Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon and HCMC) is a vibrant destination to visit for a day or 3 days. As the most populated city in South Vietnam, you can’t go wrong with exploring the variety of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City from restaurants, cafes, nightlife activities, and fun attractions to visit. If you stay in Ho Chi Minh for 5+ days or even live here, it’s refreshing to leave the city for a weekend trip.
With the convenient transportation options and within a few hours, you could be relaxing on the beach, enjoying paradise on an island, exploring nature and waterfalls, hiking, or wandering through an off-the-beaten-path destination.
Here are the top 15 places to visit for weekend getaways from Ho Chi Minh City. The list is organized by distance with the starting location in Ben Thanh Market in District 1. We’ve visited most of these destinations as we’ve lived here for over 3 years so you’ll get insider tips on what to do at these locations and how to get there. Some destinations require a short plane ride.
It’s recommended to stay a minimum of 3+ days at each of these destinations to explore the location’s attractions, yet you can also stay for 2 days if pressed for time.
If you don’t have the time to spend the weekend in another area of Vietnam, check out some of these Ho Chi Minh City day trips instead. You can still have a new experience with a mini escape from the city.
Now, let’s start planning a short Ho Chi Minh City weekend break!
Read More: Top Reasons to Visit Vietnam
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How to Plan Weekend Trips from Ho Chi Minh City
A weekend is going to fly by quickly! Here are some tips on things to consider when planning your weekend break and how to maximize your weekend.
- Think about how you’ll travel to your destination. Your mode of transportation will determine when you’ll need to leave HCMC. If you’re visiting other areas of Vietnam such as North or Central Vietnam, then you’ll need to take a short domestic flight. Otherwise, you can consider hiring a driver or taking an overnight train or bus, so you can potentially sleep in the middle of the night. Check out our Vietnam transportation guide here.
- Take a paid time off day (PTO) on Monday or Friday. Then, you can have a full 3-days for travels and sightseeing.
- Or, leave late Friday or early Saturday. If you can’t take an extra day off and only have two days for the trip, an option could be to leave Ho Chi Minh City around 11:00pm on Friday or after midnight on Saturday. This would be helpful for the overnight bus and trains.
- Determine the transportation once you arrive at your destination. You’ll most likely use a combination of Grab ride-hailing (if available), taxis, or motorbikes. Don’t forget to download important Vietnam travel apps.
- Pre-plan the activities that you’ll do. We’re planners so we like to have some ideas on what to do once we arrive at the destination. This will lessen the stress levels. While you don’t need to have a full schedule planned, at least have 1-2 activities that you want to see per day.
- Have travel insurance. You never know what may happen during your weekend trip, such as needing medical attention. Buy travel insurance here.
- Relax and have fun! Two or three days for a short weekend break from Ho Chi Minh City should be your time to destress and have new experiences. Enjoy your time away!
Map of Places to Visit on Weekends from Ho Chi Minh
Weekend Destinations to South Vietnam
South Vietnam has some of the best places to visit for 2-3 days and some places aren’t too far from Ho Chi Minh. Whether you’re looking for the beaches or the mountains, feel free to choose any of these short getaways.
1. Vung Tau
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 86-102 kilometers (53-63 miles)
Vung Tau (Vũng Tàu in Vietnamese) is a popular weekend getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s the closest place to relax on the beaches for days. Some of the popular beaches include Bai Sau Beach (Back Beach) and Bai Dau Beach (Mulberry Beach). Feel free to go beach hopping by renting a motorbike.
Other attractions to visit are the Big and Little Mountain. Big Mountain is the iconic mountain that you’ll see while riding the ferry from Ho Chi Minh. You can go on an adventurous hike up Big Mountain. Also, you can take the cable car to the peak of the mountain which has the Ho May Park theme park and hotel. There are some incredible views of Vung Tau from the summit.
The Little Mountain has several attractions to visit such as the Statue of Christ. It’s a slightly shorter version of the Rio de Janeiro version. There is also a lighthouse on Little Mountain which requires a short hike from the statue.
You can also take a slight detour and hike Dinh Mountain in Ba Ria-Vung Tau area.
If you prefer a tour option for this Vung Tau 2-day trip, check out this option with departure from HCMC.
