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Boat Trips and Tours in Ho Chi Minh

Boat tours from Ho Chi Minh City remain a must-do activity for the discerning traveler — imagine the wind through your hair, the water lapping at the boat, while a hawker makes her way in a canoe, her sing-song voice calling out the day’s offerings.

It may feel like a time gone by, but such scenes are commonplace on the Saigon River.

Ever since the city’s foundation, rivers and waterways have played an integral part in the local landscape — not only for agriculture and industry, but also for transport and religion.

Much has changed since then — rice paddies and water buffalo have given way to busy streets and skyscrapers. But the river remains, and with it, the enchanting promise of better things waiting to be discovered downstream.

Here's all you need to know about boat tours, some of the most invigorating outdoor activities from Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Min City boat tours offer visitors the opportunity to explore the city or the surrounding area. The tour options and activities are varied, making it easy to find one that fits your preferences.

Water puppet show and dinner cruise in Ho Chi Minh City

If you prefer the finer things in life, this half-day boat tour is the perfect option for you — as it provides you with a glimpse into the celebrated art of Vietnamese water puppetry.

An air-conditioned van will pick you up at your District 1 Hotel, and take you to the famous Golden Dragon Theater.

Here, you’ll experience the unique storytelling style while learning more about Vietnamese history and culture.

After enduring the antics of ever-mischievous Uncle Teu, the most popular character of the show, you’ll make your way to your cruise boat.

Aboard, you’ll enjoy the breathtaking nightly cityscapes and a delicious Vietnamese dinner, as you cruise down the Saigon River, bringing this half-day boat tour to a fitting end.

Full-day Ho Chi Minh City speed boat tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels

Ho Chi Minh City also features boat tours that start in the city, but then head out to some of the region's most famous attractions, such as the Cu Chi Tunnels. Situated northwest of the city, it's the perfect destination for a full-day boat tour from Ho Chi Minh City.

The famous Cu Chi Tunnels are a symbol of Vietnamese resistance, and no visit to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without them. Gliding your way up the Saigon river on a speed boat is arguably one of the best and most memorable ways to travel to the tunnels!

Immerse yourself in the Cu Chi Tunnels with the opportunity to explore the tunnels and even fire a rifle. Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch at a local resort, before heading back to the city.

Full-day Mekong Delta boat tour from Ho Chi Minh City

Another region that’s perfect for exploring on a Ho Chi Minh City boat tour is the Mekong Delta. The delta is the economic and agricultural heartbeat of Southern Vietnam and the main reason why the city grew into what it is today.

This boat tour starts and ends in Ho Chi Minh City, and you’ll get to experience the Mekong Delta to its fullest. Take in the villages and hundreds of canals, as the speed boat skim across serene waterways.

Along the way, you’ll stop at Cao Dai Temple, various pagodas and local artisanal workshops. For lunch, you’ll get to choose from a large selection of Vietnamese dishes, including local specialties such as fried elephant ear fish and lemongrass chicken.

Ho Chi Minh City luxury speed boat tour of the Mekong Delta

This speedboat tour offers a more luxurious experience without sacrificing any of the authenticity that the Mekong Delta is famous for. Board your speed boat in Ho Chi Minh City and make your way directly to My Tho — the center of the Mekong Delta.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be able to sample tropical fruit and regional specialties while exploring the Delta up close in a rowboat. Ho Chi Minh City’s dazzling pace will feel worlds away, as you slowly paddle through the Cai Rang Floating Market.

You can also explore Mekong Delta in a kayak day trip or choose to visit a local coconut plantation by bicycle and sample the end product at a local coconut candy factory.

Finally, cap off this full-day boat tour with lunch on a small island, before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.

Half-day Ho Chi Minh City night cruise and dinner

This half-day Ho Chi Minh City boat tour combines different modes of exploration into one seamless experience. Ho Chi Minh City by night is a sight you’ll be sure to remember – especially as you laze your way down the Saigon River.

Onboard, you’ll enjoy a delicious dinner accompanied by traditional Vietnamese music and dancers.

But before all that, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Ho Chi Minh City either by scooter or bicycle.

