The Best Viet Nam Shore Excursions


Is it your first time to travel to Viet Nam on cruise and you wonder what to do and see while you have little time inland? Well, if you search “Shore excursions in Viet Nam” on Google, there will be a bunch of answers for you and I bet that will take you a lot of time to find information and fill in your bucket list the most suitable location for your trip.

This is the reason that I am here as a local expert and introduce you to the 10 best Viet Nam shore excursions. The list below will help you have a specific image of great tours from the ports in Southern, Central, Northern Viet Nam to easily find which is your favorite. And since we are customizable tours, we can fix the itinerary based on your interests so do not worry and talk to us about any of your requests.

1. Saigon City

Ports Recommended: Phu My, Hiep Phuoc, Nha Rong

Located in the South of Viet Nam, Ho Chi Minh city or also known as Sai Gon is a big symbol of tourism in this beautiful country. Mixing with many cultures, religions and ethics, this city is definitely a “must-visit” place on your bucket list.

So when is the great time to visit Saigon? There are 2 seasons in the southern Viet Nam: wet and dry. Technically, you can visit Sai Gon whenever you want since this weather is not really harsh on any specific time; but to enjoy your time in the fullest way, I highly recommend you to visit during the dry season (around September – March). If you travel during the rainy season, there is a lot of sudden rain during your tour, which may disturb you a little bit. And with some heavy rain (usually in June and July), you will have to stay at your hotel instead of going on a tour.

Next question, what or where do you should visit in Sai Gon for your first time? Well, there are many things to see depending on your interests and specific requests. But, we do have a list of big landmarks that you must come and visit like: the downtown area with many historic French constructions, China temples inside the small Chinese area at district 5, or many big wet markets that will impress you with many diverse fresh products. And especially, joining with us and we will explore the local area and streets in Viet Nam together on the special transportation of Sai Gon: rickshaw riding.

Our customers are enjoying their first time on rickshaw
Our customers are enjoying their first time on rickshaw

 2. Cuchi tunnels + Saigon highlights

Ports recommended: Phu My, Hiep Phuoc, Nha Rong

Used to be a great hidden place for Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam war, Cu Chi Tunnels nowadays is an ideal destination for people who are history lovers and want to learn more about the story of war in the modern era. And just like Sai Gon, the dry season is the perfect time for you to visit these tunnels. Because all the route there is dust and mud so it will be a little tricky to crawl inside if you travel during the rainy season.

Coming to this area, you will have 2 choices to visit. One is Ben Duoc with many complicated and narrow tunnels and there are also not too many tourists around; however, it will take you quite a long time of driving and visiting so I just recommend it if you have plenty of time inland. Next one is Ben Dinh, this place takes you less driving time and also the tunnel construction is wider and easier to crawl inside but there are many people visiting this destination so the chance that you have to wait and take the line is really high. And on the way back to the port, we will have the chance to stop and try out the most delicious Pho beef noodles in the town at the local restaurant.

And you still have time while visiting Cuchi tunnels which only take you half of a day, you wonder what you gonna do next, return to the ship? No, no, you can spend your rest of the day coming to Saigon – Ho Chi Minh city since you have to pass by this town on the way from Cu Chi to your port anyways. And do not worry if you already visited this place before since there are always plenty of new and interesting activities for you to do.  

The visitors will have a chance to try the tunnels just like Vietnamese soldiers
The visitors will have a chance to try the tunnels just like Vietnamese soldiers

3. Vung Tau city

 Port recommended: Phu My

Although Vung Tau city is not as famous as Sai Gon or Cu Chi, this beach city is really worth a visit. The beautiful seacoast, mordent but peaceful atmosphere and local authentic villages; all of this forms a typical developing beach town.

There are many activities for you to do here: Climbing up to the Jesus statue to see the spectacular view of Vung Tau city, walking along the long seacoast to feel the hot wind on your face, visit Ong Lon’s ancient house to learn about the unique religion of local people,etc. And just like the other beach cities, the seafood in Vung Tau is really fresh and delicious to try. Vung Tau also has many markets and shopping malls for you to try. Most of their products are sun-dried seafood, small colorful souvenirs like key chains or hand fans so make sure that you come to the right place.