How to Get to Vung Tau from HCMC: The most convenient way is to hire a driver or take a limousine van to go from Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau. You can also ride a motorbike there from Ho Chi Minh. Expect to take 2-2.5 hours one-way.
2. Ho Tram
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 108 kilometers (67 miles)
Want to experience a gorgeous beach area that is only a couple of hours away from Ho Chi Minh City? Head to Ho Tram (Hồ Tràm)! This area is an hour away from Vung Tau, so you could combine both places for a weekend trip.
This small beach town is popular as a weekend getaway due to the numerous beautiful resorts and boutique accommodations along the oceanfront. You can hang out along the beach and just relax for a few days.
Popular resorts include Melia Ho Tram Beach Resort, Ho Tram Beach Boutique Resort, and Carmelina Beach Resort. Minera Hot Springs is nearby these resort places and is recommended to relax at the hot springs.
How to Get to Ho Tram from HCMC: Many of the boutique resorts offer transportation. Otherwise, you can hire a limousine van or ride a motorbike to get there. Expect to take 2 hours one-way to get there.
3. Mekong Delta
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 85 kilometers (53 miles) to Ben Tre, 200-220 kilometers (124-137 miles) to Can Tho
The Mekong Delta is the perfect weekend travel destination from Ho Chi Minh City. Since the Mekong Delta stretches over 15,600 square miles, there are many areas to choose from. Head to Ben Tre, Long An, Soc Trang, Can Tho, My Tho, An Giang, and other provinces. It’s an opportunity to see a different lifestyle while many locals rely on the Mekong River for transportation and water for making products.
Book a fun multi-day Mekong Delta tours here:
While Ben Tre is a popular day trip from HCMC, we recommend Can Tho for a long weekend trip. As the third-largest city in Vietnam, it doesn’t feel as crowded or frenetic as Ho Chi Minh City.
Can Tho (Cần Thơ) is famous for the Cai Rang Floating Market where you get the chance to ride a sampan boat to see fruits and vegetables sold on boats. During the tour, you stop by a rice noodle factory and coconut candy shop and may eat a hot bowl of hu tieu (hủ tiếu) noodle soup on the boat!
On Can Tho mainland, there are also many temples and pagodas to visit and night markets to try street food. We love the grilled rice paper (bánh tráng nướng) snack.
Check out our Can Tho guide on helpful travel tips.
While you can visit Can Tho on your own (which is what we did and highly recommend), you may consider taking one of these Can Tho tours.
How to Get to Can Tho from HCMC: Take a 3-4 hour sleeper bus to Can Tho and take a taxi to the main Can Tho area. Motorbiking is also another way to get there but it’ll be a long ride.
4. Cat Tien National Park
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 150-180 kilometers (93-112 miles)
Want to go on nature hikes and spend some time outdoors? Cat Tien National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên) is the best place for you! It’s an opportunity to explore the outdoors with short hikes, hug a tree, see wildlife, and enjoy the greenery and trees. You’ll love the fresh air here!
Top attractions include wandering around the forest area to see the tall Tung Trees and the Uncle Dong Tree, walking through the Botanic Garden, and seeing animals roaming around during the night safari. A unique way to experience the park is to stay overnight at the park’s campgrounds.
If you want to go on any special tours such as seeing wild gibbons at sunrise, hiking to Crocodile Lake, or visiting the Ta Lai ethnic village by boat, ask your accommodations to arrange.
Check out what to do in Cat Tien National Park in 2 days here.
Otherwise, consider taking this 2 days National Park tour which includes round-trip transportation to/from Ho Chi Minh.
How to Get to Cat Tien National Park from HCMC: Take a 5+ hour small bus from Mien Dong Bus Station in Binh Thanh District to Cat Tien National Park. You can also take a sleeper bus from Futa Bus or Thanh Buoi to a stopping point in Dong Nai and then take a taxi to the National Park. You can also drive a motorbike but it’ll be a long ride.
5. Bao Loc
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 200 kilometers (124 miles)
Bao Loc (Bảo Lộc) is not on the typical weekend excursion from Ho Chi Minh City, yet it’s a small city in the Central Highlands. This hidden gem of an area is well-known for the tea so the iced tea that you recently drank is most likely from here. It’s a pretty area since the hillside is covered with tea plantations.