Both options allow you to fully experience all that this energetic city has to offer, as you make your way to the river pier and the start of your cruise. Don’t worry about working up an appetite — the onboard dinner is absolutely sumptuous!

How much do boat tours in Ho Chi Minh City cost?

Boat tours in Ho Chi Minh City differ in prices, depending on the distance traveled and the activities they include.

Boat tours in Ho Chi Minh City are more affordable, with the Ho Chi Minh City night cruise and dinner tour starting at US$50 per person.

The Ho Chi Minh City dinner cruise with the water puppet show will cost approximately US$60 per person.

Boat tours leaving from Ho Chi Minh City are usually full-day tours and tend to be more expensive. The full-day speed boat tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels will cost US$100 per person.

The full-day Mekong Delta speed boat tour will cost about US$120 per person, while more sophisticated options like the luxury speed boat tour of the Mekong Delta will cost US$130 per person.

What are the highlights?

Old Saigon and its surrounding area feature a plethora of attractions and places to visit on a Ho Chi Min City boat tour.

Water Puppet Shows

This ancient form of storytelling is best experienced up close and personal. Watch the antics of an entire cast of wooden puppets, as they bring Vietnam’s rich past to life. The show is performed in a waist-deep pool, with puppeteers controlling the puppets from behind a screen.

This art form dates from the 11th century and was a way for villagers to entertain each other when the rice fields flooded. A truly unique and authentic glimpse into rural Vietnamese life.

Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House was built by the French in the 19th century and is one of the best examples of Colonial-French architecture. It was modeled after the Petit Palais art museum in Paris — an embodiment of the French attempts to create a “Paris in the East.”

The elaborate decorations, facades and reliefs still attract thousands of visitors who come to marvel at this French-Vietnamese amalgamation. Ballets and operas are still performed in this 500-seater theater.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is the undisputed heartbeat of Southern Vietnam and the main driven force behind this region's economy. The delta plain is riddled with a labyrinth of canals and waterways — taking water to and from rice fields, plantations and towns.

The area is home to the iconic Cai Rang Market, as well as the less famous floating Market of Cai Be. Both these floating markets are famous for the colorful scenes that local merchants and their wares create.

The Mekong Delta is also the birthplace of Caodaism — a unique Vietnamese religion embodied in the Cao Dai Temple.

Natural splendor is a hallmark of the Mekong Delta, and nowhere is it as evident as at the Can Gio Reserve. This UNESCO reserve is home to rare species like the Vietnamese saltwater crocodile and the highly endangered Dugong.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Maybe one of the most iconic symbols of the Vietnamese liberation struggle, the Cu Chi Tunnels remain a must-see attraction in Southern Vietnam.

These man-made tunnels allowed the Vietnamese to fight the unconventional war that they became famous for. But to really understand the level of Vietnamese conviction, you’ll have to stand in one of these tunnels yourself.

How long does a boat trip last?

Ho Chi Minh City boat tours are usually half-day tours that tend to last from 4 to 6 hours.

Boat tours from Ho Chi Minh City that explore the regions around the city are full-day tours and last between 8 and 12 hours.

Where do boat tours leave from?

Half-day Ho Chi Minh City boat tours usually include a pickup service from District 1 hotels. Alternatively, you can meet up at the tour company’s premises or the Saigon Opera House.

Full day boat tours from Ho Chi Minh City usually depart from the Saigon Waterbus Station, but a pickup service is available for District 1 Hotels.

When is the best time for a boat trip in Ho Chi Minh City?

The best time for a half-day boat tour in Ho Chi Minh City is early evening. It allows you to see the city come to life around you, offering amazing photo opportunities.

Early morning is the best time for full day boat tours to destinations outside the city, leaving ample time for all the day’s activities.

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is between December and March, when the weather is most agreeable.

Which other water activities can be done in Ho Chi Minh City?

Travel tips

  • Always wear sunscreen when on an outdoor boat tour.
  • Take an umbrella and extra water.
  • Insect repellent is suggested when heading into rural Vietnam.
  • Wear appropriate clothing when visiting temples and pagodas.