Top Places To Visit in Ho Chi Minh City
Hotels and Homestays in Ho Chi Minh City
Weekend Getaways from Ho Chi Minh City
About Ho Chi Minh City
Where: VietnamFormerly known as Saigon, the largest city of Vietnam is a living and flourishing symbol of the resilient Vietnamese spirit. Despite several phases of conflict and political turmoils, Ho Chi Minh City lives on and how!Weather: Average temperature remains a comfortable 30 degree Celsius throughout July. But the minimum temperature drops to a pleasant 24 degree Celsius at night.
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Ho Chi Minh City
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Cu Chi Tunnels
No trip to HCMC is complete without a visit to Cu Chi tunnel. The heroic 250 km spider web tunnel underground has places for dining, living, fighting and meeting. Farmer by day and fighter by night, Cu Chi tunnels glorify the revolutionary spirit of Vietnamese people in their bitter war against the Americans.Squeezing through the narrow tunnels, a bigger realization dawned upon us. Freedom is the biggest gift one could have. Imagine living with near suffocation (air doesn’t flow in these tunnels, only small holes made on the ground keep the ventilation going)! Phew. How relieved we were to be breathing in fresh air and strolling freely on the same ground where a revolution occurred. I would like to believe we emerged with more empathy of the diversity around us.A gun shooting range at the Cu Chi is a much sought after activity by tourists. The loud shelling kept us away from it. After a heavily loaded day, we yearned for some light moments.
The Independence Palace
A landmark in Ho Chi Minh, this is the place where South and North Vietnam reunited, ending the acrimonious wars and hostility. We didn’t explore much here as time was ticking away for booking tickets for the much awaited Water Puppet Show in advance.Day2:Mekong Delta
Notre Dame Cathedral Nhà Thờ Đức Bà
Within walking distance are the Central Post Office and the mini Notre Dame Cathedral which gives you a sense of the city’s unique history.The Cathedral was built in the neoclassical architectural style and designed and constructed by the company of the famous architect Gustave Eiffel. The park near Notre Dame is just the place to experience Vietnam’s social life.
Ben Thanh Market
A hugely popular tourist activity and attraction is to visit the many markets of Saigon, and this should definitely be on the itinerary. Exploring the famous Ben Thanh Market for local eats and produce is surely something that needs to be on your list.Ben Thanh Market is always bustling and you can find local coffee beans for sale right next to a stall selling cheap jade and other semi-precious stones. You can find vendors selling items ranging from cheap clothing that reads iPho & souvenirs to fresh flowers and local snacks.Here is a walk around the market:&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;
Jade Emperor Hall
Emotionally drained by a barrage of disturbing information, I stopped at a roadside shack for a sip of iced green tea. The vendor, a middle-aged Vietnamese woman with remarkable geniality, helped me get to the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Lost for words, I pointed at the location on Google Maps marked by its Vietnamese name. She went inside and asked her aide, a pleasing young man, to take me to my destination. Soon he appeared with two helmets, one for him and one for me. I asked how much I had to pay him and he just smiled and said, "Nothing". We rode through the endless traffic on his motorbike for about fifteen minutes before arriving at the Pagoda. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and wished him well. It was a beautiful feeling.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Then we passed by to the magnificient City Hall~ yes City hall and it’s really beautiful.We also went to the Chu-Chi Tunnel, where we booked for a tour where it's a 1 hour ride in going there, then we went back the city, went to the opera house and up to the Saigon Sky Tower where we saw the full view of Ho Chi Minh City.
3:30 pm; From Wikipedia: It was formerly known as Independence Palace and was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. It was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was also the site of the end of Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 1975 when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. We were not allowed to enter the palace during our visit because of a rumored bomb or something. We actually saw from afar the guards scanning the whole area to rule out the said rumor. Because of that we just made funny poses with the cyclos parked outside of the palace.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport
Took Jetstar 3K551 to Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, from home in Singapore. This is a placement flight for my long haul flight on ANA and UA. *TRAVEL TIP: Flying out of SGN compared to SIN saves up to SGD$1000 at times!* SGN is also a modern and cosy airport to stop for a while in, and it has a pretty nice lounge with good food for star alliance gold members!
Cu Chi Tunnels
I knew a bit of history of Indochina War and the Cold War, but I really didn't understand the true human cost until I went there. There are some experiences which leave deep impact and make you think about human powers. Well, for me this was one of those :)We booked one day trip from our hotel and our tour guide was quite knowledgeable. I highly recommend to take tour guide instead of getting there alone.Short history of Cu Chi TunnelThe Cu Chi Tunnels are an absolutely enormous network of interconnecting tunnels underground in the Cu Chi region of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and a well-known historic vestige of the Vietnamese revolution.The tunnels were used by the Vietnamese soldiers in the 1960s as communication and supply routes, as well as hiding spots for surprise attacks against the American and living quarters.The Cu Chi Tunnel represented the will, intelligence and pride of the people of Cu Chi and symbolized the revolutionary heroism of Vietnam.