Bao Loc’s local attractions are outside of the city center so you’ll need to have some form of transportation to travel. Some fun things to do in Bao Loc include visiting Dambri Tourist Area to see Dambri Waterfalls, hang out at Dambri’s theme park, and visit the Linh Quy Phap Ap Pagoda to see the sunrise.
If you have extra time, visit the neighboring city, Dalat. More information is below. Or you can do a quick detour to Bao Loc on your way back from Dalat to Ho Chi Minh.
How to Get to Bao Loc from HCMC: It’s recommended to hire a driver since it can take 4+ hours one-way to get to Bao Loc. Sleeper buses and limousine buses are also available and stop by Bao Loc.
6. Mui Ne
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 206 kilometers (128 miles)
Visiting Mui Ne (Mũi Né) is an easy escape from Ho Chi Minh City. Located in the city of Phan Thiet (Phan Thiết), Mui Ne is a small beach town where you can relax or go on adventures. There are tons of resorts along the oceanside to hang out at the private beaches and get some sunshine. Or, you can learn how to kitesurf as the winds are consistent here.
The popular and touristy thing to do in Mui Ne is to take a Jeep tour and visit the sand dunes. Head to the white dunes and red dunes where you can see the sunrise or sunset, walk through a “fairy stream” and see a small waterfall, and see the hustle and bustle of a fishing village (It’s active in the morning). Book a Jeep Tour here.
Since Mui Ne receives seafood every day, head to one of the seafood restaurants along the oceanside and enjoy the daily catch of fish and shellfish.
If you want to escape Mui Ne to go on a hike, check out Ta Cu Mountain. It’s only one hour away from Mui Ne. Plus, you can see the largest reclining Buddha statue in Southeast Asia!
How to Get to Mui Ne from HCMC: Take either a train ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet and then take a 30-minute taxi to Mui Ne, or a 5-hour sleeper bus.
7. Con Dao Islands
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 236 kilometers (147 miles)
Con Dao Islands (Côn Đảo) is our little secret as a weekend destination away from Ho Chi Minh. The largest island is Con Son and is surrounded by 15 smaller islands along the archipelago. Con Son is super quiet and not touristy compared to the big sister island, Phu Quoc.
One of the best things to do in Con Dao is to visit the clean beaches and relax. After visiting beaches and various islands in Vietnam, this island has the best beaches that we’ve seen. The sands are clean and the ocean water is bright turquoise. A splurging experience is to stay overnight at the fancy resort, Six Senses, and enjoy the private clean beaches and spa amenities.
A unique experience is to learn about the history of the island as it was a former prison for 113 years. Explore the prison sites, see the “tiger cases” for yourself, and visit the museum for more details. It’s a humbling experience to see the sites yet provides more learnings about what the country went through during the dark times.
How to Get to Con Dao Islands from HCMC: The fastest way is to take a 1-hour domestic flight to Con Dao Airport on Con Son Island (airport code: VCS). Otherwise, you can take a 4+ hour one-way ferry from Vung Tau.
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 300-370 kilometers (186-230 miles)
Dalat (Đà Lạt), located in the Central Highlands, is one of our favorite places to visit in Vietnam. Some people may say that the city is boring, yet we love the vibe.
With the cooler weather and tons of outdoor adventures, this area is great for adventurer travelers. Head to some of the most beautiful waterfalls to visit in Asia, such as Elephant Waterfall, Prenn Waterfall, Pongour Waterfall, Tam Tham Waterfall, and more. Check out this waterfall tour option. You can even go canyoning from Datanla Waterfall!
Dalat is known to produce fresh fruits and vegetables so stop by the Night Market area to buy some or go on a gardens day tour. Also, you can go cafe hopping to try as many coffee shops here.
You can also wander around to see the French-inspired architecture. Or visit the quirky Crazy House for an avant-garde look.
Read our Dalat 3 days itinerary for more travel tips.
How to Get to Dalat from HCMC: The fastest way is to take a 1-hour domestic flight to Dalat Airport (airport code: DLI) and take a bus or private car to Dalat City. The cheaper option is to take a 6-hour overnight sleeper bus.
9. Phu Quoc Island
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 400 kilometers (249 miles)
Two to three days on Phu Quoc Island (Phú Quốc) is a good amount of time for those who want to hang out on the beaches or resorts and do some sightseeing.
