ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Your guide will meet you at your hotel around 8am and driven to the city’s Central Post Office, which was designed by the renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel, and Notre Dame Cathedral, the iconic landmark built between 1863 and 1880. Admired for its neo-Romanesque architecture, the cathedral is a popular backdrop for local wedding photographers.
Next, stroll toward the Saigon River along Dong Khoi Street, which figured prominently in Graham Greene’s famous Vietnam novel, The Quiet American, to the Saigon Opera House, a commanding building completed in 1901. Shelled during World War II, it was used to shelter French citizens fleeing North Vietnam in 1954, the year Vietnam earned its independence from France.
The tour continues with a stop at the Reunification Palace, where a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gates in 1975 to end a war that killed an estimated 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese. You will also visit the War Remnants Museum, where Vietnam’s government has assembled presentations – some of them graphic – of wartime hardships and atrocities.
You will then visit Chinatown and the Thien Hau Pagoda before hopping on a cyclo and whizzing through the narrow streets to Binh Tay Market. Wander through stalls selling everything from dried squid to party hats.
Day 2: Cu Chi Tunnels
Depart in the early morning for the Cu Chi Tunnels, which once sheltered thousands of Viet Cong soldiers and included living quarters, supply routes and even hospitals. Many died there from malaria and other diseases, and a few were also born or married.
The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, and they didn’t escape damage: Note the craters left by American B52 bombers. The tunnels also have “mantraps” – large pits that ensnared enemy soldiers by sharpened bamboo stakes, but don’t worry— you won’t fall in!
Day 3: Mekong Delta Cruise
Leave Ho Chi Minh City at around 7:30am for a relaxing cruise in the Mekong Delta, a swampy landscape of rivers and farms that produces the bulk of Vietnam’s huge annual rice export. In the small delta town of Ben Tre, hop aboard a small boat to cruise the canals and visit a small homemade coconut processing factory that produces oils, candy and matting. Back on land, take a short walking tour in a riverside village and observe traditional mat weaving in a local farmer’s house. Then travel by tuk tuk down the country roads to the pier where you will board Le Jarai, a converted rice barge for lunch and a cruise down the river. Enjoy a demonstration of traditional Vietnamese cooking, followed by a three-course lunch. Arriving back in Ben Tre, you will make the return trip to Ho Chi Minh City.