Going island hopping from Ho Chi Minh City is a great way to spend a few days in Vietnam. Before our trip, we did a lot of research on what would be our best options. There are a few different ways you can go about this, and we will share what we have learned with you.
Island hopping from Ho Chi Minh City is best done on day-tours to either Monkey Island or the Mekong Delta. Thanh An Island and Long Son Island are also within driving distance from the city. Your last option is to fly to Phu Quoc, Con Dao or Hon Tam.
There are quite a few things to know about the different islands and your options for getting to them. We will dive deeper into each option so you can know what to expect before making a decision.
Ho Chi Minh Island Hopping Tour
The quickest and simplest way to go island hopping from Saigon is simply by joining a tour group.
Around District 1 in particular, you can find an endless supply of travel agents looking to sell you day tours around the area. We recommend you look around for a bit before making a final decision on which tour company to go with if you want the best deal possible.
The two main tours you can choose from if you want to go island hopping from Saigon are either a trip to “Monkey Island” also known as Can Gio, or a trip down to the Mekong Delta.
Monkey Island Tour
A day trip to monkey island is your best option if you don’t want to spend more than a day away from the city.
The trip to Monkey Island usually lasts about 8 hours from start to end and will cost you 25-100 USD depending on what kind of tour you are looking for.
We have written up a full guide on this tour here. But to sum it up quickly: You wake up early, take the bus to Dan Xay Bridge which takes about 2 hours in total. From here you get to experience a few different islands either by ferry, or speedboat depending on your particular tour.
If you are looking for a “paradise island” kind of tour, this is your best option close to Ho Chi Minh City, as there are a few nice beaches (and some not so nice) along the way here.
The highlight of this tour is seeing the wild monkies and riding a boat down the mangrove full of wildlife.
We recommend this tour for the smoothest trip possible but it is a bit more expensive than the ones you can find around District 1.
Mekong Delta Tour
This tour is a little different from the Monkey Island tour, as you will need to travel a bit further. A bus ride to the Mekong Delta can take up to 5 hours.
This is also not really an “island-hopping” tour, as much as a ride down the river to see all the beauty of the Mekong Delta. Don’t get me wrong, there are multiple islands here, and it’s a fantastic experience. But if you are looking for sandy beaches skip ahead to the next section of this article. 🙂
If you decide to head down to the Mekong Delta we recommend spending at least a night down there. Otherwise, you won’t have much time for exploring since you will be mostly stuck on a bus the whole day.
If one day is enough, this tour down to the Mekong Delta is a good option. It doesn’t go too far into the Mekong Delta, so you won’t be spending most of the day one a bus. Otherwise, I recommend looking around in District 1 for multi-day tours.
More Islands Near Ho Chi Minh City
Your next option is to explore either Thanh An or Long Son Island. Both of these islands are within driving distance from Ho Chi Minh City.
You can make your way to these islands on your own, by bus, and explore the surrounding areas.
Thanh An is located a short 70 KM from Saigon. The easiest way to get there is by bus from Saigon to Can Gio. And from there, the islands are only accessible by small wooden boats from Can Thanh Town. The boat ride over to Thanh An takes about 45 minutes.
On the islands, you will find a relaxed, more traditional Vietnamese lifestyle. Since the island is not very easily accessible there are no cars or large buildings there. All you fill see are a few scooters now and then.
The island only has about 5000 people living on it. You will have a great time enjoying sea-food and chatting with the locals
Long Son Island
Just half an hour outside Vung Tau, you will find Long Son Island.
For long this island located 100 KM outside Ho Chi Minh City was not inhabited by humans. Now you can find lots of oyster farms, as well as salt farms on this large green island.
The Island is easily accessible by scooter or taxi from Vung Tau, which is only 2 hours outside Saigon.
Long Son is a great option to check out. Since it is located so close to Vung Tau, you can see both places in a day, before heading further up the coast to enjoy the beautiful beaches.
On Long Son the main attraction is a temple called “Nhà Lớn” or Great House. The island is also known for its delicious oysters and seafood. If you are looking for a relaxed destination, this is a good option only a few hours outside Ho Chi Minh City.
Islands Further from Ho Chi Minh City
To get to the islands beyond the four options mentioned above, we recommend flying as the travel time by ground transport will be so long.
If your money is worth more than your time, there are ways to get to the islands further away from the city by bus and boat as well.
Flying with a budget airline in Vietnam is surprisingly cheap. You can easily find one-way tickets for under USD 30 each way.
Con Dao Islands
The Con Dao Islands are located off the coast of Vung Tau. It is a beautiful group of 16 islands, where only the main island “Con Son” is inhabited.
While we recommend flying over to save yourself a lot of hassle, taking a bus/boat combo can be a good option as well, as the flights over to the Con Dao Islands can be quite expensive (upwards of USD 150!). Taking the bus to Vung Tau, and a speedboat from there may be a good option if you don’t get sea-sick.
We have a full transport guide for Con Dao here that you should check out for more details.
More About the Island
This island used to be a prison camp set up by the French to combat Vietnam’s independence movement. If you would like you could get a tour of the prison cells they used.
Beyond the island’s dark past, the island now thrives.
For beach seekers, this island offer beautiful white-sand beaches stretching along the island. Their water is full of life. You can find everything from Barracudas to Turtles here. In fact, if you are lucky you may even get to see the turtles laying their eggs on the beach.
Setting up an island hopping tour here is easily done on the island. There are multiple people that will be happy to take you around to the surrounding islets.
Phu Quoc is a beautiful island right on the southern border between Cambodia and Vietnam. The island is quite a tourist destination, and you will find everything you could possibly need here.
We recommend flying over to Phu Quoc from Ho Chi Minh city, as traveling on the ground will take you at least a day in a bus, and won’t save you very much money either.
The island is full of resort hotels, that has “private beaches”. We were not rushed away by any of the hotel employees while staying on them, but it is something to keep in mind.
On the north side of the island, there are more beaches that are not private for you to enjoy.
Just like Con Dao, Phu Quoc is surrounded by lots of little islands.
The An Thoi archipelago is composed over 15 smaller islands. Only ne of them, Hon Thom is populated while the rest are there for you to explore.
Some of the best islands to check out are:
Hon Thom, which you can find hotels and restaurants on.
Hon Mong Tay, which is shaped like a fingernail, and worth visiting only for the pictures alone.
Hon Vong, an untouched paradise for those looking for total tranquility.
Hon Gam Ghi, another untouched favorite. It is a little further away than the rest, but has beautiful rock formations, and of course, a beautiful white sand beach.
You can easily hire a boat to take you around island hopping from Phu Quoc, or if you are adventurous, you could rent your own boat.
Hon Tam outside Nha Trang
Ho Tram is one of the islands located right outside of Nha Trang. The region can easily be accessed from Ho Chi Minh City.
We recommend flying to Nha Trang, as there are multiple low-fare aviation companies flying there for as low as USD 18 each way.
From Nha Trang, you can book day trips over to the islands.
Depending on your preference, you can book island hopping tours that will only cover one or two islands in a day, or all four in a single day.
Obviously the one or two island tours give you a lot more time to snorkel and enjoy the islands. But if you are strapped for time, rushing around to see all the island can also be an option
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