Also, If you are a big family with many children and your kids do not want to spend hours sitting in the car, Ho May theme park in Vung Tau city is a great idea to visit. It just takes you less than 1 hour to come there and you can spend all your day relaxing while your kids have a very interesting playground.

Outstanding view from the shoulder of Jesus Christ statue
Outstanding view from the shoulder of Jesus Christ statue

4. Mekong

Ports recommended: Nha Rong, Hiep Phuoc, Phu My (if you have more than 12 hours inland)

Contrary to the busy, chaotic atmosphere in Saigon, Mekong area is much more rural and authentic with peaceful weather and beautiful landscape.

Each season has their own unique interesting feature for you to explore and here is some useful information for you to know. If you travel from April to June, light rain and warm weather will welcome you, which gives you a good time boating along the river and visiting fruit orchards. From June to September, it will be super hot and humid but this time has the greatest variety of tropical fruits. And be careful when you travel from October to December since the water level rises highest at this time.  

 If you want to explore and see the daily activities of local people at this delta, my recommendation is Bentre which is very famous for coconut candy. Although this is a tourist attraction, there are many routes for tourists to visit depending on their interests. There are also many factories where you can see the making process of brick, coconut candy, straw mat,etc.

On the tour, our guide will show you the overall image of the Mekong delta while we travel on many different modes of transportation like “Xe Ba Gac” (or we also call “Mekong Lamborghini” for fun) and rowing boats. Joining with us to see and learn the custom, daily life of Vietnamese people in the South.

And I believe that Cai Rang floating market Cai Rang is also inside your “must-visit” list. Normally, it will take us 2 days to travel and explore this place since it is located in Can Tho city which apart from Sai Gon quite far. So, what if you have a restrictive time inland when you travel on cruise? You will have to forget about the floating market? No, you can come to Tien Giang district which is apart from Sai Gon around 2 hours by car and visit Cai Be floating market. This market is smaller and maybe less crowded than the biggest one in Can Tho but it still can give you the idea of a daily floating market of people in the Mekong area.

Besides the floating market, there are many activities for you to do in Tien Giang like visiting local people house and observe their daily working life, taking bamboo rowing boat along the small river to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere in the rural town, or sitting at the back of locals motorbikes to ride along the rice field, etc.  

Try Mekong “Lamborghini”
Try Mekong “Lamborghini”
Chill and relax on the boat in Mekong
Chill and relax on the boat in Mekong

5. Ho Coc beach

Port recommended: Phu My

If you are looking for a relaxing and easy trekking experience, Ho Coc beach with many beautiful natural scenery is an ideal destination for you. Located at Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, this destination is nowadays a famous place for Vietnamese to hang around on weekends, especially families with many children.

Travelling to Ho Coc during the dry season of the Southern Viet Nam, you will find the landscape there magnificently beautiful with bright yellow sun and warm wind. It will be spacious for you to travel during the weekdays; however, there are packs of Vietnamese tourists visiting this destination on weekends.

If you are interested in photography, Suoi Nghe Sheep Hill is a perfect destination for you. Used to be an empty and arid land, this place nowadays is the favorite spot for people to come there and take photos since locals started grazing the sheeps and establishing the sheep fields. Coming to this location, you will find yourself immersed into the vast space of sheep farms with many unique shooting angles.

And  we can also spend time doing easy trekking in Binh Chau Phuoc Buu nature reserve which is one of the few areas along the South seacoast to retain the significant sight of natural forest. Visiting this place, you will be amazed by the diversity of rare wild species and the variety of natural freshwater ponds and lakes. And especially, you will have the chance to see and experience hot springs inside the Indigo forest with overgrowing leaves.  

On the way back to the port, we will stop by Rung va Bien stop where couples usually take their wedding photos. You can enjoy lunch while seeing the beautiful and tranquil sea scenery.

Ho Coc Beach View
Ho Coc Beach View

 6. Nha Trang city

Ports recommended: Nha Trang

Famous for Cham tower construction and the long beautiful beach coast, Nha Trang city should be always in your bucket list when traveling to Viet Nam on cruise.

So, when is the great time for visiting Nha Trang? Summer starts from May until early August, but the ideal time is between February and May when it is dry with little to no rainfall and not too hot. That makes it ideal for lounging on the beach, island-hopping, hiking, surfing, and other water-sports. The hottest months of the year are July and August. Avoid scorching heat by planning your holiday before the end of June.

