Sai Gon & Southeast Region of Vietnam
Southeast (Dong Nam Bo) contains those parts of lowland southern Vietnam which are north of the Mekong delta. This region includes one municipality ,Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon); and five provinces: Dong Nai,Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam named after the late communist leader Ho Chi Minh, who led the nation against both France and the U.S.A. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has been historically a political and administrative centre of Vietnam. Today Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is a rapidly developing, dynamic, and the economic capital of Vietnam. It is perhaps the heart and soul of Vietnam.
The bustling industrious centre of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam also harbors the ancient traditions and culture of Vietnam and bears the influences of French colonial rule. Life in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam resides in the city streets, markets, shops, pavement cafés and vendors selling their goods on the sidewalks.
Besides soaking in the rich culture and ethos of Vietnam on the streets, the visitors are also offers a number of tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. Some of these are:
Emperor Jade Pagoda (Phuoc Hai Tu or Chua Ngoc Hoang): This is a place of worship and an excellent example of a Chinese temple. The temple is an ancient architectural extravaganza with elaborate woodcarvings and sculptures depicting local deities.
Market of Cholon: The ancient Chinese quarter of Cholon or Chinatown is the best place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to observe the hustle and bustle of trading.
Notre-Dame Cathedral: Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam, this French built twin tower cathedral occupies scenic Paris Square.It has been a familiar landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam since 1880s and isone of the major Vietnam tourist attractions.
War Remnants Museum: One of the most famous tourist attractions in Vietnam, this museum bears witness to the sufferings of the Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It has on displays various artifacts and photographs documenting the events during this period
Cu Chi Tunnel:
The town of Cu Chi, approximately 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City , has now become a district of greater HCMC and been known as the best site for a massive supply base where the VC mounted their operations of the Tet Offensive in 1968. And Cu Chi Tunnels network represents the will, the intelligence and the pride of Cu Chi people as well as symbolizes the revolutionary heroism of Vietnam. With such glory history, Cu Chi has officially been cited as "Vietnam's land of steel and bastion of bronze".
The Cu Chi Tunnels are an impressive network of tunnels with a length of over 250 km. This strategic place was used by 15,000 Viet Cong fighters during the war. This main axis system has many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters, and entrances to other tunnels. The tunnels are between 0.5 to 1 m wide, just enough space for a person to walk along by bending or dragging. However, parts of the tunnels have been modified to accommodate visitors. The upper soil layer is between 3 to 4 m thick and can support the weight of a 50-ton tank and the damage of light cannons and bombs.The underground network provided sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, hospitals,and other social rooms. Today visitors can watch the movie of the war time,have time to inspect the tunnel site, visit the gates, traps, underground hospitals, worships, dine on steamed manioc, pressed rice with sesame and salt and have better understanding how life is going under the ground.
Several other attractions of Vietnam tourism resides in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam namely the Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City Museum,Central Post Office, Zoo and Botanical gardens, the Cho Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Vung Tau City (in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province)
Vung Tau City is located in the south of Vietnam, and is situated at the tip of a small peninsula. It has traditionally been a significant port,particularly during Vietnam's period of French rule. Today, the city's importance as a shipping port has diminished, but it still plays a significant role in Vietnam's offshore oil industry. Vung Tau is the only petroleum base of Vietnam where crude oil and gas exploitation activities dominate the city's economy and contribute principal income to Vietnam's budget and export volume.
Vung Tau is more interesting for its extensive beaches. Tourists always prefer sightseeing at Front Beach (Bai Truoc) but go swimming in Back Beach (Bai Sau). Back Beach is well-known for its over 10 km of fine sand seaside. As Vung Tau is only 130 km away from Ho Chi Minh City, it is a favourite resort destination for those wishing to get away from the city. In recent times, the number of foreign tourists visiting Vung Tau's beaches increased. Vung Tau is also home to one of Vietnam's most well known golf courses. From Ho Chi Minh City, one needs two hours to reach Vung Tau by road(51A Expressway) or an hour and fifteen minutes by hydrofoil express ferry.
Vung Tau is also of interest for religious reasons. It has about 14 Catholic wards with active services. A notable monument in the city is alarge statue of Jesus, constructed on a hilltop by Vietnam's Catholic minority.It was completed in the early 1970s with the height of 32 m and twooutstretched arms spanning 18.4 m. It is considered to be among the tallest statues of Jesus Christ in Asia. The Thich Ca Phat Dai pagoda and Niet Ban Tinh Xa temple, both Buddhist sites, are also significant, drawing pilgrims from around the country.
Con Dao Island (in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province)
The Con Dao Islands, also known as Poulo Condore, situated at about 185 km from Vung Tau , and 230 km from Hochiminh City ; the group includes 16 mountainous islands and islets. Con Dao Island is famed for its grizzly past: due its remoteness, the French used the main island of Con Son (the largest island in the group) to keep anti-colonial protestors prisoner. The South Vietnamese continued the tradition, sending political dissenters and activists to the 11 prisons which were also used in the American War. One third of the current 6,000 population are Vietnamese soldiers based in barracks dotted around the island.
The Con Dao islands have a history of repression: The French,Vietnamese and Americans have all used the island as a place to keep 'enemies',and so it's only fair you commence your stay with a round-up of the island's brutal past. Start at the museum on Ton Duc Thang and be sure to ask for the guided tour and also Phu Hai Prison, Hang Duong Cemetery and the 'Tiger Cages'-- cells used to keep prisoners in brutal conditions. All of this can be completed in a couple of hours leaving plenty of time for adventuring. If you're had your fill of Vietnam's wartime attractions, don't fret -- there's a lot more on offer. The islands offer an escape into the great outdoors, taking you from the noise, pollution and people of the city into a world of deserted beaches and peaceful countryside. With 16 islands such as Con Lon, Hon BayCanh, Hon Cau, Hon Trung, Hon Vung, Hon Ngoc, people have said that Con Dao is as attractive as Ha Long Bay. Traveling to Hon Tai islet, tourists can climb the mountain, watch monkeys, bathe in the sea and dive to view coral reefs.Going over a wooden bridge into Con Dao Natural Reserve, tourists have a chance to take tiny turtles on their hands. This season, tourists should stay overnight on the island to see turtles giving birth. Con Dao Island is also famous for its nice beaches shaded with evergreen trees, fresh air, clear blue waters, and primitive forests. Some of those beaches include Dam Trau Hang Duong and Phi Yen where visitors can relax and enjoy the warm temperature.Clean, smooth sand banks, blue sea, dolphins jumping and racing after boats,tropical almond trees swinging in a cool sea breeze, peaceful narrow roads, and forest covering most of the island, make Con Dao seem like heaven to visitors from far and wide.
Cao Dai Temple (Cao Dai Holy See) (in Tay Ninh Province):Established in 1926, is 4km east of Tay Ninh in the village of Long Hoa. Its doctrine is an east-west mix said to have been communicated through seances by famous spirits such as Shakespeare and Lenin. The Cao Dai symbol, an all-seeing eye, and the temple decor in general are colorfully garish. A visit to this sacred temple is usually combined with Cu Chi Tunnels exploration.