Ho Chi Minh City AKA Saigon, City in Southern Vietnam
Previous an colony of the French, this city is known for its history in the Vietnam War. It is also famed for its existing French colonial era buildings and architecture style.
From Airport to Downtown(District)
Best way and cheapest way to get into the city would be a normal ranked taxi from the official queue at the airport. It is strongly advised to join the queue as unlicensed taxi are prevalent. The rate to city will cost around 120,000 Dong or about 7 USD. There will be no extra charges for getting those slightly larger SUV kind of taxi. For private transport it may cost about double of it. IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE TAXI SIGN YOU SEE ONCE EXITING THE RESTRICTED AREA IS NOT A OFFICIAL TAXI COMPANY BUT A PRIVATE TRANSFER. It takes about 20 mins into town or even slightly lesser, depending on your driver drifting skills through the crazy traffic.
For the super budget travellers, there is a bus, No. 152 to town, dropping of near Ben Thanh Market area, costing 5000 Dong, about 30 cents USD! However I will strongly advise against it unless you are staying in that area. Taxi aren’t too much of a step up here.
When the French left in 1954, Ngo Dinh constructed the Independence Palace to demonstrate his country’s strength, but it was pulled down after an
attempt to assassinate him. The replacement building was later renamed Reunification Palace after the fall of Saigon in the 1970s. Much of the palace remains unchanged since the 70s, and although the shiny rosewood clad meeting rooms and musty library are interesting, perhaps the most fascinating relic resides in the garden. Tickets are awfully affordable and personally the most interesting part would be the bunker or an shady old command centre equivalent of the one in the White House
Notre Dame Cathedral
A French built cathedral built right in the centre of town, this place is probably the most gorgeous building in the whole city, the location is unique as it is always surrounded by the alarming chaotic traffic. The place is also a hotspot for wedding photo shoots. An example of French architecture, it is a must visit. Close for entry on weekends and during lunch.
Saigon Post Office
The well known always heard yellow building in town, beside being a tourists attractions, this place is still a functioning post office and the interior also consists of numerous shops and souvenirs. Perfect place for some instaworthy shots too! You can also see the style of building, still french colonial but slowly moving away to more indochina.
War Remnants Palace
The most important museum in Saigon. A chilling account from the victor of the horrors of the Vietnam War. Graphic and disturbing. The Requiem photo exhibit is not to be missed. The War Remnants Museum is unashamedly propagandist – and it will prompt some reflection on the propagandist function of museums in Vietnam and everywhere. The Requiem photo gallery, comprises images taken by photojournalists killed in action from both sides of the conflict. It is one of the most powerful anti war exhibits you’ll ever encounter. Requiem was put together by iconic Vietnam War photographers, Tim Page and Horst Faas.
Saigon Opera House
What’s French without Opera? Definitely must have some arts in it right? to make it feel French. The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon Opera House, is an opera house in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The iconic and gorgeous looking building just bring us back the times to the Colonial era. Cigars and Whisky, imagine that.
The greatest shopping mall in town, large, cold(definitely necessary in the hot weather). It is also full of restaurants and the local best, pho coffee and there is also a large supermarkets located on the highest level.
Lam Som Square
The chic and wealthy parts of the town with recognisable brands and shops, there is also numerous restaurants and well known hotels nearby.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh is recognizable from its clock tower on the large traffic circle. The largest old-style market in the central district, with several hundred small stalls stuffed with goods on almost impassably narrow aisles. Due to its popularity with tourists, the market is now divided between tourist goods (jeans, T-shirts, smaller souvenirs in abundance) and regular items (fruit and vegetables, rice, kitchen wares, flowers, meat, fast food and local-style pickled fruits and candies). Most items are not price-marked, and vendors always quote a 50-100% higher price to tourists, so bargaining hard will save you money.
Ngon Restaurant (Quan An Ngon)
160 Pasteur St, Dist 1, Ho Chi Minh City
One of Saigon’s most popular restaurants – with good reason. Well priced local food, a lovely airy colonial villa setting and a great concept. Ngon is packed every day with locals and foreigners sampling classic Vietnamese dishes from small stalls replicating the country’s impressive street fare. This is another great place (like Ben Thanh Market) for seeing and trying a range of Vietnamese culinary delights. Make sure you also sample some Vietnamese “che” dessert while you’re here. Ngon – which means “delicious” in Vietnamese, may not serve the finest of local cuisine, but it’s very dependable and the space and atmosphere are fantastic. Ngon’s open all day and has free wifi so pop in anytime.
If only fast food was as good everywhere. Pho 24 is a chain of “pho” restaurants found
throughout the country that started here in Saigon. You’ll find them everywhere but this one on Dong Khoi St is probably the most convenient for travellers. There is also one branch in the recommended mall that I mentioned earlier, Vincom Centre
74 Hai Ba Trung, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
One of the nicest spaces in town in an old French era opium refinery, The Refinery is tucked away in a small square that is becoming one of Saigon’s best food and entertainment quarters. French bistro style food is good and reasonably priced. The thoughtfully decorated space compensates for a lot. A great place for an evening glass of wine as well.
Au Parc Cafe
3 Hàn Thuyên, Bến Nghé, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Homemade, relaxing, gorgeous decorated, affordable and chill. Perfect place for a lazy meal and enjoying the bright day all in the comfort of a coffee and the aircon. Fair pricing and delicious, you can’t go wrong here. And, it’s only a stone throw away from the Independence Palace!