PRIVATE SHORE EXCURSIONS FROM SAIGON (HO CHI MINH) PORTS
Sài Gòn in Vietnamese is still the official name of central Saigon, with the greater city now known as Ho Chi Minh City (or just HCMC). It is served by two ports depending on the size of your ship - small & medium sized vessels can navigate the winding Saigon River almost into the city centre while larger ships berth at Phu My Port, a 65 km drive to Saigon centre. Depending on your port of arrival, my Private Shore Excursions can include Saigon city itself, the Mekong Delta or South Vietnam's own 'seaside' city of Vũng Tàu.
"A five-star rating is in order to describe our excursions. Xuan Tu communicates perfectly while writing and her English is fluent and easily understood. On both occasions, we were picked up at the designated time and location. The van was comfortable and clean"
Saigon 'Highlights' - A Private Shore Excursion
Behind the sleek skyscrapers of modern Saigon, our 2nd city has a prominent history going back centuries. It's thought the earliest settlement was a 4th century Funan temple at what is now the 19th century Phung Son pagoda in Saigon's District 11. During its Khmer period, the town was known as Prey Nokor before annexation by the Vietnamese in the 17th century. Colonised by France and Spain in 1859 it was quickly ceded to France and from this almost 100 year period of colonisation can still be seen classical Western-style buildings and villas with wide French-style boulevards.
Saigon was the capital of French Cochin China and later the independent republic of South Vietnam from 1955-1975. In 1976 Saigon city merged with the surrounding Gia Dinh Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the revolutionary leader
Today's Saigon is the business and financial hub of modern Vietnam and is a popular tourist destination for our international visitors, over 6 million were welcomed last year! My full day Saigon 'Highlights' Excursion includes all the popular attractions PLUS a snapshot of the real Saigon that many visitors never see
"Private tours do cost more than cruise excursions, but as the saying goes, "you get what you pay for!" We felt like we received great value for our money and saw so much more than other cruise guests returning from their excursions. I would highly recommend Xuan Tu Tours"
In the morning we 'meet & greet' shipside by your personal tour guide with driver and modern air-conditioned vehicle, for your drive into Saigon's Chợ Lớn area and your first destination of Chinatown and the old Thien Hau temple where you gain a wonderful insight into our customs and religions. This is followed by a trishaw ride to the centre of Saigon (weather permitting) where you discover the hidden gems of our second city through small alleys and markets. This is truly memorable as you experience the genuine and 'local side' of Saigon life. We have time for a lunch of authentic south Vietnamese delicacies.
After lunch we continue our private excursion with all the key sights in Saigon city including: the Reunification Hall and War Remnants Museum, the Central Post Office, Opera House and Notre Dame Cathedral and an interesting shopping experience with locals at Ben Thanh market where we can help you negotiate your purchase (or alternatively you can visit the 'fixed price' area).
Finally, time and traffic permitting, you visit the lovely Rex Hotel where during the war military briefings for journalists were known as the "Five O'Clock Follies", before returning you safely to your ship in plenty of time for your journey.
The Mekong Delta – A Private Shore Excursion
This is an excursion for clients who are staying overnight in their Saigon port, as the Mekong Delta is some 2¾hrs from Phu My. But its definitely worth a visit if time permits to see its beautiful tropical scenery, interesting riverine culture and friendly people. You can easily spend 2-3 nights at least to explore the Mekong Delta but we manage to give you a flavour of this unique place in just one day.
“We 5 had a wonderful day with Lam and his driver Mr Vi. They arrived on time on the pier next to our cruise ship while the other passengers were still waiting to board their mega-busses........ In the end, we saw and did so much in 10 hours, and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt!”
You will be met 'shipside' by your personal tour guide with driver and modern air-conditioned vehicle, for your drive around the south of Saigon city, through south Vietnamese countryside to the boat station at My Tho where you embark on your private Mekong River boat.
Your first destination is Unicorn Islet where you will enjoy "Đờn Ca Tài Tử", the authentic local music of the area which is recognized by UNESCO as a Vietnamese cultural heritage - perhaps at the same time, you can enjoy fruits of the season, some unique to the area. Taking a leisurely walk you visit a bee 'farm' at Orchid Garden to see how locals extract honey from beehives, tasting home-made hot sweet honey tea with a welcome into their home. We visit another local family where you learn how to make chocolate from coco-beans. These are genuine Mekong families speaking little or no English, working and living today as they have done for generations.
We return to your Mekong River boat passing paddy fields and vegetable farms to coconut island where, as the name suggests, you see coconut products being made - the hot coconut candy is really worth a try!
And during your visit lunch is taken at an authentic local restaurant!
In the afternoon we retrace our steps and return you safely to your ship in plenty of time for your overnight stay or onward journey.
Vũng Tàu City – A Private Shore Excursion
This can be a half day or full day excursion as Vũng Tàu is just 60 minutes from Phu My port and about 2hrs from Saigon itself. It is a great excursion on the 2nd day of an overnight stopover, returning shipside by 2.30pm.
“To summarise - a great company, great tour guide, great locations and the best day we had on our holiday where we visited several ports in 14 days. Highly, highly recommended and very good to deal with - book with confidence....thanks to all involved”
Vũng Tàu has an amazing history, playing an active part in both the French colonisation period and our more recent conflict during the 1960s & 1970s (Long Tân is close by and its still home to a small ANZAC expat community). Today its a modern seaside resort for our Vietnamese middle-class from Saigon, and an important seafood centre (great for your lunch!). Your itinerary will include:
- A shipside pick-up at Phu My port for our short drive to Vũng Tàu through rural South Vietnam
- Visiting the French designed lighthouse, for coffee and an amazing city view (1st built in 1907, the lighthouse is still working to keep shipping safe). From here you can see the amazing 100 ft tall concrete statue of Jesus gazing across the East Sea, said to be the tallest religious statue in South Vietnam – we can visit the statue of Christ, but please remember there are 811 steps to its base plus 122 inside to the viewing platform on its arm!
- Visiting the 'White Palace', built in 1898 for the French Governor (Paul Doumer, who later became French President)
- Checking out the important local fishing village before lunch
- Checking out the 3 beaches of Vũng Tàu, there are wonderful seafood restaurants beachside or interestingly, on a raft nearby!
- Visiting the 20th century Long Son house. Established by Le Van Muu, a follower of the Tu An Hieu Nghia faith (unique to the southern regions of Vietnam) the architecture of Long Son is an impressive example of the mixture between local traditional religion and Nho and Lao religions
- Discovering local oyster farms as we drive back to port, in plenty of time for your onward journey.
- A fully escorted private guided tour in English
- 'Meet & Greet' + Drop-Off shipside
- All entry fees
- Cold bottled mineral water & moist towelettes
- Use of our modern air-conditioned vehicle & my professional driver
- Meals (a Vietnamese lunch can be included in your excursion fee on-request)
- Drinks taken (bottled water is free of charge in your vehicle)
How to book a tour:
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