Located to the south of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is a center of entertainment, education, cuisine, commerce and also one of the biggest cities in Vietnam. With a number of tourist attractions, Ho Chi Minh City usually is the top attraction which could draw the attention of the tourists.
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.
Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, Independence Palace also known as Reunification built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Hochiminh City, Vietnam. The Palace is one of the most fascinating things to see in Saigon. It was designed by architect o Viet Thuu and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. With regard to history, this building witnessed every historic event happening to the Saigon government until the regime finally collapsed in April 30, 1975.
Under the Saigon regime, the Independence Palace always symbolized the power of the government of South Vietnam. In the end, on the morning of April 30, 1975, a tank of the Liberation forces crashed into the iron gate of the palace terminating the existence of a regime. In addition to historic value, the Reunification Palace is also famed for its architectural characteristics which are unique in Vietnam.
Located in the heart of downtown Saigon, the Reunification Palace was built on a block of 12 hectares, bordering four streets: Nam Ky Khoi Nghia in the front (the main entrance is open to Le Duan Boulevard), Huyen Tran Cong Chua in the back, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai on the right and Nguyen Du on the left. Surrounded by immense lawns and high trees in its gardens, the main building of the palace is modern architecture, typical of the 60's. Before 1975, access to the palace and some surrounding areas was prohibited to the public. Now the site has become a famous tourist attraction in HCM City. The palace hosts about 700-1,000 tourists per day on average.
War Remnants Museum
In order to save the heroic remnants of the Vietnamese people in the struggle against the invading forces, and to denounce the crimes and highlighted the devastating consequences of the war of aggression, the War Remnants Museum was established.
Currently the War Remnants Museum is a unit under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hochiminh City. Located in the museum system of Vietnam, the War museum aims to preserve and display the material, photographs, artifacts on the evidence of the crime and the consequences of the war that the invasion force has caused to Vietnam.
Moreover, the Museum also educates the public, especially the younger generations, in mental struggle for independence and freedom of the country, the anti-war sense of invasion in order to protect peace and solidarity friendship between the peoples of the world. Museum store more than 20,000 documents, exhibits and films, in which more than 1,500 documents, artifacts, films have been applied to introduce in eight exhibitions frequently.
In 35 years, the Museum has welcomed over 15 million visitors at home and abroad. Currently, with about 500,000 visitors each year, the War Remnants Museum is one of the only cultural tourism to attract high public credibility at home and abroad.
Situated right in the heart of Hochiminh City, Notre Dame Cathedral is the most famous landmark as well as main cathedral of the city. It is a famous age-long cathedral in Southern Vietnam, attracting not only Catholics but also most tourists for its Romanesque style architecture and a sacred atmosphere. Established by French colonists, it has two bell towers, reaching a height of over 58 meters.
Apart from the religious meaning that attracts tourists, the even more special captivating point of Notre Dame Cathedral is its special style of architecture. The cathedral foundation was designed to bear 10 times the weight of the cathedral. In front of the cathedral is a statue of the Virgin Mary. On a whole, the architecture and two 58m-high square towers tipped with iron spires dominate the city’s sky line, creating a beautiful religious site.
Set amidst the active and continuously moving Saigon, the Notre Dame Cathedral is considered a stop for seekers of old beauties and calmness as well as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hochiminh City. For those who wish to ease their mind from stresses of daily life and immerse in tranquil atmosphere of religious buildings, touring this diversified city under religious theme will give you the perfect chance to explore the religions, the architecture and the cultural meanings lying behind well-known religious places in Hochiminh City such as Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Municipal Theater
This Municipal Theater is one of the landmarks left by the French in Saigon. This magnificent building was built at the turn of the 20th century as a classical opera house to entertain French colonists. The theater has been undergone extensive renovations in recent years. The three-story interior houses some 1,800 seats.
Today the Municipal Theater does very little in terms of performances, but it is a stalwart atmospheric holdout amid the rising steel and glass downtown. It features a pair of white statues of girls at the gate, chandeliers, bronze statues that are placed at the stairs, a stone veranda, an audience hall that has the capacity to hold 1800 people at a particular time and rows of statues on the two sides of the theater.
These features reflect the French style. To watch a classical concert or a jazz concert, operas, traditional Vietnamese dances and ballets, you need to head to this place and it opens from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm. The front space of the theater is utilized by the local youths as they use this space to make arrangements for various kinds of exciting activities.
Giac Lam Pagoda
Giac Lam Pagoda, built in 1744, is the oldest Buddhist temple in Hochiminh City and as such was listed as an important historical site by the Vietnamese Department of Culture. Situated in Tan Binh District, the pagoda is surrounded by spacious, walled garden and fronted by statues of dragons, the protective guardians to many temples here.