There are many interesting places and activities for you to try. And the most typical destination that you must visit when you come to this beach city is Cham towers Po Nagar where you can learn about the culture and religion of Cham people while observing the beauty of this construction. Talking about architecture, one of my recommendations for you is Nha Trang Stone Church built by French on a small hill. Standing from the top of the hill, you will capture the view of Nha Trang train station.

Besides the busy life of tourism, locals here still make living everyday with their normal job. Coming to this city, you not only see the outstanding view with attractive constructions but also observe the normal authentic daily life of people like making hats, straw mats, noodles, etc.  

Visiting beautiful Po Nagar Cham Temple
Visiting beautiful Po Nagar Cham Temple

7. Natural Eco Water Park Yang Bay

Port recommended: Nha Trang

Apart from the center of Nha Trang city around 1 hour by car, Eco Water Park Yang Bay is an ideal destination for people who want to see the outstanding natural view of the waterfall in Viet Nam. And even the road from Nha Trang port to Yang Bay is surrounded by marvelously beautiful landscapes.

The perfect time to visit this place is during the rainy season when the water level raises which causes the waterfall to flow roughly and powerfully.

Since this destination is located rather distant from the big resorts so you can be sure that there is a tranquil and quiet atmosphere for you to enjoy there. Besides three picturesque waterfalls: Ho Che, Yang Kang and Yang Bay, there are thermal springs, small Zoo which runs animal shows for people to visit. And the local people will give you authentic musical performances that are quite worth listening to. This Eco Park is quite capable for a big family with many children since there are various options of activities that are interesting to adults and kids such as ostrich riding, cock fighting, feeding of black bears,etc. And if you are hungry, you can taste the crocodile and ostrich meat at the coffee shop and restaurant nearing Yang Bay waterfall.

This park is the ideal place for people who are looking for a relaxing and entertaining experience. Spending a day tour there and I am sure that you will not regret it.

Natural Eco Water Park Yang Bay
Natural Eco Water Park Yang Bay

8. Hoi An ancient town

Ports recommended: Tien Sa, Chan May

Traveling to the Central of Viet Nam, Hoi An is definitely a destination “should not be missed” on your travel list. Either your ship docks at Tien Sa port or Chan May port, Hoi An is still a wonderful choice if you are looking for an in-depth culture and architecture tour.

Let’s talk about the perfect time to visit Hoi An first. Some say it is great to visit this town between February and April when the weather is warm and dry. But some rather wait until May and June to take the best shoots with bright yellow sunshine of Hoi An. But overall, the weather in Hoi An is quite warm and not too humid during the year so what works for you is the best.

So, what makes Hoi An become so special and famous like its reputation nowadays? Most of the tourists said that they liked the peaceful environment and attractive landscape here. There are also many activities for you to do besides visiting the ancient town. You can go to the rural area to see the beautiful view and try to ride the buffalo, do a bowl boat ride or go fishing. For someone who loves to cook, you can also attend the cooking class and challenge yourself with strange different vegetables to make Vietnamese traditional dishes.

Or if you are looking for a relaxing and entertaining tour, there are many beach bars along the seacoast of Hoi An for you to try. Is it great to spend your time lying on the beach and chill with some cups of cocktail?

And especially, with people whose ship docks at Chan May port, you can travel through the outstanding Hai Van pass and have some Vietnamese coffee while standing on the pass to observe the beauty of Lang Co beach and Da Nang city.

Peaceful and beautiful landscape of Hoi An
Peaceful and beautiful landscape of Hoi An

9. Da Nang city

Port recommended: Tien Sa, Chan May

Being the most modern and developed city with many touristy attractions in the Central of Viet Nam, Da Nang city is a great deal for you to pay a visit.

With tropical monsoon climate and mild temperatures almost during the year, Da Nang city is quite comfortable for you to visit. February to May is a great time to come to this city since there is not much rainfall at this time. Besides, December and January are also good with warm weather, a little bit rainy but not too much and beautiful sunset views.

Just like Hoi An, tourists who start from Chan May port can travel through Hai Van pass to reach Da Nang city. The outstanding overall view of this town will be exposed from the height when you stand on Hai Van pass.

The best attractions in Da Nang like Dragon bridge, Cham museum, Da Nang cathedral, My Khe beach, etc are a good mix of centuries-old pagodas, French colonial buildings, as well as tranquil beaches with clear blue waters, and verdant national parks. Compared to Hue and Hoi An, Da Nang has more activities for you to do so this city is a perfect destination if you travel with many children who want to have many activities to do. And you can also find the good shopping experiences for purchasing local handicraft at some big markets like Han market or Con market.

Dragon Bridge - Symbol of Da Nang city
Dragon Bridge – Symbol of Da Nang city

10. Amazing adventure through Hai Van pass

Port recommended: Chan May, Tien Sa

Besides the big landmarks of Central of Viet Nam like Hoi An ancient town, Hue citadel,etc. Hai Van pass and Lap An lagoon are outstanding spots for you to explore.

Hai Van pass which is considered as one of the most beautiful roads in Viet Nam can be ridden as a day-trip from either Chan May or Tien Sa port. From here, you can see the road snaking its way up through the steep hills, surrounded by lush tropical jungle. And I’m sure that you will be impressed by the magnificent view of the blue ocean and long white sand beaches. You can stop at the middle of this pass, sit and enjoy Vietnamese coffee at the local coffee shop and see the whole curve of modern Da Nang city from the southern side and the stunning image of Lang Co beach.

And on the way, we will stop by the city of ghosts Vinh An where you will be shocked by regal stone lions abound and glittering mosaic dragons which adorn the roof-ridges. And this place is a combination of different architectures of various sections like Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Vietnamese, Chinese and Western. You also have a chance to know the ancient custom of local people is building tombs for family members when they have not died yet.

Besides Vinh An, we will take you to the beautiful Lap An lagoon which is one of the remarkable natural landscapes in Hue. This place is highly recommended for people who love to take scenic photographs due to the beauty of nature there. It is considered a hidden mysterious heaven which has not been exploited by tourism much. And when you come there during the low tide period of the day, you will be able to walk on the sandy footpath emerging in the midst of water to see and enjoy the outstanding natural beauty in the most unique way.

Amazing adventure through Hai Van pass
Amazing adventure through Hai Van pass

11. Hue city

Port recommended: Chan May

Used to be a capital of Viet Nam, Hue nowadays have become a ideal destination for tourists. You can find the rich culture and history of Viet Nam with many beautiful and historical sites.

Coming Hue between January and April is the best since the rain and the sun are not too aggressive and the weather is temperate. It is neither too hot and humid during the day nor too cold during the night so it is quite comfortable for you to walk around and explore these interesting historical places. Especially, if you are lucky to visit during Tet (Lunar new year of Vietnamese), there are many traditional festivals, spring markets, traditional music performances for you to enjoy.

Not only are history and ancient imperial in Hue worth visiting, Hue is also well-known for sophisticated local cuisines, well-preserved royal music (Nha nhac) and friendly people with many local authentic villages. The culinary delicacies in Hue are diverse, and you cannot help noticing the presence of numerous vegetarian restaurants. And also, you should not forget about the tombs of Nguyen’s kings dynasty. And among them, Khai Dinh’s tomb is the most famous one for its luxurious and unique western-eastern architecture.

Exploring Hue citadel on a rainy day
Exploring Hue citadel on a rainy day

12. Ha Long half day on cruise

Port recommended: Ha Long international port

Located in the North, with the breathtaking natural view of more than 1600 islets and many mysterious caves, Ha Long bay is one of the most famous touristy attractions in VietNam which you must add into your “must-visit” travel list.

So, when is the perfect time to visit Ha Long bay? Well, if you do not mind about the prices and crowds, go when the weather is the best! September to December and March to June is the ideal and also the most crowded time in Ha Long among a year with pleasant weather and wide variety of authentic cultural festivals.

There are many activities for you to do in Ha Long bay like doing kayaking through the majestic caves or hiking, taking bamboo boats rowed by locals into the lagoons and sunbathing along the seacoast. To enjoy the beauty of Ha Long bay, we recommend you to take a Ha Long cruise, which would be an unforgettable experience. Just 4-5 hours on the cruise, you will explore many iconic islets in Ha Long bay like Thumb, Duck or Cock Fighting, etc. Also, they will have a luxurious lunch and tea break for you during the trip.

