The southern area of Vietnam normally includes the Mekong Delta, but as its culture and way of life differs radically from the rest of the country, it has a section of its own.
The rest of the South is dominated by Ho Chi Minh City, easily the largest centre of population in the country. It has a range of attractions, mostly concentrated around District One. However, there are several interesting places in other districts – Cho Lon, located in the old Saigon area and better known as Chinatown, is an obvious example. Although not far in distance, visits to other districts have to take the city traffic into account, often making journey times much longer than expected.
The extent of Ho Chi Minh City's urban sprawl means that many of the attractions in the region are some distance.
Ho Chi Minh City's location beside the Saigon River opens up possibilities for waterborne transport. Fast boats and hydrofoils ply routes to and from locations in the Mekong Delta, and longer trips can take visitors to Phnom Penh in Cambodia via the Bassac River and the border gate at Chau Doc.
Can Gio mangrove forest reserve, Vung Tau, the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai Holy See can be day excursions, but Phan Thiet, Con Dao, and Phu Quoc need at least two or three days to make the trip worthwhile.
In the extreme south-west corner of the Vietnamese mainland is Ha Tien, a little-visited province next to the Cambodian border with a variety of places of interest. A pleasant way to get there is by boat along a canal linking the Bassac River to the Gulf of Thailand.
The tropical weather all over the south is the most predictable in Vietnam. There is little variation in temperature between summer and winter, and the monsoon season starts and finished more or less as expected.