Inside, this richly decorated shrine is comprised of three areas: the ceremonial hall, the chanting hall and the refectory. This large and sprawling establishment houses beautifully rendered images of Buddha in various incarnations, along with numerous Taoist deities, each with own altar. All the wooden pillars are decorated with red-and-gold Chinese characters. The ceremonial hall is dominated by the large statue of Amitabha Buddha, who is surrounded by five smaller Buddha images.
Also in the main hall is the nine dragon altar depicting the birth of Prince Sidharta, the future Buddha Gotama. Outside, a new addition, the 32-meter tall stupa dominates the temple grounds. This seven-story high, hexagonal structure contains a Buddha relic housed on the top floor. Visitors can climb up to the top floor for panoramic views of the city. In front of the stupa stands the white statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy on an open lotus flower – a symbol of purity.
Saigon Central Post Office
Saigon Central Post Office is a post office in the downtown Hochiminh City, near Notre Dame Cathedral, the city's main cathedral. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the early 20th century.
It has an ancient architectural style and was designed and constructed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel in harmony with the surrounding area. Today, the building is a tourist attraction.
Inside the Saigon Central Post Office of special note are two painted maps that were created just after the post office was first built, the first one located on the left side of the building is a map of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia titled “Lignes telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1892” which translates to “Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892”. The second map of greater Saigon was titled “Saigon et ses environs 1892” translating to “Sai Gon and its environment 1892”.
Ben Thanh Market
Even though you have spent years shopping at several malls and commercial centers that shopping has become a boring and ordinary task to you, exploring an Asian market is always an exhilarating experience. Ben Thanh Market is a well-known market that you should visit when coming to Hochiminh City.
Being a bustling market in the daytime and a social center after sunset, Ben Thanh Market is absolutely a must-see attraction of the most dynamic city of Vietnam. In the morning, you can find almost everything from dry food to clothes for a reasonable price. However, always remember that bargain is a must in any Vietnamese market. There a number of vendors and food stalls in the market food section that offers guests dishes freshly made to the order so that visitors can taste various kinds of local dishes.
Things from clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry to kitchen ware, grocery, sweets, and great Vietnamese coffee, or you can say everything that Saigon people need for their daily life can be found here. Besides goods for daily use, tourists can find a variety of eye-catching local handicrafts, souvenirs here. Just picking up some cute things, visitors have got small gifts for friends and family at home or something to remind them about the trip to Ho Chi Minh City.
Hochiminh City People’s Committee
Officially known as the Hochiminh City People's Committee Building, the Saigon Town Hall was first known as the Hotel de Ville when it was completed in 1908. The building stands at one end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard on The Le Thanh Ton Street, a brisk walk away from Dong Khoi Street. Its French builders drew inspiration from town halls in Europe. Modeled on the original Hotel de Ville in Paris and built between 1902 and 1908, the People's Committee Hall is the former City Hall or Hotel de Ville of Saigon.
The building was known as the City Hall of Saigon before 1975. Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, this impressive colonial building has served as the Headquarters for the Hochiminh City People's Committee, and a statue of Uncle Ho sits triumphantly in the garden surrounding the hall. Often referred to as "Gingerbread House" due to the yellowish tinge and ornate features of the exterior, the hall is at its most striking after dark, when the entire building is floodlit.
It's just as well the outside is so impressive, as members of the public won't get any closer than that; only state officials are allowed in this working government building. The Town Hall is closed to the public, as it is an official Vietnamese government building. Its beautiful French Colonial architecture and sunny cream-and-yellow hue, along with its iconic statue of Ho Chi Minh, make it a tourist favorite and a symbol of Saigon.
Vietnam History Museum
Housed in a rambling concrete pagoda-like structure, the museum presents a clear picture of Vietnamese history, with a focus on the south. Although some of the artifacts are being held together by Scotch tape, there's an excellent selection of Cham sculpture and the best collection of ancient ceramics in Vietnam.
Weaponry from the 14th century onward is on display; one yard is nothing but cannons. There are even some general background explanations in English, something missing from most Vietnamese museums. A small three-row theater inside the museum shows regular water puppet performances. It's an intimate venue, and the performance is more clever and witty than the for-the-tourists water puppet show in Hanoi.
Here, you can see the crumpled remains of an American reconnaissance plane shot down, as well as more utilitarian vehicles, troop carriers, and the construction equipment from the U.S. defoliation campaign. The museum has little in the way of English explanations and it's more or less a place for Vietnamese school field trips, but Vietnam War enthusiasts can find some weaponry and tools not displayed in other museums in town.
Nha Rong Wharf
Nha Rong Wharf or Ho Chi Minh Museum is a tourist site attracting tourists, who can expect to learn about the rich culture and history of Vietnam. Nha Rong Wharf was the first largest trading harbor of Saigon in 1862. The main purpose of building this wharf is meeting the demand of transportation among the colonized Vietnam and the world. Ho Chi Minh, the greatest leader of Vietnam in history, set sail on a French ship named Admiral La Touche Treville at this place in 1911 and departed Vietnam for his 30-year journey around the world.