The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
This was on the top of our HCMC agenda. So all of us were excited about this unique water puppet show, especially the kids. However, the reviews were mixed. What better way than review it yourself? So we headed to Golden Dragon Water Puppet Show with high expectations.The performance commenced with melodious Vietnamese music, drums and a medley of instruments , performed live by artists on stage. The commentary though in Vietnamese, you can understand it, thanks to the accompanying leaflet shared. Ever watched fireworks in a puppet show, leave alone one inside water? The Golden Dragon had it all. What a spectacular show it was! Spellbound, we walked out with our lasting memory of Vietnam.Day 3:
Quán bia Pub Tip Top
Our second stop was Tip Top island. It was amazing- we were able to see the entire Halong Bay from above! We had to climb 600 steps, but it was totally worth it! The view from the top was breathtaking. In the summertime, tourists can enjoy sunbathing, kayaking or swimming in the sea. It was very cold in Ha Long Bay during our stay, so we were just walking around the island.TIP: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes on Halong Bay cruise. Climbing may be very tiring. It is not recommended for elderly and people with heart problems to go upon the hill.After few hours of walking around, we were very happy to come back on the ship. It was time for a lunch! We were surprised by the variety of food to choose from. Buffet included Vietnamese, Japanese and American food. It was so delicious! We didn’t manage to try everything but, as big fans of Asian food, we only ate Japanese and Vietnamese food.Desserts were delicious as well! Puddings, cakes and fruits were extremely tasty. Food on Halong Bay cruise looked great. It was a pleasure to take photos of these amazing dishes. It is great when the food both look and taste well.The thing we absolutely loved about Halong Bay cruise was live music! An awesome Philippinian band was singing songs in English, Vietnamese and Chinese languages. The people were dancing and singing with them. It was just awesome! Halong Bay cruise ended at three p.m., so we still had some time to work and sightseeing.Halong- general informationThere is a difference between Halong and Halong Bay. Halong is basically a town. There is really not much you can do in Halong.Halong Bay is mainly inhabited. There are only a few fisherman villages in the bay. The only way is to get there is to take Halong Bay cruise or hire a small boat to take you anywhere you want.We were planning to stay 1-5 week in Halong, but we came back to Hanoi earlier. Halong was too boring for us and also the weather was very bad.Halong Bay tips1. Mind the weather.It may be VERY cold in Halong Bay, especially during winter (November- March). We were pretty disappointed by the rain and cold. Most hotels are not prepared for the winter, so we were freezing all the time.We wouldn’t come back to Halong Bay in winter. It was difficult to take good photos because there was no sun during our weekly stay. We were lucky enough that two days before we left when we were on the cruise, the weather was better. The sun wasn’t shinning, but it wasn’t that cloudy either.The best time to visit Halong Bay is summer (April-October). You can enjoy swimming in the sea, sunbathing or taking awesome pictures.2. Rent a motorbike.Driving in Halong is quite easy. Streets are not crowded, and the topography is very nice. When you travel on a motorbike, you can fully explore the place. Halong is quite big, so you won’t be able just to walk around and expect to see everything.TIP: Halong is separated into two lands that are connected by the big bridge. It is worth to see both sides of Halong.3. One or two day trip is OK.All you should see in Halong Bay is… Halong Bay.There is no point in staying there longer than two days. We wish we could know it before because we were very bored during our week-long stay in Halong.We think that the best way of traveling to Halong Bay is to book 1 or 2-days trip from Hanoi. Most hotels have Halong Bay cruise and Halong Bay trips on offer. You can also use one of the local agencies to organise your travel. There are plenty of them in Hanoi’s Old Quarter area.4. Find out the names of the islands.There are hundreds of small islands in Halong Bay. Some of them have funny shapes and names. For example, there is a Thumb Island because it looks similar to human’s thumb.The most famous are ‘The kissing islands’ (some call them ‘The Fighting Cock islands’). They are small and situated very close to each other which is quite unusual in Halong Bay.Halong Bay in numbersThere are 1969 islands in Halong Bay.HaLong Bay is 500 million years old.Halong Bay has an area of around 1553 square meters.There are only 7 fishing villages in Halong Bay (sadly, fishermen and their families are extremely poor, so the government sends them on the mainland; Halong Bay fishermen villages are slowly getting extinct)Halong Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species.Ha Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1994.Halong Bay is home to 60 endemic faunal species.Halong is situated about 180 kilometres east of Hanoi.More than 220,000 people live in Halong.There are only three places like Halong Bay in the world (El Nido in the Philippines, Krabi in Thailand, Guilin in China).This trip was originally published on karolinapatryk's website
Emperor Jade Pagoda - Chùa Phước Hải (Điện Ngọc Hoàng)
Emperor Jade is one of the most impressive pagodas in Vietnam. The place is full of intricate carvings and depictions of deities including the Emperor Jade himself. The most popularly touted tourist attraction are the Cu Chi Tunnels which makes for a good day trip from Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh Post Office
A few steps from the Cathedral is their post office, designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower. We then decided to have the Vietnam fried pancakes, locally known as Banh Xeo. We didn’t know that it would be in such huge servings that most of us failed to finish what we ordered. But, all the same, it was delicious!
