brief overview of the south of Vietnam
area of Vietnam normally includes the Mekong Delta, but
as its culture and way of life differs radically from the
rest of the country, it has a section of its own.
The rest of the
South is dominated by Ho Chi Minh City, easily the largest
centre of population in the country. It has a range of attractions,
mostly concentrated around District One. However, there are
several interesting places in other districts – Cho Lon, located
in the old Saigon area and better known as Chinatown, is an
obvious example. Although not far in distance, visits to other
districts have to take the city traffic into account, often
making journey times much longer than expected.
The extent of Ho
Chi Minh City's urban sprawl means that many of the attractions
in the region are some distance.
Ho Chi Minh City's
location beside the Saigon River opens up possibilities for
waterborne transport. Fast boats and hydrofoils ply routes
to and from locations in the Mekong Delta, and longer trips
can take visitors to Phnom Penh in Cambodia via the Bassac
River and the border gate at Chau Doc.
Can Gio mangrove
forest reserve, Vung Tau, the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai
Holy See can be day excursions, but Phan Thiet, Con Dao, and
Phu Quoc need at least two or three days to make the trip
In the extreme south-west
corner of the Vietnamese mainland is Ha Tien, a little-visited
province next to the Cambodian border with a variety of places
of interest. A pleasant way to get there is by boat along
a canal linking the Bassac River to the Gulf of Thailand.
The tropical weather
all over the south is the most predictable in Vietnam. There
is little variation in temperature between summer and winter,
and the monsoon season starts and finished more or less as