What to do in Ho Chi Minh City
The last 2 days of our Vietnamese adventure were spent in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly the city of Saigon. We were surprised that many of the locals throughout Vietnam still refer to Ho Chi Minh City as Saigon, a city that was constantly on the nightly news during my childhood and early teens. Here are a few ideas for what to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City
Cap Town Hotel
The Cap Town Hotel is a competitively priced hotel in the heart of the District 1, within walking distance to many of Ho Chi Minh City’s major attractions. The Staff welcoming and helpful. The bed and room were comfortable and the bathroom had a powerful shower.
Advantages…In the heart of District one, close to many tourist attractions, shopping, markets, restaurants and bars.
Comfort level…Good, clean rooms, Staff helpful and welcoming.
War Remnants Museum
The Vietnam War is part of Australia’s history so a visit to the War Remnants Museum is a must. Told from a Vietnamese point of view, it is a thought provoking testament to the horrors of war. On display outside the Museum are some of the types of planes, helicopters and tanks that were used in this conflict.
Beware of taxi scammers outside the Museum, (especially the guy in the “silver” taxi) make sure you are getting into a REAL taxi.
The Reunification Palace (also known as the Independence Palace), is a short walk from the War Remnants Museum. The Reunification Palace was built in the 1960’s and was home to the South Vietnamese President until the Communist tanks crashed through the gates on the 30th of April 1975, signifying the fall of Saigon.
The Reunification Palace is a unique time capsule to this period and a tribute to 1960’s architecture and 1970’s style. The basement is a bunker that is set up as a war room complete with radio transmitters and gives insight into the intelligence and communication during Vietnamese War.
Ben Thanh Market
Not far from Cap Town Hotel is the Ben Thanh Market. Ben Thanh Market is huge and sells items such as souvenirs, Vietnamese coffee, clothing, luggage, bags and street food. Ben Thanh Market is cheap, lively and a fun place to soak up a little local colour.
Restaurants and Bars
District 1 has many world class restaurants and bars. You will find not only Vietnamese and French cuisines but cuisines from all over the World making Ho Chi Minh City a fine dining capital.
For the budget conscious there are small restaurants and carts selling delicious Vietnamese favourites such as;
Pho, a noodle soup of either beef or chicken, my favourite is beef.
Banh Mi, a baguette with fillings that are a fusion of Vietnamese and French ingredients.
Banh Xeo a crispy Vietnamese crepe filled your choice of ingredients.
Spring Rolls either fried or fresh are a Vietnamese staple.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh City – Out of Town
We had the choice of two tours on our last day in Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels tour or the Mekong Delta tour, although we would have liked to have done both the Mekong Delta tour won out.
We were picked up between 8:30 – 9:00 am For our Mekong Delta Tour. We drove for around 1 ½ hours from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta where we boarded the motorboat to the villages of My Tho and Ben Tre. Some of the highlights of our visit were;
Hanging out with some friendly bees and sampling honey at a honey farm.
Learning the process of coconut candy making.
Trying exotic Vietnamese fruits.
Being entertained with traditional music.
Getting up close and personal with a python.
Going for a sampan ride on the shady canals.
Taking the motorboat to a freshwater floating fish farm.
A delicious five course lunch.
A visit to the very tranquil Vinh Trang Pagoda complex.
We really enjoyed our day on the Mekong Delta. There are a few different variations to the tours that visit this area, some include a visit to the market and cooking demonstration, just pick one that suits you.
For those with more time in this region there are longer Mekong River cruises between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap in Cambodia, some take in the splendour of Ankor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Avalon Waterways is one of the cruise lines that cruise the Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia. Avalon Waterways have different itinerary options for those who would like to spend longer in this fascinating part of the World.
Too quickly our week in Vietnam was over and definitely not enough time to explore all that Vietnam has to offer.
In visiting Vietnam, we discovered warm people who were happy to share their history and culture, colourful cities that fill you with excitement and beauty that leaves you breathless. Thank you to the people of Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City for making our stay in Vietnam a trip to remember.
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