permitting). You can also easily walk through the shopping
districts of Le Loi and Dong Khoito Ben Thanh Market.
The walking is not extremely gruelling but the heat can make it
tough. Exotissimo (tel: (08) 825-1723) and Vidotour (tel: (08) 933
0457-469) will arrange personalised tours with a guide.
Saigontourist (tel: (08) 829-8914) provides half-day city tours from 8.00 am to 12 noon on a daily basis. Cost is
US$13, with hotel pick-up free of charge between Districts
1 and 3. These include the Historical Museum, Cholon (Thien Hau Pagoda and Binh
Tay Market), Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the lacquer ware factory.
Private city tours can be arranged through travel agencies,
such as Exotissimo (tel: (08) 825 1723) and Vidotour (tel: (08) 933
0457-469), with free hotel pick-up. The half-day tours are four hours and cost is US$18-30;
they include Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral,
the Reunification Palace and the Historical
Museum. The eight-hour full-day tour costs US$37 and includes Cholon (Thien Hau Pagoda and
Binh Tay Market) and the lacquer ware factory. Tour rates are per person with a minimum
of two people.
Boat tours are no longer available since the river
is very polluted due to frequent commercial activities, even though the
authorities are working to clean it up. However, Saigontourist (tel: (08) 829-8914) still provides evening cruises every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, which cost
US$20, last one hour and finish
at Binh Quoi Tourist Village for dinner with a show.
Excursions For a Half Day
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Chu Chi Tunnels, just one and a half hours drive from the city, were
dug by hand by the Vietnamese, to initially fight against the French
and then the USA. The tunnels were such a great hiding place that
the Americans continuously struggled against surprised attacks launched
from them. The network stretches for over 200 kilometres or 124 miles and there
are several layers of tunnels, housing kitchens, hospitals, and
living quarters. Some of the tunnels have been expanded to allow
foreign tourists to be able to stroll or crawl through them to get to know
how it was to live down there.
The Chu Chi Tunnels (tel: (08) 794-8820) are open every day from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm and admission VND65,000. Saigontourist (tel: (08) 829-8914) provides daily bus (coach) trips lasting 5
hours and costing US$24. Exotissimo (tel: (08) 825-1723) and Vidotour (tel: (08) 933
0457-469) can organize private tours; they charge
US$27 and US$31 respectively (per person
but with a minimum of 2 people). You can also reach the tunnels
by public bus from the Tay Ninh Bus Station (tel:
For a Whole Day
Cu Chi Tunnels and Tay Ninh
The trip to the tunnels can be mixed with the Cao Dai
Temple, at Tay Ninh, to make a whole-day excursion. 4
hour-long services are operated every day at 6.00 am, 12 noon, 6.00 pm and 12 midnight
in the Disneyesque temple, where
Cao Dai followers dressed up in brightly coloured robes present
a ceremony of a fusion of religions, which include Confucianism, Buddhism,
Islam and Christianity. Tay Ninh is approximately
150 minutes drive from Ho Chi Minh City.
Saigontourist (tel: (08) 829-8914) offers week-end (Saturday and Sunday) coach trips that last 10 hours and cost US$43. Exotissimo (tel: (08) 825-1723) and Vidotour (tel: (08) 933 0457-469) provide
private tours; cost is US$51 and US$44 respectively (per person
with a minimum of 2 people). The tunnels and Tay Ninh can also be accessible by public bus from
Tay Ninh Bus Station (tel: (08) 891 4923).
Vinh Long is 1 of the most fascinating towns in the Mekong
Delta which is easily accessible by car from Ho Chi Minh City (about 3
hours drive away). Life here rotates around the river and the best way
to see this is going on a boat trip through
the many canals, passing small boats that are home to entire
families. There are tiny villages on the riverside of the canals and
on small islands. Families eke a living from the river and the fertile
soil on its riverbanks. A high point of the tour is the floating
market at Cai Be that mostly sells fruit and vegetables
to customers out of their little boats. The boat trips always comprise
a side visit to a bonsai garden and a fruit
plantation, where buyers can sample citrus fruits right from
the fruit trees.
Saigontourist (tel: (08) 829-8914) arranges Saturday and Sunday coach trips lasting 10 hours and costing US$48. Exotissimo (tel: (08) 825-1723) and Vidotour (tel: (08)
933 0457-469) offer private tours that last 10 hours; they charge US$57 and US$54 respectively
(per person with a minimum of 2 people). A tour is recommended
as the public bus takes much too long for a day trip.
This beachfront resort is only 2 hours by car from the city and popular among city residents; however, the beaches are not the
best Vietnam has to offer. Saigontourist (tel: (08) 829-8914) and Vidotour (tel: (08) 933
0457-469) provide private tours for about US$46 (per person with a minimum of 2 people). To go to Vung Tau by hydrofoil is also possible.