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While the city offers its residents a range of activities, a weekend escape may be necessary from time to time to regain a sense of calmness and clarity, away from the stresses of city living.
There are several destinations close to Ho Chi Minh City that provide an easy three-day weekend trip, such as the towns of the Mekong Delta or the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc. For those with more time on their hands, Vietnam’s central and northern areas also boast popular travel spots.
Mui Ne is a coastal beach town in southeastern Vietnam, just over 125 miles (200 km) from Ho Chi Minh City.
With a driving distance of about five hours, Mui Ne is famous for its wind and kite surfing, and is a practical weekend getaway for those craving the ocean and some outdoor activity. Aside from the fine beaches, Mui Ne is equally popular for its sand dunes located about six miles (10 km) from the main resort strip.
Many expats travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne by bus. Tickets can be bought at any of the travel agencies in the Pham Ngu Lao area of Ho Chi Minh City. Buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne typically leave in the mornings or evenings. Private taxis or vans can also be hired for the trip and, while this will cost much more, it will take less time.
Mekong Delta Villages
The Mekong Delta stretches throughout southern Vietnam and includes several travel destinations offering an experience that is a world away from city life. Can Tho, My Tho, Vinh Long and Ben Tre are some of the villages in the Delta region that attract both tourists travelling through Vietnam and city residents.
The Mekong Delta is a biological treasure trove and an agricultural gold mine. It is famous for its maze of rivers and canals with floating markets and villages inhabited by warm and friendly people.
Life here revolves around the river and activities for travellers are centred around these floating markets. Make sure to sign up for an early morning market tour to explore these river towns.
The Mekong Delta Villages offer both hostel and mid-range accommodation, along with homestays that provide a more local, Vietnamese experience.
Travel to these Delta villages can be done through bus tours. Tour operators offer full-day trips along with two to three-night stays. Buses leave from Ho Chi Minh City and travel to the desired village, often including stops to browse wet markets and tour some of the local factories. Many travellers, however, prefer the do-it-yourself style and hop on a motorbike or rent a car for a road trip. Travel times range from two to four hours, depending on the town of choice.
Those searching for a beach getaway need look no further than Phu Quoc, a tropical island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand.
This island offers some of the most beautiful beach scenery in Vietnam and some of the best seafood. Scuba diving, snorkelling, exploring the island on a motorbike, or simply relaxing and enjoying the views are the top activities on Phu Quoc.
Somewhat new on the grid for travellers, Phu Quoc embodies Thailand’s beaches, pre-development. While it is still quite an undeveloped island, this is guaranteed to change in the coming years due to extensive development plans, including rebuilding the island's city centre, a new international airport, a casino and highway construction.
November to April is the best time to visit the island to avoid monsoon season and high humidity. Phu Quoc can be easily accessed by plane from Ho Chi Minh City’s airport. It takes under an hour to fly there, and several airlines such as VietJetAir and Vietnam Airlines offer multiple daily flights.
Da Lat is located about 185 miles (300 kilometres) northeast of Ho Chi Minh City in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam. It is a popular spot for the Vietnamese and has increasingly become a favourite among holidaymakers, too.
Surrounded by mountains and hills, Da Lat is an easy escape from the heat and humidity of the city with fresh air and cool temperatures.
Da Lat has plenty to offer those seeking an active weekend trip. Some of the best hiking, mountain biking and canyon exploring in Vietnam can be found in this area, as well as world-class golfing.
The best way to travel to Da Lat from the city is by bus, with numerous departure times throughout the day. The trip takes about seven hours. By plane, it's just a short hour's hop to get to Da Lat.
►Check out the Lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City page for a list of the city's best attractions
"Going to malls, parks, swimming pools and doing outdoor activities are the main things you can do if you have kids in Vietnam. Some locations such as Mekong Delta (countryside), Ho Tram (coastal city) or Dalat (mountain area) are not that far from HCMC. These destinations can be chosen for a weekend away outside the chaotic city."
Learn more about the lifestyle in HCMC in our interview with French expat Guillaume.
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