Also known by its former name, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City sits in the South of Vietnam. It is thought of as the commercial capital of Vietnam, although the official capital is Hanoi. Regardless of its status, Saigon is the biggest city in Vietnam and is an interesting mélange of modernity and antiquity. With clear influences from the French colonial period as well as many distinctly Vietnamese features, it is a diverse city that definitely deserves some of your time – do make sure to spend some time here on Vietnamese adventures.
Ho Chi Minh City can be a bit daunting to those who have just arrived so it helps to come with at least a vague plan of what you want to see and do. If you’re looking for things to weave into your itinerary, read on and let us inspire you.
The War Remnants Museum is not an easy place to visit. There are some shocking exhibits on display, showing the true horrors of the controversial Vietnam War. But, this museum is one of the most important places in the city, and an important Vietnam War site to see, as it gives details of the war from a different point of view. Forget what you’ve learned before – if you’ve learned anything about the war – and go into the museum with an open mind.
There are plenty of tour operators willing to take visitors to the murky waters of the Mekong River. Fringed by lush rice paddies, the Mekong River, on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, flows through some exceptionally beautiful scenery. Hop aboard one of the numerous river cruise boats that ply its waters and soak up the spectacular landscape.
One of the tunnels’ entrances
If you’re interested in learning more about the conflict that took place in Vietnam and is curious to learn how the Viet Cong was so successful against the heavily armed U.S. troops then head to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These tunnels form an underground network that played a pivotal role in the victory of the Viet Cong. You will see examples of some of the booby traps that were laid to trap American soldiers and learn about what life was like in the tunnels.
As with all the towns and cities in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh has some excellent markets. A visit to Vietnam can’t go without browsing through the markets. The difference with the markets here is that they are on a much larger scale than elsewhere in the country. Ben Thanh and An Dong markets are two of the most popular. Here, you will find souvenirs, clothes, local handicrafts, food, furniture, and more. Make sure you’ve perfected the art of haggling before you attempt to buy anything – this is all part of the fun!
The Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City is more than just a magnificent edifice. What it represents is so much more important than what it looks like. It was here that the first tanks in Saigon landed, marking the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. The communist Viet Cong forces took over the palace in a spectacle that was watched by people all over the world. Nowadays, the architecture seems at odds with the rest of the city. Nevertheless, it is a site of great historical importance and should be explored.
One of the best things about Vietnam is its cuisine. From huge steaming bowls of pho to fragrant curries flavored with coconut milk and lemongrass, everything on the menu is guaranteed to delight. The best thing is that Vietnamese food is accessible to everyone. Whether you have the cash to splash in fancy restaurants or your budget will only permit street food, everything is delicious. Grab yourself some bun cha or xoi and wash it all down with an extremely sweet Vietnamese coffee or Bia Hoi beer.
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