Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) is not the official capital of Vietnam (which is Hanoi by the way) but rather its economic capital and the largest city in the country. The old Saigon was renamed in 1975 after the national hero Ho Chi Minh.
Although there is plenty to see in Ho Chi Minh City, I recommend staying at least 2 or 3 days there to fully enjoy the rest of Vietnam.
First, let’s look at some accommodation options in Ho Chi Minh City.
Where to stay in?
I recommend Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 even though it is a tourist district. If you can book a hotel near Pham Ngũ Lão Street, it would be perfect. If you’re wondering why, it’s just because location-wise, everything will be close by, and by everything I mean restaurants, shops, bars and also places where you can rent or buy motorcycles, etc.
And of course you will find plenty of places where to eat a delicious Pho in District 1.
Speaking of Vietnamese cuisine, did you know that you could learn to cook Vietnamese food in a local home in Saigon? You can book a cooking class here: http://bit.ly/2tmZDVX
As far as hotels are concerned, I stayed at the New Sunny Hotel which is very cheap and offers the necessary comfort for a backpack traveler. If you can afford better accommodation, I recommend to stay at the Nguyens Cafe NHC. You are going to love it! It’s clean, safe, convenient and affordable. 🙂
You’re all set to go to Ho Chi Minh City! Let’s find out what you can do there.
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam (Saigon) – The War Remnant Museum
The history of Vietnam is fascinating, and one of the most important historical episodes of this country is of course the Vietnam War which took place from 1955 to 1975. Despite the victory of the Viet Cong and the defeat of the United States and their allies, this war was marked by traumatizing atrocities that the Vietnamese will never forget.
The use of the infamous Agent Orange by the United States army to destroy thousands of acres of land and tons of crops, was one of those atrocities. About 4 million people have suffered (and still suffer) the effects of Agent Orange.
Without going into too much detail, a visit to this museum is an essential step to understand Vietnam and the Vietnamese people today. Access costs 15,000 dong, which is around $0.65.
The museum might make you feel uncomfortable but I think that even if you are on holidays and have planned for more entertaining rather than depressing activities, the Vietnam War Remnant Museum remains a must-see attraction.
I think that as responsible human beings, it is important to remember our mistakes so that we never make them again.
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam (Saigon) – The Cu Chi Tunnels
Speaking of the Vietnam War, the Cu Chi Tunnels are the famous tunnels where the Viet Cong hid, sometimes for weeks, to avoid American attacks. The Vietnamese people are well aware that this strategy has largely contributed to their victory.
When visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels, exploring them will help you understand what the soldiers felt at the time. Avoid them if you are claustrophobic because they are really narrow.
The tunnels are located about 50 km from the city, so you have two transportation options to choose from. Book an online tour if you don’t want to bother planning the trip yourself. A guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels by speedboat on the Saigon River. Book your tour here.
If you decide to go on your own, here are the steps to follow to reach the Cu Chi tunnels via local buses.
How to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels by local bus :
- Take bus 13 from Ho Chi Minh (at the Nguyen Thi Nghia station which is next to a KFC) to the last Cu Chi bus station. The trip lasts about an hour and costs 7,000 dong ($0.30).
- Then take bus 79 from Cu Chi bus station to Ben Duoc. The trip lasts about 45 minutes and costs 6.000 dong ($0.25)
You’ll need to walk 5 minutes to get to the tunnels’ entrance. Access costs 75,000 dong, which is a little over $3. You can also walk in the forest and maybe meet a pretty little iguana…
…or visit very beautiful temples.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Tanh Market is located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City and you can find fruits and vegetables there, as well as clothes and fabrics of all colors. I recommend the fresh mango or dragon fruit juice. Very tasty!
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam (Saigon) – Emperor Jade Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu)
This is one of the most famous temples in Ho Chi Minh City. It is dedicated to both Taoism and Buddhism and I visited it during a prayer. Have a look:
The pagoda was built by the very large Chinese community of Ho Chi Minh City. This temple is also called Tortoise Pagoda because it has many turtles in a tank to the right of its entrance.
Town Hall And Nguyen Hue Walking Street
This beautiful city hotel was built by the French architect Paul Gardès. Construction lasted from 1902 to 1908. It overlooks the beautiful Nguyen Hue walking street which is gorgeously illuminated at night.
That’s it for this quick tour of Ho Chi Minh City! I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it will help you plan your stay in Vietnam. Feel free to suggest other attractions that you liked visiting in the comments below.
See you around,