Once dearly called Diamond of the Far East with the luxury level, Ho Chi Minh is now the largest, most populated and most exciting city in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is also seen the nation’s economic heart. Modern office skyscrapers, admist Chinese style pagodas and food stalls along the street, create a dynamic urban area in very special sense. It is not oddly tidy like in Singapore, nor is urban slumps omnipresent like in India.
Ho Chi Minh City’s architecture and lifestyle is the reconciliation between American and Chinese influence, with many dots of modernity yet without losing Vietnamese traits and as much historical as it is modern. In addition, Ho Chi Minh had already been christened the “Paris of Asia” for its wide boulevards lined with stately trees and magnificent French villas. People may be fooled by smell of coffee, baking bread, other traditional culinary specialties. Ho Chi Minh City is also a paradise for shoppers for beautiful handicrafts.
Top 10 Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
1 War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh
The War Remnants Museum once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’ first opened to the public in 1975. It’s a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War with many graphic photographs and American military equipment on display, including a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft and a 6,800kg conventional bomb.
2 Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels are part of a massive war museum that offers a sneak-peek at the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. Located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the historical site comprises more than 120km of underground tunnels with several trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres
3 Cao Dai Temple near Ho Chi Minh
Worshippers at the Cao Dai Temple strive for world peace and harmony with beliefs steeped in a number of world religions. Followers must obey the five virtues of Confucianism – humanity, obligation, civility, knowledge and reliability and have belief in the Buddhist principles of rebirth and karma.
4 Jade Emperor Pagoda
Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practiced widely in Vietnam.
5 Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck
Ho Chi Minh City’s Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck stands 262 metres high at the centre of the city’s business district and offers visitors an unparalleled city view from its Sky Deck.
6 Mariamman Hindu Temple
It is the only Hindu temple that is still open in the city and is considered sacred by Hindu and non-Hindu Vietnamese. The temple is rumoured to have miraculous powers giving luck and wealth to those who worship within its walls.
7 Reunification Palace
The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975 with two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds. Originally the site of the Nordom Palace also known as the Governor’s Palace its first role was as a home and workplace for the then French Governor of Cochinchina.
8 Binh Tay Market (Cholon Chinatown Market)
Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.
9 Central Post Office
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia.
10 Notre Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam.