Far from the madding crowd

By Thuy Hang, Thanh Nien News

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In Ho Chi Minh City, there are plenty of choices for weekend activities. But for those who want to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city, there are not as many options.
Below are five emerging destinations for weekend getaways. Though they are not too close to downtown, they are not too far either and are easily accessible.
1. The Boat Club Residences in District 9

People play water sports at the Boat Club Residences. Photo credit: BCR

It takes around 35 minutes to travel from the downtown area to this resort complex located in the city’s east. The Boat Club Residences is an ideal place to relax, have fun and get yourself recharged for a new week.
The resort is straddled by two rivers, giving it a fresh, cool ambience and beautiful landscapes. It is great for outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, sports (mini soccer, tennis, paintball, etc.), cycling, and rowing.
The resort has a riverside restaurant that can serve around 300 guests indoors and 1,000 outdoors a wide range of Vietnamese dishes.
How to get there:
You can take bus No.88 from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to Long Truong Market in District 9, and then bus No. 141 to get to The Boat Club Residences.
2. La Maison de Campagne in Cu Chi District

The pool at La Maison de Campagne. Photo courtesy of the resort

Located in a rural village in the suburban district of Cu Chi, this French-style bed and breakfast can be a perfect place for your weekend retreat.
The small villa is covered by green trees. The charming architecture and decoration, a nice swimming pool and spa, attentive staff and good food will make a night here worthwhile.
It has only five bedrooms and is quiet, making you feel like you are at home. You can laze by the pool, read books, walk along a shaded trail lined by bamboo trees. Enjoy your moments at the spa – an ancient house where you can sometimes hear the chatter of birds and smell the slight fragrance of white lotus in a small pond at the corner of the garden. You will forget all the noise and dust of Saigon streets.
Since it is located in the countryside, you can ride bikes. There is an interesting library and a CD collection that will keep you occupied in the evening.
You can directly call the villa to book a room or book it via Agoda. Its website is lamaisondecampagne.com.vn.
How to get there:
The villa is located on No. 12 Street 189, Binh My Ward, Cu Chi District. You can get there by motorbike or take a taxi.
3. Can Gio Biosphere Reserve in Can Gio District

Tourists go by canoe through the mangrove forest in Can Gio. Photo credit: ivivu

Located 40 km southeast of HCMC, the UNESCO-listed Can Gio Biosphere Reserve is a wetland. The site is an important wildlife sanctuary in Vietnam characterized by a wetland biosystem dominated by mangrove and many rare species.
There are a bunch of things you can do in Can Gio. The most popular destination is Vam Sat mangrove forest, where you can discover a rich and diverse flora and fauna, including such rare animal species as the spot-billed pelican and the smooth-coated otter.
You can visit the bird yard, the bat lagoon, the crocodile farm and take part in various activities like fishing for crabs, fish, and crocodiles, rowing, and bird watching.
If you want to have a relaxing time in the quiet and untouched forests, you can go by canoe through ditches and canals covered in mangrove. There are small huts in the forests for you to take a nap in.
The beach is also a popular destination. Can Gio Beach is pretty quiet, but since it is formed by silt washing downstream from the river, the sand is not as white and beautiful as elsewhere.
You can swim or sit on the beach and watch locals fish.
Monkey Island is also a fun destination. More than 1,000 monkeys will welcome you. You can shakes hands with them, feed them and take photos of them but watch out since they could grab your bag or glasses.
In Can Gio, seafood is more abundant and cheaper than in other places, but don’t forget to bargain while buying.
You can do a day trip to Can Gio, but if you want to stay overnight, there are several hotels there like Can Gio Resort, Hon Ngoc Phuong Nam Resort, and Tam Ngoc Resort.
How to get there:
From Ben Thanh Market, you can take bus No.20 to Binh Khanh Ferry in Nha Be District. Take the ferry and then bus No.90 to Can Gio Beach. On the way to the beach, you can stop to visit Vam Sat mangrove forest, Monkey Island and other places. Tell the bus driver where you want to stop.
Or you can get there by motorbike, taking following route: Ben Thanh Market – Tran Hung Dao – Calmette – Doan Van Bo – Tan Thuan – Huynh Tan Phat – Binh Khanh Ferry. After the ferry crossing, ride straight to the beach or visit other spots on the way.
4. Villa H2O in Hoc Mon District

Bungalows in Villa H2O resort. Photo courtesy of the resort

Spread over 2.5 hectares, Villa H2O is a pet-friendly property only 18 km from the city center. It has an outdoor pool, dining options and complimentary Wi-Fi access and parking.
The resort has all the trappings of the old South – hammocks swinging in the breeze, coconut shell-made dippers laid crosswise on the water jars, bullock carts fading to brown, glittering lift nets lying halfway on the river.
Each bungalow has air conditioning, cable TV and a refrigerator. The resort has a large restaurant next to the river that serves both Vietnamese and European dishes.
There is also a large fish pond where water sports or activities like hiking and fishing are arranged.
How to get there:
The resort is located at 1/4 C Dang Thuc Vinh Street, Hamlet 3, Dong Thanh village, Hoc Mon District. You can get there by motorbike or taxi.
5. Thao Dien Village in District 2

The Thao Dien Village is located along the banks of Saigon River. Photo credit of the resort

Set in a secluded, verdant garden and occupying 1.2 hectares along the banks of the Saigon River, Thao Dien Village is a tropical hideaway that is a mere 20 minutes away from the city center.
The tourist complex has four high-end restaurants (Vietnamese, Italian, Thai and Japanese), a swimming pool, a luxurious spa, and a 22-room boutique hotel housed in an all-white, three-floor villa.
Rooms feature hardwood floors, heavy antique furniture and vintage black-and-white photos of old Saigon and scarlet-hued lacquer paintings.
How to get there:
The complex is located at 189 - 197, 197/1 Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2. It is just a short boat ride from the Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 and 7 km by car from the city center.

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