Some of the unique places to visit on Phu Quoc Island include visiting a pepper farm, see how fish sauce is made, go snorkeling off several islands, and take Vietnam’s longest cable car to Hon Thom Island. Phu Quoc has a museum that describes the island’s prison history during the 1950s.
The main city area has a night market to try crepes, rolled ice cream, snacks, and street food. Otherwise, you can eat fresh seafood and hot noodle soup with thicker noodles (bánh canh) on the island.
Read how to spend 2 days on Phu Quoc Island here.
How to Get to Phu Quoc from HCMC: Take a 1-hour domestic flight to Phu Quoc International Airport (airport code: PQC) and take a taxi to your accommodation.
10. Nha Trang
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 420-460 kilometers (261-285 miles)
Nha Trang is one place that we’ve been to a few times for weekend trips. It’s a beach town with over 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) of beaches and a popular spot for Chinese and Russian tourists. If you just want to hang out at the beach for the day, rent a lawn chair and veg out at the easy to access and most popular beach, Nha Trang Beach.
Or, head to the Hon Tam Island for a more private-island vibe and also has beaches and water activities. It’s a short boat ride away from the mainland.
For more relaxation activities, visit a mud bath. Nha Trang is popular for mud baths and hot mineral springs. The popular choices are – 100 Egg, Thap Ba Hot Spring, and I-Resort. We suggest I-Resort as it’s a beautiful place. If you can splurge, get a private bungalow so you can enjoy privacy. Your skin will be super soft and silky after the experience!
If you want to visit a theme park, head to VinWonders Nha Trang. It’s a fun place for children and families to see animals, go on children-friendly rides, wander through gorgeous gardens, and also swim in the water park (included in admission).
Check out our 3 days Nha Trang itinerary here.
How to Get to Nha Trang from HCMC: Take a 9-hour overnight train to Nha Trang or a 1 hour 15 minutes flight to Cam Ranh Airport (airport code: CXR) and take a bus or taxi to Nha Trang City.
Weekend Destinations to Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam is an ideal spot to spend a couple of days exploring the landscape, historical landmarks, and beaches.
11. Quy Nhon
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 630 kilometers (391 miles)
Quy Nhon (Quy Nhơn/Qui Nhơn) is another coastal town that is often overlooked on a Vietnam itinerary. This city has plenty of exciting attractions to visit and explore for a few days.
A trip to Quy Nhon would not be complete without visiting the accessible Quy Nhon Beach. Head there early morning to see the sunrise and watch locals exercise or in the afternoon and see everyone play in the ocean.
A cleaner beach area is Ky Co which you can get to by motorbike or go on a day tour which also includes a snorkeling session. The waters are so blue and clear here!
One of the coolest things to do in Quy Nhon is to check out the historic Cham towers. These towers were built by the Cham people in the 2nd to 15th century. The architecture is similar to what you would see in Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Twin Towers is in the center of town while the Banh It Tower requires a motorbike ride outside of the main city.
Quy Nhon also has some cute cafes and shops to hang out and reprieve yourself from the humidity.
How to Get to Quy Nhon from HCMC: Take a 1 hour 10 minutes domestic flight to Phu Cat Airport (airport code: UIH) and take a 1-hour taxi to go to the main Quy Nhon area.
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 950 kilometers (590 miles)
Danang (Đà Nẵng) is worth the visit for a weekend trip from Ho Chi Minh City. As a popular destination in Central Vietnam and the fifth-largest city in the country, visitors and locals head to this city to relax on the beaches and soak in the sunshine. Danang has an impressive 35 kilometers (11.2 miles) of beaches so head to either My Khe or Non Nuoc to start your relaxation.
For those who prefer the mountains, there are plenty of beautiful mountain ranges. See the incredible views from Son Tra Peninsula’s Linh Ung Pagoda. Or walk up Marble Mountain to see a panoramic view of the area and also the other four mountains. Each of the mountains is named after the elements – water, metal, earth, fire, and wood.
If you have extra time, spend the day or half-day at Hoi An (Hội An). It’s only 30-40 minutes south of Danang. Recognized as one of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s a popular getaway spot to explore the Ancient Old Town, wander through the cobblestone roads, and see the lanterns light up in the evenings.
Read what to do in Danang in 3 days here.
How to Get to Danang from HCMC: Take a 1 hour 20 minutes domestic flight to Danang (airport code: DAD). It’ll be the fastest way to get there.
