Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, situated in the southern part of Vietnam, is still called Saigon by most of the natives. This modern city used to be considered as the Pearl of the Orient by the French.
The wide Saigon River, which takes a huge turn from the east of Saigon, links the city with the sea. Unlike Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, Saigon -Ho Chi Minh City may lack charm and elegance, but the city with its essential French colonial character has enough to draw your attention. The city\'s colonial villas, wide avenues and a lively cafe society remind you the days of French dominance.
Today Ho Chi Minh City has a cosmopolitan and energetic atmosphere, and having actively welcomed the new capitalist principle, the business-minded spirit of the people is much in evidence. Although relatively modern, it has still managed to hold onto its Asian character, and fine restaurants, smart hotels and chic bars line the sidewalks crammed with noodle stands, markets and shoeshine boys. The buzzing of motorbikes and scooters merges with the cries of street vendors and the urgent business of stall owners, selling barbecued dog and tropical fruits.
Places to visit
The once residence of the Governor Generals of Indochina, the Reunification Palace in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, has a spacious complex with 100 rooms and total area exceeding 2,000 square meter. Its finest decorations and the rich collection of contemporary Vietnamese art and craft, make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
Ben Thanh market
It is not merely a touristic shopping zone but a symbol of this animated city. The market’s name (“Ben” means port and “Thanh” means fort) is related to its original location on the bank of Ben Nghe River near the old fort Gia Dinh. Destroyed by war and fire, it was moved to the present spot at the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi and Tran Hung Dao Avenue in the downtown area of Ho Chi Minh City. Out of the four gates of the square building, the main one is easily recognizable by a yellow tower with three clocks. Once wandering into the market, visitors can’t help gaping at tempting stalls clothes, shoes, souvenirs, cosmetics, jewellery, utensils, household appliances as well as seafood, meat, vegetables, fruit, coffee powder, flowers and so on. Generally, the quality of these products is quite good but do prepare to bargain hard and be careful when converting the price to US dollar. Food section with the availability of various dishes from many regions of the country is another appeal of this huge, covered market.
Notre Dame Cathedral
The famous church, which was constructed during 1877 and 1833 by the French, serves as the nation's Catholic center. The history of the church says that the materials used in its construction were imported from France- Notre Dame with Virgin Maria. The Archbishop of the Ho Chi Minh City is posted here. Catholic followers of the city attend the services offered in the morning and in the afternoon. The New Year and Christmas celebrations of the Notre Dame Cathedral draw a huge crowd.
The weapons and information on the recent wars of Vietnam are kept in this museum. The museum displays the war crimes, which affected the Vietnamese. The models preserved in the museum can give you an idea of the most dreadful prisons and the most deadly weapons used by foreign forces in Vietnam. It also features a guillotine used during wartime.
Located inside the renowned botanical garden of the city, this museum has a rich collection of data and objects belonging to some ancient civilizations in the Mekong Delta namely Oc Eo (Funan). The Botanical garden remains open to the visitors daily. However in order to collect the essential study materials for research work, from the huge library of the museum, researchers need to have special permits from the museum authority. The live puppet show held in the museum complex is a major source enjoyment to the tourists visiting the Historical Museum