Enjoying the time on the cruise with family
Enjoying the time on the cruise with family

13. Ha Noi city tour

Port recommended: Ha Long international port

Mixing between the ancient atmosphere and the busy modern life with a variety of ancient temples and historical constructions, Ha Noi is not only a capital of Viet Nam but also a “must-visit” destination when you travel to the North of this S-shaped country.

Being different from other cities in the South,  Ha Noi has fully 4 seasons: Spring, Autumn, Winter and Summer. So, which season should we travel to Ha Noi? The best times are Spring (from February to April), Autumn (from October to November) since it is quite hot in Summer and cold, dry in Winter. Also, traveling around Spring-Autumn will give you a chance to meet many traditional cultural festivals at local villages.

Coming to this city, you will see the local life, meet friendly local people and explore the inner beauty of old houses which still retain their appearances from the 19th century while taking a walk around 36 old quarters. At the center of Ha Noi, there are many beautiful French-Vietnamese constructions, historical sites for you to visit like Ha Noi Opera House, Hoa Lo prison ,etc. Besides famous architecture and historic places, Ha Noi is also famous for the diverse gastronomy. You can try many delicious dishes with affordable prices like Pho beef noodles, Bun Cha, Banh Trang Nuong, etc.

Visiting a historical site: Long Bien bridge
Visiting a historical site: Long Bien bridge

14. Exploring the antique village Yen Duc

Port recommended: Ha Long International port

Located at Quang Ninh province also not so far from Ha Noi and Ha Long bay (from 40 minutes to 1 hour by car), Yen Duc nowadays is an ideal destination for tourists who want to explore and learn the traditional cultures, daily activities of Vietnamese wet rice civilization.

It would be wonderful if you can visit this village in the middle-year months since it is quite comfortable with high temperature, dry and warm climate; however, it would be crowded and pack up tourists during that time. So if you want to have less-crowded experiences, I highly recommend you to travel in Spring (from March to May) when the weather is cooler with some spring rains.

There are many interesting activities waiting for you at this village such as riding  bicycles around the area to enjoy the tranquil scenery, coming to local house where people make brooms for living, or visiting the old house of Mr.Te and learning about the traditional architecture, also the custom of people there. And you can immerse yourself into the rural life by participating the locals jobs like picking fruits from trees, learning to use fish-tackle (a common tool of Vietnamese to catch the fish in the pond), making Bánh Trôi Nước (a special traditional sticky cake of people in the North,etc. Especially, you will have a chance to enjoy folklore legends of Vietnamese told by local skillful artists through the unforgettable water puppet show.

Coming to this place, you will be impressed by the diversity of gastronomy of the Northern culture. With the agricultural tradition, there are many dishes made from vegetables at Yen Duc village such as Banana Flowers Salad, Yen Duc vegetarian spring roll, yellow flowers sticky rice sweet soup,etc.

Exploring the antique village Yen Duc
Exploring the antique village Yen Duc

15. The fishing-equipment maker Hung Hoc village

Port recommended: Ha Long International port

Well-known for the old and durable tradition of knitting the fishing equipment from bamboo like small boats,etc; Hung Hoc village in Quang Yen town, Quang Ninh province is a fresh and absorbing destination for tourists when coming to the North of Viet Nam.

Just around 30 minutes by car from Ha Long port, Hung Hoc village is great to visit anytime in the year due to the warm and dry climate. This destination is still new for Vietnamese and foreign tourists so you can come without worrying about the crowd.

Coming to this destination, you will see the beautiful, tranquil landscape of the rural village with houses decorated by many delicate fishing equipment, knitting workshops along the road. And you will hear the history and culture of this village through the local officer while walking to the house of local artist Mr.Six who has more than 40-year experiences with the traditional fishing-equipment knitting job. Spending your time talking with Mr.Six to know more about this job from preparation process to the final products. After that, you can go to local factories and workshops to learn more about the repairing and maintaining progress of bamboo boats. And you can visit the local food market Song Chanh to enjoy the fresh, delicious local seafood dishes here.

Well, is it exciting after you finished our list? So, what are you waiting for? Contact us – Xin Chao Private Viet Nam Tours to customize your tours following your interests and requests at your preferable visiting destinations. Our knowledgeable and capable local experts will give you the needed information so that you can have enough reference to organize your own tour at your own pace. Your comfort and satisfaction during the tour is our priority.