Southern Vietnam Revealed

8 days / 7 nights

This trip offers some dramatic contrasts from the rolling mountains around Dalat to the shifting sand dunes of Mui Ne Beach. This is the best of Southern Vietnam packed in to one short week. Upon arrival in Saigon, we explore the main sights associated with the long war, including the War Remnants Museum and the French colonial-era Post Office. We then make a day trip to visit the Cao Dai Holy See and the underground warren that is the Cu Chi Tunnels. We then fly north to Dalat, a lush hill station that is a romantic escape for local Saigonese. We leave time free to explore the area around Dalat before driving southeast on the dramatic mountain road to Mui Ne, one of Vietnam’s leading beach destinations. We include a visit to the iconic sand dunes and the chance to cool off with a visit to Fairy Spring and Red Canyon, striking local landmarks. There is also some free time to enjoy the beach, try kite-surfing, indulge in a spa treatment or sip a cocktail. Southern Vietnam offers it all.

In brief

  1. Day 1: Arrive Saigon. War Remnants Museum. Notre Dame Cathedral.
  2. Day 2: Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh and Cu Chi Tunnels.
  3. Day 3: Saigon to Dalat by flight. Sightseeing Dalat.
  4. Day 4: Free Time to Enjoy Dalat
  5. Day 5: Drive from Dalat to Mui Ne via Mountain Roads.
  6. Day 6: Visit Sand Dunes and Fairy Beach at Mui Ne.
  7. Day 7: Free Time to Enjoy the Beach at Mui Ne.
  8. Day 8: Free Morning on Beach, Transfer Back to Saigon.

In detail

Day 1: Arrive Saigon. War Remnants Museum. Notre Dame Cathedral.

We arrive in Saigon and transfer to our accommodation. In the afternoon, we begin exploring the sights of Saigon. We learn about the legacy of the recent War at the dramatic War Remnants Museum. The Requiem photo exhibition showcases the work of the era's most famous combat photographers and is a must. We also visit Reunification Hall, formerly the Presidential Palace of South Vietnam. It was here that a North Vietnamese tank famously crashed through the gates bringing an end to the long Vietnam War and the building has been preserved exactly as it was in 1975. We then take a stroll around the impressive old French-built post office and Notre Dame Cathedral before continuing to the City Hall area, another grand old colonial-era relic. We then leave guests free to explore the famous Dong Khoi area, home to the legendary Continental Hotel, made famous by Graham Greene in the Quiet American, and lots of popular restaurants, bars and boutiques.

Day 2: Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh and Cu Chi Tunnels.

We leave the bustling streets of Saigon and head northwest to the town of Tay Ninh, headquarters of the Cao Dai religion. The Cao Dai Great Temple is an incredible cotton candy building and we learn about this unique religious fusion of East meets West. Cao Dai worshippers follow a blend of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, as well as some Christianity and Islam for good measure. Prophets include Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, as well as invoking the spirits of Joan of Arc, William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo and Lenin. We arrive in time to witness one of their noon prayer service.

After a local lunch, we continue to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground world used by the Vietnamese communists to elude the Americans. Whole villages went underground during the 1960s and the tunnels stretched for more than 250km, from the Cambodian border to the suburbs of Saigon. Using this incredible warren of tunnels, the Vietcong were able to stage ambushes and attacks on American patrols and even bases. We explore this astonishing complex, a testament to the tenacity of the Vietnamese people. For those that dare, it is possible to crawl through some of the original tunnels, a fascinating but claustrophobic experience. Imagine living here for several years, as some fighters and their families did?
We then return to Saigon and leave some time free to soak up the atmosphere of the city.

Day 3: Saigon to Dalat by flight. Sightseeing Dalat.

We arrive in Dalat and transfer to our accommodation. We begin exploring the sights of Dalat. We visit the Crazy House – a beautiful and strange architectural delight. The official name is Hang Nga Guesthouse and gallery, but all locals refer to it as the crazy house. And when you stand in front of its entrance it is easy to see why: this house is indeed strange. It does not comply with any convention about house building, has unexpected twists and turns, roofs and rooms. It looks like a fairy tale castle, it has enormous "animals" like a giraffe and a spider, no window is rectangular or round, and it can be visited like a museum. After that, continue with Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, the Lam Ty Ni Pagoda and Dalat market are on the itinerary. 

Day 4: Free Time to Enjoy Dalat

Clients can spend half day to discover Da Lat by themselves. One of the outstanding features of Dalat is kinds of flowers. Clients can contemplate the beauty of them at Truc Lam pagoda area. Then they can reach the Tuyen Lam Lake by pedalo. Stop in the middle or disembark at a small island in the lake to have a drink and enjoy the peacefulness, fresh air as well as the mystery.

Day 5: Drive from Dalat to Mui Ne via Mountain Roads.

After breakfast, we say goodbye to Dalat and head for Phan Thiet. It’s a pleasant drive through interesting scenery. At first, the quiet road winds past villages and coffee plantations. Then we start to make our way to the coast and we can see the highland pines and forests giving way to tropical palms and jungle. We then spiral our way down the highway losing some 1000 metres. By the time we reach Highway 1, the land will be pancake-flat. We drive staright past Phan Thiet to Mui Ne Beach where you can relax in your hotel on the sands.

Day 6: Visit Sand Dunes and Fairy Beach at Mui Ne.

The endless white sand beaches, the charming fishing villages, the desert-like dunes and numerous types of rare flora and fauna make Mui Ne an ideal place for anyone seeking an enjoyable escape.

Enjoy a day to the completely untamed area with dunes from dark red to snow white sand and drive along kilometers of white sandy beaches with the sea on one side and endless Sand Dunes on the other. Discover the daily lives of fishermen and drive to an island to discover the" White Lake" where snow-white sand dunes reflect themselves in the still waters.
Back to your hotel and have rest of the day free at your leisure.

Day 7: Free Time to Enjoy the Beach at Mui Ne.

Today is another day of leisure on Mui Ne beach. Or for those that haven't already tried, there is the option of some watersports like kite surfing or windsurfing or the chance to explore the famous sand dunes for some photo opportunities. Overnight in Mui Ne.

Day 8: Free Morning on Beach, Transfer Back to Saigon.

We leave the morning free to enjoy the blissful beaches of Mui Ne once more. After a last lunch in Mui Ne, we drive inland towards bustling Saigon, also known by its official name of Ho Chi Minh City. Along the way we pass through acres of rubber plantations, one of the most important industries in the country during the French period. We arrive around late-afternoon and then check into our hotel, leaving the remainder of the day free to soak up the atmosphere of this dynamic but historic city.