13. Phong Nha
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 1,250 kilometers (777 miles)
Need to go on an outdoor adventure? Head to Phong Nha right now! It’s home to the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park which has over 500+ limestone caves to explore.
The two must-visit caves are Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave as they’re impressive in size and have cool stalactites and stalagmites. Phong Nha Cave is easy to get to as you take a boat ride from the center of town. Paradise Cave is located in the National Park loop so a motorbike or a tour is required to get here.
A unique opportunity is to spend half a day to a full day cycling or motorbiking through the rural area of Bong Lai Valley. It’s a quiet area and has mostly farmlands, yet, stop by the original Pub with Cold Beer for some delicious food (with really large portions!) and drinks.
If you have more time, you can extend a trip to visit Hang En Cave, the third-largest cave in the world. Or go big and see the Son Doong Cave, the world’s largest cave. You’ll want to return to Phong Nha to go on more adventures!
Check out this Phong Nha itinerary for more ideas.
How to Get to Phong Nha from HCMC: Take a 1-hour 35 minutes flight to Dong Hoi (airport code: VDH) and then take a 30-50 minute taxi ride to Phong Nha Town.
14. Ly Son Island
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 573 kilometers
Ly Son Island (Đảo Lý Sơn) is a gorgeous place in Vietnam that hasn’t been overpopulated by foreign tourists yet. It’s a quiet and small island and is known for growing garlic and onions. The garlic and onions are smaller and have a milder flavor than the conventional ones as they’re grown in volcanic sand.
Rent a motorbike and visit sites such as Mount Thoi Loi to see the beautiful cliffside ocean view, go snorkeling around Cau Cave and An Binh/Be Island, and visit the natural lava arch, To Vo Gate, at sunset.
Don’t forget to try the fresh seafood when you’re here. You can have the daily catch prepared any way you’d like.
This Ly Son Island guide has everything you need to know about your visit.
How to Get to Ly Son Island from HCMC: Take a domestic 1 hour 25 minutes flight to Chu Lai International Airport (airport code: VCL). Afterward, hire a taxi or driver to go to Sa Ky Port and then take a speedboat to the island.
You will need to have the speedboat tickets purchased ahead of time as the boat only goes to the island several times a day. It’s recommended to have a local or a friend who knows Vietnamese to help book the tickets.
Weekend Destinations to North Vietnam
North Vietnam is a fantastic spot to explore for a few days. You can easily spend the time in the capital, Hanoi (Hà Nội), or go to beautiful areas such as Ninh Binh (Ninh Bình). It’s been a few years since we’ve visited these two areas thoroughly so we’ll add to this post at a later time.
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles)
Once a sleeper town, Sapa (Sa Pa) is now a bustling area where tourists go trekking, visit ethnic villages, and awe at the stunning landscape of the rice terraces. The town itself is pretty small with restaurants and cafes, so you’ll need to take day trips.
Sapa has so many treks to the nearby ethnic villages of Cat Cat, Lao Chai, for a day trip or overnight stay. It’s a fun and healthy way to meet locals and also get to wander through the various ethnic villages. You’ll need to have hiking boots since the rice fields are muddy. More information is in our Sapa trekking tips here.
Another cool place to visit is the Fansipan summit, the highest point in Vietnam at 3,143 meters (10,312 feet). Take the cable car from Sapa Town to reach the summit in 20 minutes.
If you prefer to get some rest, visit one of these amazing resorts that overlook the rice terraces and mountains. These places are highly recommended by Expats: Topas Ecolodge, Topas Riverside Lodge, and Sapa Clay House.
Read what to do in Sapa in 3 days here.
How to Get to Sapa from HCMC: Take a 2-hour flight to Hanoi International Airport (airport code: HAN) and then take a limousine van to Sapa. You can request a pick-up from the airport. Or, you can stay overnight in Hanoi and then depart the next morning between 6:30-7:00am by bus or limousine van. It’ll be a tight schedule as the transportation from Hanoi to Sapa is 5-6 hours one way.
Whew! There are a lot of destinations to visit in Vietnam for a short trip! Since you have so many places to choose from, you can easily go on short trips from Ho Chi Minh City every week. Don’t forget to add in some relaxation time so you don’t get burned out from traveling.
Which of these places do you want to visit? If you have further questions, ask a question in the comment section below.
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