9 new reasons to pack up and get out of Saigon right now

By Thanh Tuyet   September 30, 2017 | 09:01 am PT
The city has launched seven speedboat tours and is set to hold a marathon and a river parade in the coming weeks.

Fed up with Saigon's noise and dust? Pack your bags and prepare to set sail.

Major travel company Saigontourist launched seven new river tours on Thursday, offering voyages to rural attractions in the city and the neighboring province of Binh Duong.

The one-day trips set off from Tan Cang Port in Binh Thanh District and take visitors away from the urban noise to major rural attractions including the mangrove forests in Can Gio District, the Cu Chi Tunnels, temples, orchards and garden houses where fish, birds and monkeys can be found within touching distance.

Each tour can accomodate between six and 25 people at a time and costs VND750,000-VND2,099,000 ($33-92) per person, with a 25 percent discount for children.

Whale worshipping festival


Fishing boats parade during the Nghinh Ong Festival in Saigon to show respect to the guardians of the sea. Photo by VnExpress/Phu Tho

Saigon also plans to organize a whale worshipping festival next week to attract tourists.

Vietnamese fishermen respect whales as the guardians of the sea, referring to them as Ong Ca, or Grandfather Fish.

Those in the city’s coastal district of Can Gio hold a festival each year known as Nghinh Ong to show their respect.

The festival peaks on the full-moon of the eighth lunar month, which falls between October 3-5 this year, and will feature boat parades, exhibitions, traditional art performances, games and a street serving seafood.

Last year, the festival drew 73,000 visitors, and officials expect a 20 percent jump this year.

International marathon


Nguyen Hue Walking Street in downtown Saigon. Photo by VnExpress

The city will host an international marathon on November 26, taking runners through the city’s most famous and historic destinations including the Saigon Zoo, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office and Nguyen Hue Walking Street.

The 130-year-old Central Post Office and the wartime Cu Chi Tunnels have been named by TripAdvisor users among the top landmarks in Asia.

Participants will have to pay between VND850,000-1,750,000 ($37-77) to take part in the race, which will finish at a new urban area in District 2.

Saigon is the country’s top tourist destination for foreigners, whose numbers are expected to jump 15 percent to six million this year.

The city is still trying to come up with solutions for problems such as traffic and street attacks, but it is proving to be a destination that has something for everyone.

It was named one of the friendliest destinations for solo travelers earlier this year by Airbnb, while top U.S. lifestyle magazine Food and Wine named it an ideal place for retiree travelers.

Price of Travel, a travel cost database, in April ranked HCMC the world’s third cheapest city, where backpackers only need $18.33 a day for meals, beer, a place to stay, public transport and an entrance fee to a top attraction.

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