For most travelers, Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon by locals, is primarily the gateway to the Mekong Delta and the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels. From the heartbreaking War Remnants Museum to luxe shopping strips, gourmet restaurants and delectable street stalls, HCMC is a taste of all that Vietnam has to offer.
Day 1 consists of a Cu Chi Tunnels Tour, a water puppet show and dinner on a cruise. At 8:00 AM on the first day, you will be picked up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City to start the Cu Chi Tunnels Tour. Enjoy a fascinating tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, where you'll learn more about the conditions the people lived in, the hardships they faced, and the amazing ingenuity employed to maintain life in the tunnels. Walk past huge bomb craters - evidence of the heavy bombing campaigns in the region during the Indochina conflict, discover hidden entrances right beneath your feet, wander past tiny little chimneys in the ground that dispersed smoke from the underground kitchens, sample some of the simple cuisine that local fighters would have survived on, and have an opportunity to venture into the tunnels and explore the complex. You'll end this historical Ho Chi Minh City tour with a greater understanding of the local impacts of the conflicts of the 20th century.
At 2:30 PM, arrive back to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy some free time for lunch. At 6:00 PM, you will be picked up again to transfer to the water puppet theater. Water-puppetry is an ancient puppet tradition and an important part of Vietnamese culture. In water-puppetry, puppets are played on the surface of a pool of water, while a Vietnamese orchestra of professional musicians, accompanied by an array of talented singers, provide background music for the performance. Enjoy watching the puppet show and learning more about Vietnamese rural life and folklore. Many of the programs, especially those involving the tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist. After the show, head to Saigon River to board a boat for a cruise. Take the time to admire the lights of Saigon city from the river. Dinner will then be served on the cruise, which you can enjoy while listening to the selection of relaxing music. At 9:00 PM, you will be taken back to your hotel.
On day 2, enjoy a tour of Mekong Delta and explore Ho Chi Minh City's street food by motorbike. Start the day at 8:00 AM where your tour guide will pick you up from your hotel before heading to My Tho city by bus. Enjoy the scenery and green rice paddies during the 1.5-hour bus ride. Along the way, visit Vinh Trang pagoda, the biggest pagoda in Mekong Delta. Continue to My Tho, where you will take a boat trip along the Mekong River, during the trip you can see fish cages and floating houses on the river. The boat takes you to a small canal, escaping the hustle and bustle of the town. Disembark at a coconut island in Ben Tre and enjoy a walk around the village. Stop at a local family home to enjoy tropical fruit, taste the honey tea and honey wine and listen to Vietnamese traditional music performed by the villagers. Check out the coconut candy shop and learn how to make candy, and see handicrafts made from the coconuts.
Take your time snapping photos and enjoy the natural scenery before heading to the local restaurant. Lunch is set with special Vietnamese food and you can enjoy your lunch outside under the shade of the trees. After lunch, enjoy time to relax, walk around the village, or perhaps go for a short bike ride. Then, travel back to Saigon and arrive around 4:30 PM. In the evening, you will be collected from your hotel to start the local street food tour. Eat your way through Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City, the way locals do. Indulge in the dishes that have made Southern Vietnamese cuisine famous such as xa xui (Cantonese barbecued pork), chao muc (squid soup) and bo la lot (barbecued minced beef). Mingle with locals over Saigonese coffee, experience Saigon’s history and multi-culturalism through its food. Explore hidden alleys and go off the beaten track to see Saigon in a way few tourists do.