A short ride from Saigon and you will immerse yourselves in fresh air away from the turbulent and noisy urban life.
1. Cao Minh Tourist Area – A version of the Sword Lake
Around 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cao Minh Tourist Area in Dong Nai Province offers nature lovers a serene weekend spot with its green trees and grass carpets.
The ecotourism spot has three lakes with emerald green waters, with the one in the middle of the place having a small tower that evokes a feeling of being in Hoan Kiem (Sword Lake) in Hanoi.
Entry tickets costs VND15,000 ($ 0.65) while visitors can also opt to camp overnight at VND70,000 ($ 3) per person, and there are also around 30 homestays along the lakes.
If you visit as a group, try some outdoor activities to recharge your batteries such as rowing, fishing or sliding on a zip line.
2. Tri An Lake
Tri An Lake, around 75 kilometers from Saigon, is one of the top camping destinations in southern Vietnam but has been overlooked by tourists.
The lake is blessed with around 40 small islands, of which Dong Truong and O (eagle) are considered the most beautiful and beguile tourists with their pristine beauty where visitors can feel free to take a camping trip.
Camping is prohibited in the rest of the lake area, which stores water for the Tri An hydropower plant.
From a wharf at Dong Truong, visitors can hire a boat or canoe for VND110,000-130,000 to glide over the crystal blue waters of the lake on a 40-minute trip to O Island, which is right next to Dong Truong.
Since these deserted islands are still off the beaten path, tourism services are not fully developed: There are no luxury hotels or fancy restaurants, only homestays where you can stay the night for VND120,000 per room.
3. Mini Ha Long Bay
Buu Long Park, which is about an hour’s drive from Saigon downtown, is dubbed a mini version of the UNESCO-recognized Halong Bay thanks to its mix of rocky mountains rising above clear waters.
Long An Lake at the foot of Long An Mountain, which was created over hundreds of years as locals mined stones, is an enthralling sight and one that is waiting to be discovered.
Buu Long Park has places for worship. Buddhists can visit Buu Phong Pagoda built in the 17th century on top of Binh Dien Mountain and Long Son Thach Dong Pagoda.
Don’t worry about going hungry here since there are several restaurants. There is a hotel for resting after a day exploring the lakes, a zoo and other interesting sites in the park.
Trung Kien, Nguyen Quy