Hello Saigon !
We have arrived in the exciting city of Ho Chi Minh City, one of the largest city in South Vietnam. It is not only a big city but a city of history. Vietnam has a heavy past with the war between the north and south of Vietnam that lasted 20 years!
South Vietnam was a capitalist and anti-communist state which fought against the communist North Vietnam and Viet Cong from 1955 to 1975, with the help of the United States and other countries. On 30 April 1975, Saigon fell and the war ended with a communist victory. After that, Saigon has been renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of Mr Ho Chi Minh who was a vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader and prime minister and president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He had an important impact in the foundation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The city has its memorial war museum (War Remnants Museum) and we could know a little bit more about what happened during the Vietnam war specially with the implication of the United States.
Now Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon, still commonly used too) is a very cosmopolitan city with 9 millions inhabitants. It has kept a very traditional vietnamese architecture including elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings. The city is divided into districts. The majority of the tourist spots are located around the District 1,2,3 or not too far around. Here are the major attractions we saw:
– The Reunification Palace: It was the place of the end of Vietnam War during the fall of Saigon in April 1975, when a north vietnamese army tank crashed through its gate. It is a great symbol to see while you are there.
– The City Hall: Although city hall is not open to the public, it still is worth going there to have a look at the stunning colonial architecture with French influence.
– War Remnants Museum: It primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War.
– China Town: It is the most buzzing place we have ever seen. To be honest it is not the best place to visit. For us it was very dirty, smelly with a lack of interest.
– Pagodas all around the city: take a walk by the river. It will give you a nice view on the city and will make you discover some very nice pagodas.
– Tours: excursions to the Mekong Delta, the Cu Chi tunnel (secret tunnel used during the war) and more are available from HCMC. We have not done any but many agencies with competitive prices are based in the city center.
After having walked around the city for some days, we actually really loved HCMC for its architecture but also for its numerous cute bars and cafés all around the city. We have loved to spend time in the Sozo bar or have a French lunch at l’ Usine, discovered by coincidence. We met also Lydie’s friend for a drink in the Bitexco tour – Sky bar for a 360 view of the city ! Impressive, but a little expensive. HCMC has also a lot of bakeries where we could have real pains au chocolat at “tous les jours” bakery or other sweet things. (Btw it is a corean bakery ) The city gives you tons of choices for massage salons with a wide range of service such waxing, pedicure, manicure for few dollars. You can for sure enjoy a relaxing massage at the end of exhausting day of sightseeing.
I (Lydie) went to see an acupuncture practitioner as I had some stomach problem and my natural medicine didn’t help me to feel better. I had been told by locals people to go in the Institute of Traditional Medicine (Vien Y Duoc hoc Dan toc). I went there 3 times and I cannot thank enough the doctor I met there. I was not familiar with acupuncture before but I can say that it really works. Our body is basically connected through meridians. Stimulating specific acupuncture points corrects imbalances in the flow of “qi” through channels as meridians. I am now feeling better and would be happy to give you further information on this Institute if you are in Saigon!
While in Saigon for 4 days, we took time to visit, relax but also to plan our next destinations including Cambodia. It is surprisingly a little tiring to be on the road constantly and to plan the logistic for the next steps. We don’t complaint at all but we really enjoyed these 4 days to recharge our battery and to be fully motivated to discover our next destination :Phu Quoc Island and Cambodia.
See you soon ! 🙂
Accommodation: The New Saigon Hostel is a great place to stay. Centrally located, the room are clean and have TV, AC, fridge. The staff is very friendly and helpful. 22$/night, double room .
– If you want to see the view of Saigon by day or night, go have a drink in the Skydeck – 52 floor of Bitexco Fiancial Tower. Don’t go on the panoramic terrace as they charge fees to get in.
– a transfer from/to the airport cost around 10$. 30mns drive.
– the Pho Chay in Saigon is delicious! (Veggies soup)
– The Sozo bar, near by the backpacker street, has excellent bubble teas! 🙂