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Southern Vietnam

Southern Vietnam is a tropical paradise with a lot of unique features differentiating it from the rest of Vietnam, from the French architecture of Ho Chi Minh City center to the idyllic beaches of Mui Ne, Con Dao, and Phu Quoc to the floating markets of the Mekong Delta.

It’s a noticeably different atmosphere compared to the more mountainous and traditional regions of Northern and Central Vietnam, and it’s a crucial part of an itinerary for anyone who wants a full view of what the country is about.

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Top Attractions

Southern Vietnam Travel Guide

Best time to visit Southern Vietnam

The optimal time to visit most parts of Southern Vietnam is from September to February. During this period, the weather is typically mild, neither too hot nor too cold, and the landscapes are lush and vibrant. Be aware that November and December have the most tourists, though.

For a more comprehensive understanding of the best times to visit Southern Vietnam, refer to the section on South Vietnam in our guide to Vietnam’s weather.

Weather

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Southern Vietnam experiences a tropical climate, resulting in warm temperatures year-round, typically ranging from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius. The average daytime temperature hovers around 30 degrees Celsius. The region is characterized by two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The rainy season spans from May to October. 

Festival and Events

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Southern Vietnam hosts a range of festivals and events, including the Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival) with lantern processions, the Ho Chi Minh City International Dance Festival, Tay Ninh Horse Racing Festival, Binh Duong International Women’s Cycling Tournament, Nha Trang Sea Festival, Phan Thiet International Kite Festival, and Ooc Om Bok Festival, each offering unique cultural experiences for tourists.

Crowds

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The busiest season in Southern Vietnam typically coincides with the dry season, which runs from November to April. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with lower humidity and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and travel.

Consequently, accommodations and tourist attractions may be more crowded during this peak season.

Activities

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Southern Vietnam offers a diverse range of activities for travelers to enjoy throughout the year.

During the dry season, explore the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City, visit historic landmarks such as the Cu Chi Tunnels, or embark on a cruise along the Mekong Delta to experience rural life.

In the wet season, take advantage of the lush landscapes and waterways by joining a boat tour through the mangrove forests of Can Gio Biosphere Reserve or relaxing on the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc Island.

Transportation

Getting to Southern Vietnam

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By Air

Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City is typically the first point of arrival for most travelers heading to Southern Vietnam. For detailed information on flights, consult our guide on flying to Vietnam. Refer to our guides on Southern Vietnam destinations for specifics on reaching popular locations in the area.

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By Train

Travelers can take a train from Hanoi or central Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City. The journey offers scenic views of the Vietnamese countryside and is a unique way to experience the country’s diverse landscapes.

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By Bus

An extensive network of long-distance buses connects Southern Vietnam with other regions of the country. Buses are a convenient and affordable option for traveling between cities and towns, with various operators offering comfortable sleeper buses for overnight journeys.

Getting around in Southern Vietnam

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By Public Transportation
  • Buses: Cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho have extensive bus networks for urban and intercity travel. 
  • Trains: Limited but scenic rail services connect cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, and Phan Thiet.
  • Taxis: Metered taxis are abundant in urban areas, providing convenient transport.
  • Ride-Hailing Services: Apps like Grab offer convenient booking for motorbikes, cars, and deliveries.
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By Motorbike or Bicycle

Renting a motorbike or bicycle is a popular choice for exploring Southern Vietnam, especially in rural areas and coastal regions. Many rental shops are available in tourist areas, offering affordable rates for short-term rentals.

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By Boat

Boat tours are a popular way to explore the Mekong Delta and other waterways in Southern Vietnam. Local operators offer guided tours to floating markets, traditional villages, and scenic river routes, providing a unique perspective on the region’s culture and lifestyle.

Customs and Etiquette

Heading to Southern Vietnam? Awesome choice! Here’s a quick lowdown on how things roll down there:

  • Southern Hospitality: Get ready for some serious warmth! People in the South are known for being super friendly and welcoming. You’ll probably get a lot of smiles and nods from strangers, which is pretty cool.
  • Dress for the Weather: It’s hot and humid most of the time, so think light and comfy when it comes to clothing. But hey, don’t forget to keep it modest, especially if you’re visiting more traditional areas.
  • Say it Like You Mean It: Down south, folks tend to speak their minds a bit more directly. It’s all good though, just roll with it and you’ll fit right in.
  • Embrace the Chaos: Traffic can be a bit wild, especially in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City. Keep your wits about you, and don’t be shy about dodging motorbikes like a pro!
  • Take it Easy: Above all, just relax and soak it all in. Southern Vietnam has a way of slowing things down and making you appreciate the little moments.

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Common questions about Southern Vietnam

Southern Vietnam is best known for its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and bustling cities like Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).

The number of days needed in Southern Vietnam depends on your interests and itinerary. However, to explore the main highlights, a minimum of 5-7 days is recommended. If you’re heading to Ho Chi Minh City, don’t miss out on our 2-day itinerary to truly explore this city.

The biggest city in Southern Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon. Other top cities in the South include the Mekong Delta, Mui Ne, and Vung Tau, …

  • Cu Chi Tunnels: An immense network of underground tunnels that played a crucial role during the Vietnam War. Visitors can explore some sections and learn about the living conditions of Viet Cong guerrillas.
  • Mũi Né: A coastal resort town known for its beautiful sandy beaches, impressive red and white sand dunes, and the Fairy Stream—a small waterway that runs through a rocky canyon.
  • Mekong River: The lifeblood of the region, this mighty river can be explored by boat. Visitors can enjoy the rich biodiversity and vibrant river life, including floating markets and riverside villages.
  • Saigon Chinatown (Cholon): A vibrant and historic area, known for its traditional Chinese temples, markets, and eateries. It’s one of the largest Chinatowns in the world.
  • Red Sand Dunes: Located near Mũi Né, these are rolling red hills of sand that provide a scenic natural attraction, popular for sandboarding and capturing dramatic sunset views.
  • Cai Rang Floating Market: The largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta, where visitors can observe the bustling trade of goods and produce on the water, an authentic cultural experience.

From Ho Chi Minh City:

From Mekong Delta: 

  • Mekong Delta Full Day Tour: you will enjoy every moment of touching on real life by easy cycling along green fields, riding in a hand-rowed sampan cooled by gentle southern breezes, or having tasty coconut juice under the sunlight of this tropical land.
  • Cai Be Village Mekong Delta Tour: The highlight of the day is to cruise among the boats coming from all areas of the Delta, and to cycle along the trails, returning the friendly smiles and waves of local children.