The most important economic and also the largest city of Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City. The real capital is a lot further north and that is Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south of Vietnam and was previously known as Saigon. Only after gaining independence, which also heralded the end of the Vietnam War, was the name changed to Ho Chi Minh City. It is a tribute to the North Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh. The city of Ho Chi Minh is a vibrant city. There are almost as many scooters as residents, or so it seems. There are hardly any rules in traffic and yet it almost always seems to end well. Crossing a road seems almost impossible and yet the traffic artfully anticipates around it. It is convenient for tourists to be transported by cyclo. These bicycle taxis easily guide you through the traffic and allow you to experience the city from very close by. The smells, colors and sounds are likely to stimulate every sense in your body. On every corner of the street people seem to be busy consuming and/or preparing food or they have a trade in other types of merchandise. The most delicious dishes are prepared on small stoves, which are in great demand among the local population. Each building is furnished as a shop in various goods. Vietnamese seem to use every opportunity to earn some extra money here. They do this without being very pushy. The Chinese district of Cho Lon has beautiful temples and divided in the center are very beautiful buildings such as the opera house, the city hall and Notre Dame. The modern side of the city consists of fascinating museums, green parks, skyscrapers, cozy restaurants, great nightlife, packed markets and hip shops. Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling city that still seems to be developing.
Top 10 sights of Ho Chi Minh City
#1. War Remnants Museum
In front of the entrance of the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City you will find a number of fighter planes and other military vehicles. They were all used during the horrific Vietnam War that lasted almost a hundred years. In the year 1975, this museum was founded under the name ‘The Gallery of American Crime. In the year 1995, this was renamed the War Remnants Museum. This war museum in Ho Chi Minh City has three floors filled with photos, films and various artifacts that paint a picture of Vietnam’s darkest period, during which the Vietnamese continued to fight mercilessly for their independence. Not all photos are equally suitable for young visitors. In particular, the footage in which you see the results and consequences of the horrific chemical attacks that were committed at the time can be called downright shocking. The chemical cocktail used is known as Agent Orange.
#2. Ben Thanh Market
According to extrareference, the covered market Ben Thanh is located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City between the streets Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, Le Thanh Ton and Quach Thi Trang square. Both locals and tourists love to visit this place. It is even seen as the symbol of the city. At the Ben Thanh Market you can shop to your heart’s content for clothes, souvenirs, bags, hats, shoes, flowers, fresh produce and kitchenware. Previously, the Ben Thanh market was on the river, but after it went up in flames, a more central location was looked for. The opening was celebrated extensively in 1914 with fireworks, floats and thousands of spectators.
#3. Cho Lon
The Chinese Quarter of Ho Chi Minh City is known as Cho Lon. It is located on the west bank of the river. Mainly Chinese people who have emigrated to Vietnam live in this part of the city. One of the most interesting sights of Cho Lon is the Quan Am Pagoda from 1816. The Chinese also affectionately call this Buddhist temple the Wen Temple Lang. For them it is one of the most important prayer rooms in the district. Many people come here to worship the gods and burn incense sticks. You can also donate money and thus ‘buy’ a place to make a wish or prosperity known for a longer period of time. Money is also regularly thrown into the ovens. This would benefit the deceased persons after their reincarnation. The many sacks of rice that you find there are intended to provide people with food in times of need. It is customary to cover the knees and shoulders before entering the temple.
#4. Ho Chi Minh City Museum
Near the Reunification Palace is the Ho Chi Minh City Museum ‘Bao Tang Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh’. The museum is located in a former residence of a French general, which was built at the end of the nineteenth century. The French architect Alfred Houlhoux was appointed for the design. The Ho Chi Minh City Museum presents a summary of three hundred years of Ho Chi Minh City history. By means of photos, documents, clothing and other objects, a plausible picture is drawn in which the history of the city is central. An important and not to be forgotten part is of course the Vietnam War.
#5. Reunification Palace
Around the 1960s, the Reunification Palace was built on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. The order for this came from the president Ngo Dinh Diem. It replaced a palace, which was previously used by French governors. This French palace was called the ‘Norodom Palace’. However, the current ‘Reunification Palace’ never became the home of President Ngo Dinh Diem, as he was assassinated during construction. The attack came from South Vietnamese General Duong Van Minh. In response, the palace was stormed by the North Vietnamese army and shortly afterwards the end of the Vietnam War was announced. This was followed by negotiations between North and South Vietnam and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established. Since then, the palace has been renamed Reunification Palace. The palace is now home to the president and his ministers. In the garden of the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh you will find a number of military vehicles.
#6. Cu Chi tunnels
For many, the tunnels used during the Vietnam War are the figurehead for that time. Many films about this tumultuous time in Vietnam have therefore been filmed here at the Cu Chi tunnels near the village of the same name. The complex network of corridors and rooms is therefore a top attraction during a visit to Vietnam. Together with a guide you get access to the tunnels and you can experience for yourself how exciting this must have been at the time. Many soldiers and warriors lived and slept here during blood-curdling battles that took place right above their heads. The temperature, limited oxygen and lack of daylight made for appalling conditions. And then we haven’t even mentioned the insects, parasites and other vermin that were also here. During your visit to the Cu Chi tunnels you will also get all kinds of information about the booby traps and other ways in which the communists outsmarted their attackers. Another part of the Cu Chi tunnels are the Ben Duoc tunnels. These are slightly more adapted for the tourists for comfort.
#7. Streetfood Market
The Streetfood Market phenomenon has also not passed Vietnam by. Now you can almost always eat on the street in Vietnam and other Asian countries. In terms of hygiene, this can be quite exciting. In Ho Chi Minh City, however, they now also have a more Western street food market, which is partly comparable to food markets such as you find in Antwerp, London, Madrid and Amsterdam. You can choose different meals at different stalls, which you can then enjoy together in a public space. There is a suitable menu for everyone. Ho Chi Minh’s Street Food Market is located on Thu Khoa Huan not far from the Reunification Palace and Ben Thanh Market.
The cathedral in the center of Ho Chi Minh ‘Nha Tho Duc Ba’ is also known as Notre Dame. The basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built around 1877 in Saigon. It was hoped that she would bring peace to Vietnam. The order for this Roman Catholic church came from Bishop Isidore Colombert, a Catholic French missionary. The red tiles that look like bricks come from Marseille. It was not until 1895 that the two towers with six bells each were added.
#9. The colonial main post office of Saigon
The ‘Buu die Trung tam Sai Gon’ is a post office built in colonial European style. The design comes from the now world famous engineer Gustave Eiffel. The first stone of this building was laid in 1886. It is certainly worth admiring the post office from the inside. The use of color as well as the decoration is very beautiful. And the two wall paintings with titles such as ‘Telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1936’ and ‘Saigon et ses environs 1892’ are particularly beautiful. Above the clock hangs the portrait of the communist leader Ho Chi Minh.
#10. Sky bars
A good time to take a break from the bustle and noise of the city is by visiting one of the sky bars in Ho Chi Minh City. For example, you can visit the sky bar of the Centec Tower. The ultra hip restaurant Shri also has an adjoining lounge terrace, from where you have an amazing view over the city of Ho Chi Minh. Or a view from the tallest building in the city, namely from the Heli Bar in Bitexco Financial Tower. Other nice sky bars are: the Chill Sky Bar in the Ab Tower, Glow Skybar, Breeze Sky Bar and the very affordable variant at The View Rooftop Bar.