In September 1979, it is reformed into Ho Chi Minh Museum branch in a city, but it did not change the name. In terms of its architecture, the wharf was designed which combining the French style and Vietnamese style. It is quite similar to other French architectures in Vietnam. The main building was constructed following the French characteristic, but there are 2 Vietnamese dragon-shaped statues on the top of roof.
You can easily find out the similarity detail in the architecture of Vietnamese traditional temples or pagodas. It is said that the name of the wharf comes from this decoration. It is home to a rich collection of 3,000 pictures and 700 artifacts, personal belongings and journals as well as many scripts and publications relating to President Ho Chi Minh.
Nguyen Hue pedestrian street
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport opened Nguyen Hue as a walking street on April 29, attracting around 3,000 pedestrians.
The project on upgrading and turning Nguyen Hue into a pedestrian street was started in September 2014 with a total investment of VND 470 billion (US$21.7 million).
The walking street, 670 metres long and 64 metres wide, features two musical water fountains with laser light beams, free wifi service and an information centre for tourists.
As many as 160 wooden chairs will be placed along the two sides of the street and 20 electric cars will be put into operation in the area.
In the coming time, Nguyen Hue street is scheduled to join its neighbouring streets: Le Loi, Ham Nghi and Dong Khoi to form a pedestrian area in Ho Chi Minh City.
Eating in Hochiminh City
When the visitors come to Ho Chi Minh City, they should not miss any local dish. It offers an amazing array of food for visitors and you will discover that there is a lot more to Vietnamese food than just Pho (noodle) and Banh Mi (bread), and discover the complexity of flavor that can come from the use of fresh, simple ingredients. Everywhere you look, no matter what the time of day, there are people eating and preparing food. Food is prepared or eaten constantly in Vietnam.
Throughout Ho Chi Minh City you’ll see men and women pushing around portable street carts. Sometimes, they’ll be selling one kind of fruit, or something else simple and other times they will be pushing around what is essentially a small cooking station with a few shelves. Many of the drinks and dishes that I’ve described above can be found on these roaming street carts.
The same thing goes for fresh fruit vendors, who can also be found throughout Ho Chi Minh City. Just like everywhere else in the world, food and dinner is what brings the family together. Many families got together for dinner on this busy street corner every night.
Finally, we get to the one dish that most foreigners associate with Vietnam, a noodle dish that is deserving of its own heading. Pho is a noodle soup consisting of broth, flat rice noodles, herbs and meat, usually beef or chicken. The quality and style of pho varies quite a bit between vendors. Pho is served with a variety of condiments and side, exactly what you’ll get depends on the vendor.
There is a fairly typical selection of limes, chili, mint and basil, as well as a variety of sauces to the side. Especially, there is a sweet chilli sauce. Unlike the watered down sweet chili sauce that’s typical in Western countries, this sauce sweet, but also properly chili. It’s also a lot less thick in its consistency.
A rather sweet soup with thick, udon-like noodles filled with large mushrooms and some sort of meat is what’s contained in the bowl. To top it off is a semi-soft egg type. It’s a very hearty and tasty dish. Everywhere you go in Ho Chi Minh City, someone is doing their own take on a dish. The differences are subtle, but they are there and over time you start to get a real appreciation of the variety and complexity of Vietnamese food.
At these stores, soy sauce, fish sauce, and chili were on the table, awaiting a meal that they could be added to. There are some noodles make from quite strange things. One of them is made from herbs, meat, mushrooms and sausage were combined in the soup and it was topped off with a fried wonton. In this kind of store, the ingredients are cooked right out the front on these small cooking stations.
This is the traditional dishes which could be used in terms of the rolls. It is just like a spring roll of the western people, but this food is not stirred. The delicious thing is that the shrimp and vegetable are so tender. Spring Rolls are another dish that many people outside of Vietnam associate with the country.
They are very common throughout Ho Chi Minh City. The rolls are prepared fresh out the front, with a seafood and pork option. Dipping sauces include a peanut sauce containing hoisin sauce and a mixed fish sauce.
Banh Mi is one of the foods that people commonly associate with Vietnam and is a delicious snack that shows how fusion food, when done right, can be brilliant. “Banh Mi” is actually the Vietnamese word for all kinds of bread, which was introduced to the country by the French. The food that most people in the West refer to as Banh Mi is actually Banh Mi, followed by other words denoting the type of sandwich.
The meat is usually some kind of steamed or roasted pork belly, grilled chicken, Vietnamese sausage, or other pork related meat. Usual condiments include pate, sliced cucumber, coriander, pickled carrots and shredded daikon. Common condiments include chili sauce, sliced chilies, mayonnaise and cheese. Stalls selling bread can be found throughout Hochiminh City. Have a look at the ingredients and if it looks good, go for it. Pointing is generally the way to choose your fillings. I like to get mine with “the lot”. For the freshest bread, eat banh mi in the morning or early evening.