With a population of over 10million souls and counting, Ho Chi Minh City is the very definition of a heaving urban organism. For the first time visitor, it is this aspect that makes it such an exhilarating place to be. For those on a longer-term stay, however, the novelty of breathing in toxic fumes and weaving through a somewhat dystopian concrete jungle in the tropics can wear off quickly. Solace, however, is surprisingly easy to discover. Most head for the resorts on the coast or the emerald green tapestry of the Mekong Delta, but this vast area of mangrove forest on the southern fringes of the city is a viable alternative for those who wish to explore. The muddy beaches on the far edge of the island are nothing to write home about, but the journey through the dense forest is pretty fascinating. There's a terrible zoo/animal torture chamber for the masochistic, but the sheer pleasure of being out of the city in relatively untouched surrounds is enough to please most.