Cục Gạch Quán
Cuc Gach Quan + Sax N ArtBrad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s visit to Cuc Gach Quan in 2010 put this restaurant on the world map. Set in an old French Colonial house, it prides itself on fresh, countrysidestyle cooking (cucgachquan.com.vn). Post dinner, head to the best jazz club in town, Sax N Art, where you canenjoy contemporary jazzwith Vietnamese influences(saxnart.com).Temple Club
Enjoy Mediterranean food at its finest at Saffron where they greet you with a glass of sparkling wine and they won’t charge you for it! Saffron takes its cooking inspiration from Middle Eastern, Northern Africa, Greek, Italian, French and Spanish cuisine. What you will notice first off is the amazing decor – make sure to look up at the ceiling as soon as you enter inside. This Mediterranean Bistro offers signature dishes whose portions are huge size for a single person. If you like the classics try their cheese plate or crostinis to start, Escargot with mushrooms for your main meal and Chocolate bread pudding for dessert. Best in Show: Twice Cooked Lamb – the lamb is braised and pressed with mashed potato puree. For dessert enjoy the walnut and honey baklava served with pistachio ice cream.
The Long at Times Square – 57-69F Dong Khoi Street, District 1 This restaurant gets its name from its very long design. Their inspiration comes from the sidewalk cafes fond in France and Italy. Best in Show: The Bubble Promotion – Buy a bottle of sparkling wine and get four bar snacks for free. Bar snacks to try include: Classic Tomato Bruschetta and Pandan Chicken. Then order yourself a freshly made Margarita Pizza and finish off the feast with one of their gelato. You might have a problem to choose which gelato, as their collection is huge.
Enjoy a sunset drink at the Chill Sky Bar, a rooftop bar offering phenomenal views of the city (chillsaigon.com). A little away is Lemongrass, in a narrow shophouse in District 1. Listen to live music and enjoy a candle light dinner through your Vietnamese dinner that has a French touch (lemongrasssaigon.com).
Argentinian Steakhouse El Gaucho Restaurant
This is a steak lover’s haven, you can choose the type of steak you want, the serving size and the type of sauce you want. They have three types of breeds to choose from: USDA Prime, Back Angus and Certified Angus Beef. You can also choose your portion size – the Filet Steak and Rib Eye Steak are available in 250/350/500/1000 grams serving sizes; while the New York Striploin is available in 300/500 grams serving sizes. Steak is not the only thing on the menu – try a noteworthy salad like the Warm Goat Cheese on Toast served with grilled vegetables on top of mixed greens or a Nicoise salad. Or start your meal off with the El Gaucho Sampler Platter (Salchicha, Chorizo, Chicken, Mushroom) and Beef Empanadas. Best in show: USDA Prime Filet Steak with grilled Asparagus and Red Wine sauce with a glass of Merlot wine. If you think you still have room after the feast try out the Dulce de leche for dessert.
Hoa Tuc Restaurant
Get ready for a romantic night out at Hoa Tuc. This contemporary Vietnamese cuisine restaurant is located at Hai Ba Trung which houses several other restaurants. The good thing about this restaurant is they offer some great vegetarian choices also. They have a cooking class as well. Best in show: Hoa Tuc Starter Platter (fresh spring rolls, fried spring rolls, fish cakes, and Hoa Tuc Salad). The fish cakes are out of this world! Make your main dish the Seafood fried rice with grilled eggplant on the side. For desert order the sticky rice fritters stuffed with black sesame seeds, red bean paste and coconut cream.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The Ho Chi Minh Museum is strange – The displays made for the museum are very elaborate and very modern art inspired, which just confused me. I was hoping to learn more about the man who’s face is everywhere in Vietnam, but unfortunately a vast majority of the displays are in Vietnamese and not translated to English.