There are Ho Chi Minh City tours of the main sights within the city area but there isn’t really any need to take these as you can see most of the main sights on foot or by hiring a cyclo for a short time. In fact travelling around HCMC by coach would be a waste as you’d spend so much time in traffic jams whilst missing out on the ambience of old Saigon.
The number one day tour from HCMC is to the Cu Chi Tunnels which can be a half day when taken alone or can be extended into a full day if combined with a trip to Tay Ninh, home to the Great Temple of Caodaism. Another excursion well worth considering is a trip to the Mekong Delta which is on offer as a day trip but realistically you should take longer and maybe continue your journey on into Cambodia.
Cu Chi Tunnels Tours
On the full day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City you will leave around 8am for the 3 hour coach journey to Tay Ninh near the Cambodian border. The journey is only about 100km but progress is slow with heavy traffic in the city and poor roads out in the rural areas.
At midday tourists are welcome to watch a service at the Great Temple which is the chief place of worship of the Vietnamese religion of Caodaism which combines aspects of all the world’s other major religions. After lunch the coach heads back towards HCMC via the Cu Chi Tunnels where you can see part of the 200km network of tunnels which the Viet Cong (VC) used during the War.
These tunnels allowed VC controlled enclaves to communicate with one another whilst American and South Vietnamese troops controlled the land and air above during daylight hours. Surprise attacks were also amounted inside the US military base at Dong Du from the tunnels with the culprits disappearing underground without trace. This is a fascinating visit in which you can crawl through one of the tunnels, see some of the traps set up for jungle warfare and fire a rifle if you wish.
There is an option to take a half day tour which just goes to the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Mekong Delta Tours
For extended Ho Chi Minh City tours the Mekong Delta is the best choice. Can Tho lies some 4 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City by road and is the natural starting point for a visit to this region which produces about half of Vietnam’s total agricultural output.
The reason for its fertility is that silt builds up here from the upper Mekong River resulting in a rich and lush area dominated by rice fields. Life in the Mekong Delta revolves around the river and all the villages are accessible by water rather than by road. It is fascinating for the visitor to experience the sights and sounds of the many floating markets in the Mekong Delta where rice, and many unrecognisable tropical fruits and fresh fish are traded. Several companies offer Mekong Delta tours of varying lengths from one to five days. One day isn’t long enough to do the region justice so we’d recommend one overnight at the very least. Ideally you should spend three or four days here then continue your journey on into Cambodia.