The Cochinchina, the rice barn of Viet Nam, has always been the richest region and the less suffering one during the war. Although, it does not provide a lot of historical or nice landscapes as in the North and Centre, it is more tropical and warm region.
1. Ho Chi Minh city
Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city with 6 millions inhabitants and is considered as the economic capital of the country. It is a blend of Chinese, colonial and modern influences. The huge number of people, shops and stalls give Ho Chi Minh city, formerly called Sai Gon the Pearl of Orient, has a bustling and vital atmosphere.
There are over 500 pagodas in the South, including Giac Lam (one of the most ancient and interesting one about 7Km from the city centre), the Emperor of Jade and Vinh Nghiem, the most recent built pagoda. Other sites are the labyrinth of China town in Cho lon, the Ben Thanh covered market, the Temple of the Celestial Lady, the Colonial Quarters with the Cathedral, the Post Office, the City Hall and the Municipal Theatre, the ex-Catinat street and the Saigon river.
2. Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels, 75km north west of HCM city, is a 215km tunnel which started in the 1930’s as a series of underground shelters, where the revolutionary resistance fighters against the French lived. Later in the War against the Americans, the networks of tunnels were constructed, stretching as far as Sai gon river and the Cambodia border. They contained meeting halls, bed rooms for the guerrillas, food and weapons storage, area, kitchens and field hospitals.
Mekong Delta – A lifeline
In Viet Nam, the mighty Mekong divides into nine tributaries, which the Vietnamese call Cuu Long or “The Nine Dragons”. To understand life in the Mekong Delta you must float down its slow, shimmering waterways. Here, all life still depends on the river.
Not only in the river the source of all nourishment, but its also the marketplace. In Can Thos floating market youll find evidence of the Mekong Deltas rich rice crop, as well as the areas abundant fish, fruit and vegetables. And youll get a sense of the rivers role as a highway. It remains the deltas key link to the outside world.
The pace of life remains slow in the Mekong Delta, the daily routine little changed for centuries. As you drift down the small canals which criss-cross the area, modern life and its worries will seem a world away.
3. My Tho
My Tho, 70kms from Saigon offers beautiful riverside views and immense rice fields. A boat cruise on Mekong river to visit orchards on islands, coconut candy workshop, bee-keeping farm is an excellent trip.
4. Can Tho
Can Tho, the capital of the Mekong Delta, 170 km south of Saigon is famous for its floating market and for the Khmer pagoda. Visitors can take a boat cruise to visit the bustling floating market and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the riverbank orchards.
5. Soc Trang
Soc Trang, has a 28% Khmer population. The Khmer have built some very impressive temples. Special is the Bat pagoda – one of the most unusual sights of the Mekong delta. The Bat pagoda is a large monastery compound. There are literally thousands of these creatures hanging from the fruit trees. The largest bats weigh about 1kg and have a wing span of about 1.5m.
6. Ha Tien
Ha Tien, a small town on the Gulf of Thailand, 8km from Cambodian border. The area, famous for its nearby white sand beaches and fishing villages, is also known for its production of seafood, black pepper and items made from the shells of sea turtles. All around the area are lovely, towering limestone formations that give this place a very different appearance from the rest of the Mekong Delta region.
7. Chau Doc
Locate deep into the Mekong Delta, at the Three river crossing made by the Hau river. Once part of Cambodia, Chau Doc an attractive bustling riverside town is the home of the Cham and Khmer cultures, of floating fish farmhouses and the Islamic Cham minority settlement. An area of outstanding cultural richness and beauty.
8. Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island: mountainous and forested Phu Quoc island is in the Gulf of Thailand, 45km west of HaTien and 15km south of the coast of Cambodia. This tear-shaped island is ringed with some of the most incredibly beautiful beaches in Viet Nam. There are fantastic views of underwater marine life through the transparent blue green waters.