Southern Vietnam

A view from the viewing deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - By Justin Mott

From island oases to the dynamic streets of Saigon, southern Vietnam splits its identity between the country's vibrant urban energy and its mellow countryside.

Playing the part of a younger, more rambunctious sibling to its northern and central neighbours, the southern region holds everything from sun-soaked riverscapes to white-sand island beaches, not to mention the ever-modernising economic heart of the country.

 Start off in the sensory overload that is Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis where humble mom-and-pop shops share street space with modern skyscrapers, marrying the city's rich, cosmopolitan history with contemporary architecture. Beyond the city limits lies the languid pace of the Mekong Delta, where daily life often takes place on water and farmland rolls out as far as the eye can see.Offshore, the southern islands boast a combination of pristine coastlines and modern Vietnamese history. Tourist development has exploded on Phu Quoc, where accommodations and services range from modest to five-star, while Con Dao to the east remains far quieter a destination, dotted with only a handful of tourism providers but also some of Vietnam's most untouched island landscapes.

Back on the mainland, Vung Tau offers as a modest beach town for weekends away from Saigon as well as a dash of colonial history. Further up the road, Mui Ne draws travellers to its own stretch of shoreline thanks to a laid-back beach vibe and reputation as the kite-surfing capital of Vietnam.

Top destinations in Southern Vietnam