People often say that northern Vietnam is more beautiful than the south. While the north does have more mountainous terrain, this statement is simply untrue. Here are some of the most beautiful places in the southern half of the country.
This list won’t make sense if Phu Quoc doesn’t kick it off. This gorgeous island lies to the southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, and is actually closer to Cambodia than it is to Vietnam. The beaches are fantastic, and the sunsets are glorious. The island is also popular for its high-end resorts that line up Long Beach, making it an ideal, luxurious getaway. There are many undiscovered beaches on this island, so grab a bike and explore. Up north you will find the Phu Quoc National Park which is mostly used for research, but some parts are open for travelers where you are able to trek mountains, camp in the wilderness and sleep under the stars. The island is also a seafood paradise!
Often recommended by Ho Chi Minh City-dwellers as an ideal weekend getaway, Da Lat will welcome you with a little cute French-inspired town surrounded by mountains, year-round cool weather and fresh, unpolluted air. It is about 185 miles (300 kilometers) to the north of Ho Chi Minh City, but the peaceful environment makes it seem like even farther a distance. There is a lot of nature to take in here—lots of trekking, many viewpoints, waterfalls, gardens and lakes. Getting a motorbike and riding around is a lot of fun. You can also do some awesome coffee tours while up there because Da Lat grows some of the finest beans in the world. You can pick your own flowers, roast the beans and make your own cup of authentic coffee.
Accommodation is easy—from resorts to simple homestays, they all come at different prices. We recommend booking at a homestay where you can get up close and personal with your host family, cook with them and hang about town.
The Mekong Delta is a favorite destination in the south of Vietnam, especially for those looking to explore some floating markets and authentic Vietnamese countryside. While Can Tho is the most popular destination of the lot and therefore the most touristy, we recommend you visit My Tho. Over here you can board a cute sampan and row your way through palm-tree lined canals of the Delta, surrounded by rice paddies and fruit orchards, and enjoy some Mekong delicacies in a floating restaurant. While you can do the same in Can Tho, the city is overly touristy and you may find the waterways cramped with lots of other boats.
You will also find a nice range of accommodation options but don’t expect anything too fancy. You’re in the countryside, so learn to adapt! Again, we recommend spending your nights at a homestay. If you do not wish to spend the night here, you can carry on for a little while longer and get to Can Tho where you will have a larger range to choose from, and more comfortable options.
Mui Ne is a gorgeous little fishing town in the south of Vietnam. While the beach here may not be the best (you do get some awesome off-the-beaten-track places though), there is a lot more to explore here—like two sets of giant sand dunes and the fairy stream surrounded on both sides by large colorful limestone cliffs and greenery. The seafood here is also worth dying for and the nightlife is worth a mention as there are some great bars where you can chill all day, play board games and hang out with others also on a mission to escape the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Spend your days in the water, diving, snorkeling, jet skiing or kite-surfing, and then the rest of your time playing Uno while drinking lots and lots of beer.
Con Dao archipelago is a group of 16 islands in the south. The main island, Con Son, is accessible through a boat from Vung Tau or you may choose to fly in from Ho Chi Minh City. These islands are known for the vast range of wildlife and aquatic life. 80% of the island is forested, making Con Dao great for adventure seekers as you can explore both, above ground and under water. There’s a dark past to the island as well, as it was a giant jail cell for political prisoners during the wars Vietnam went through.
Accommodation is generally not fancy, though there are a few resorts. Your stay here can either be luxurious, or a simple getaway.