Also known as Saigon, the city of Ho Chi Minh is the largest in Vietnam. This city has the remains of past, and shows visitor glimpse of Vietnamese future. The city can be little noisy, hot and chaotic at times, but the wonderful people and amazing touristy spots make visit of every traveller pleasant. The city has remanence of Vietnam War scattered throughout and when you’ll visit them you’ll be teleported to the past, such is the charm of them. For foodies this city is like every day carnival. Street food in here is lip smacking and one must try it or the trip feels incomplete. Despite of not being the capital of Vietnam, this city is as grand as it could get. A trip to Vietnam is incomplete without visit to Saigon. Here are top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Independence Palace – Also known as Reunification Palace was the former residence of South Vietnam’s president and palace of French Governor before that. Tanks that crashed in t6o end the war are still in premises. Now it’s a museum with meeting rooms, president’s living quarters, bunker.
War Remnants Museum – This museum is home to remains that witnessed the atrocities on Vietnamese people during the war. There is a helicopter with rocket launchers, fighter plane, tank, bombs, tiger cages (use to imprison the political prisoners), guillotine (from French men) on display.
Notre Dame Cathedral – Located in the heart of the city, cathedral is built with neo Romanesque features, red brick imported from Marseille, stained glass window, along with a bell tower and small garden. On one occasion statue of Virgin Mary in front has shed real tears and considered a miracle.
Jade Emperor Pagoda – Also known as Tortoise Pagoda is dedicated to Taoist god known as the King of Heaven. It also has a shrine of goddess of fertility Kim Hua. It is fine symbolism of Mahayanist sect of Buddhism. Walls having intricate woodwork and roof with fine artistry, this temple is must visit.
Cu Chi Tunnel – This is 100 plus km network of tunnels used by Viet Cong during the war. These tunnels weren’t only hiding places but served as supply routes, storage areas, and even living quarters. It saved soldiers from heavy bombings. It is must see, and an hours reach from city.
Bitexco Tower – This 68 storeyed tower is popular for its observation deck on 48th floor that offers stunning views of the city. ON upper floors too you can enjoy vistas by visiting cafes and bars in tower. This tower resembles like a lotus (National flower of Vietnam) and also has a helipad.
Central Post Office – It was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the designer behind Eiffel Tower. It is a perfect example of gothic and French colonial architecture. Arched hallways, intricate marble floor, wall paintings, are delights of this place. Out from main office you can also buy souvenirs, postcards.
Cao Dai Temple – This temple respects all religions and works to promote tolerance through world. It is exemplary work of Baroque and Oriental architecture, with very ornately decorated dragon wrapped pillars, seven-headed cobras and ceilings of sky blue. This Cao Dai temple of Saigon is best.
BinhTay Market – This is the place you must hit for local experience. This ever bustling complex consists of a clock tower and a courtyard. You’ll find plenty of food stalls, handicrafts, lacquerware, and lots of fresh supplies. It is here you will find the true household taste of Vietnamese dishes.
Opera House – This piece of French colonial architecture is perfect to hang out and catch up with acts of dance, circus arts, with a Vietnamese twist through folk instruments. You can enjoy the show along with the dinner in here. Visiting this place will your truly glocal experience in Ho Chi Minh City.
City Museum – Again this was designed by the artist behind Eiffel Tower. It has served as governor’s residence, residence of Japanese occupiers, and now exhibits the vast Saigon history. Some of the collections here include ceramics, ancient maps of city, and marriage costumes of various sects.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall – This beautiful French colonial style building is not open for tourists to get inside, but restricted only for use by Vietnamese civil servants. Though after evenings this place lits up beautifully and transforms into a perfect backdrop for amazing nocturnal pictures.
Try Bowl of Pho – Vietnamese food is must try when you’re here, especially Pho which is traditional noodle soup. You can also get added toppings to it, along with beef or pork. You must already be feeling overwhelmed, but to complement this experience, also try the Banh Mi sandwich.
Hop on a River Cruise – After sunset this city looks more beautiful, this you’ll get to know on a river cruise. Most of them are dragon boats, and offer on board dining along with live music. This experience is bound to take you back in time. It will hardly cost you somewhere around $50 pp.
History Museum – Formerly a French colonial villa, is now a history museum located in the botanical gardens. It exhibits artefacts dating back to more than 4000 years old, and many collectibles that then Vietnamese courts received from foreign travellers. It also has national weaponry showcase.