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Friday, May 27, 2016

Best of Saigon and Mekong Delta 3 Days

See the highlights of southern Vietnam during three days, including Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels. You’ll arrange your own overnight accommodation in the former Saigon, but during the day you’ll benefit from the knowledge of a private local guide who accompanies you to notable city landmarks like the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. Ride a boat to an island on the Mekong River from My Tho and visit Vinh Trang Pagoda, then finish with a trip to the underground war tunnels. Round-trip hotel or airport transport by private vehicle and three lunches are included.

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City (-/L/-)

Meet your friendly guide upon hotel or airport pickup and set out on your private tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Travel in the comfort of an air-conditioned car or minivan to Chinatown (Cho Lon) to visit the district’s top attractions, including Quan Am Pagoda and Thien Hau Temple, before descending on Binh Tay Market and numerous tea-houses in search of specialty goods.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and spend your afternoon with a sightseeing itinerary that hits major landmarks in the southern capital, once called Saigon. Peruse the popular exhibits at the War Remnants Museum (formerly the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes) to learn about the impact of the Vietnam War on local inhabitants.

Afterward, drive to the Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) and discover the history of this former presidential residence up until the Fall of Saigon, which ended the war.

If time permits, make quick photo stops at Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, two architectural gems built by the French on Saigon Paris Square in the late 19th century.

Then test your bargaining skills (with help from your guide) at Ben Thanh Market, the city’s lively central market. Marvel at the array of foods, textiles, cosmetics and other goods that are neatly divided among various sections. 

Your evening is free for you to spend at your leisure.

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City — My Tho (-/L/-)

After pickup from your hotel in the morning, you’re taken on a 2-hour drive to My Tho, a prosperous town in the Mekong Delta that’s known for its extensive orchards and immense rice fields.

Visit Vinh Trang Pagoda, a not-to-be-missed sanctuary teeming with flowers, shrubs and lotus pools among gorgeous gardens. After crossing a river bridge, walk with your guide through the intricately designed gate and stroll around the complex, where towering Buddha statues stand or sit amid the extensive grounds. Admire the decorative motifs of the structures made with mosaic tiles and carved and gilded wood, and perhaps meet some of the monks who maintain the peaceful temple.

Then embark on a boat ride on the mighty Mekong River, enjoying lunch en route to an island, where you’ll visit a fruit orchard and learn about regional produce.

Your day trip ends with return to Ho Chi Minh City and drop-off at your hotel.

Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City — Cu Chi Tunnels (-/L/-)

Meet your guide at your hotel in the morning for a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing complex of underground tunnels used by guerrilla fighters during the Vietnam War.

After the comfortable drive, your subterranean exploration begins with a short film documenting the role of the tunnels as a strategic military base by the Viet Cong. The vast underground network that once connected villages and housed living quarters, hospitals, conference rooms and kitchens is today preserved as a memorial park.

Descend with your guide into a narrow passageway to explore a section of the labyrinth open to tourists, and get a picture of what life was like below ground during wartime.

After you walk back to your private car from the forest, return to the city for lunch at a local restaurant, followed by free time for your own activities before you’re transferred to your hotel or the airport.

Inclusions

Hotel pickup and drop-off
Airport pickup (upon request)
Transport by air-conditioned vehicle
Entrance fees
Professional guide
Lunch
Bottled water

Exclusions

Hotel accommodation
Food and drinks, unless specified
Gratuities

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