Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City short guide

WHERE TO STAY
Try to stay somewhere central so that you’re winter walking distance to all of the city’s main attractions. We stayed at Ms. Yang Homestay, and couldn’t not recommend it more. Everyone is super friendly, breakfast is great and it’s within walking distance to everything. What more could you want?
(We found it on booking.com, if you book your accommodation through booking.com, here’s £15 off when you use this link!)

WHAT TO DO
We didn’t stay long in Ho Chi Minh City, but here are a few suggestions of things to do.

Independence Palace
Which to be honest we only saw from the outside and it’s not that impressive (but heard there are cool halls and secret rooms inside). There is a nice park behind it (Tao Dan Park) and some nice gardens in front of the main entrance that should lead you to the next stop:

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
The cathedral was established in the 19th century by French colonialists, who imported all the building materials and decorations from France. Its bright red bricks came from Marseille and still retain their vibrant colour to this day.

*note: the Cathedral is undergoing large-scale renovation,which is expected to last until the end 2019. Although the masses are still held weekly, guests are not allowed to visit for safety reasons.)

Saigon Post Office
Also built during the French colonial times, Saigon’s old post office is an impressive and beautifully preserved building. Beautiful arches, stunning marble floors, old wooden telephone booths, charming old clocks and two splendid ceiling paints of region maps, make for a very impressive sight. It’s an absolute must.
You can buy all sorts of stamps – old and new – postcards, and all sorts of souvenirs. It’s right next to the Cathedral, can’t miss it.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall and the promenade
The City Hall is also a beautiful building, worth passing by and walking the promenade that unfolds from there to the riverside. It’s a great walk and you can turn back from time to time for great pictures.

The walk to the river will take you 10min, and there you can find another very famous attraction:

Bitexco Tower and Sky Deck
The Bitexco Financial Tower is a very famous skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City. You can visit the Tower’s Skydeck on the 49th floor for extraordinary 360 degree views of the city.
It’s open from 9.30am to 9.30pm and it costs approximately £6/$9.

Bến Thành Market
A traditional market – a massive one at that – where you can buy anything from clothes, to shoes, to fruit, to food, and many many souvenirs. It’s big and messy, but there are food stalls inside (if you can brave that far) where you can grab some Vietnamese food or just chill with a drink. (I can’t possible chill in crowded places or markets, but hey, if it’s your thing go for it!).

War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants museum in Hoi Chi Minh serves as a reminder of the terrible war that Vietnam underwent for so many years. It’s very thorough and extremely graphic, I had to step away at times (so would strongly advise against taking children here). I’d still 100% recommend it though, the exhibition is very well organised and helps you understand a bit better what happened. There is an extraordinary photo collection, from the most prestigious photographers (some of whom even died in the war), that will give you goosebumps (not in a good way, but in a necessary way). Photography aficionados should defo check it out. (It is pretty brutal though).

*Tip: the ‘exhibition path’ is not clear or well indicated so here, let me help you out:

  • Start on the third floor with the room to your right.
  • Follow to the other room in the third floor
  • Second floor (here you’ll see the rooms are actually numbered)
  • Third floor, start with the exhibition right of the staircase

Cost: Approximately £1.30/$2
Opening hours: 7h30-12h 13h-17h


WHERE TO EAT

Bếp Mẹ ỉn
Cool little place close to Bến Thành Market. It has a cool environment, friendly staff and the Phos were good. Good for those of us who’d rather be seated more comfortably somewhere slightly quieter than next to the market stalls where everyone is bargaining.
Where? 136/9 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
Verdict: If you feel like it. Money: $. Food rate: Good. Price/Quality: Good

Number 35 Tôn Thất Tùng/ Quán Cơm Minh Đức/ Bistro 35
This place was the best find ever. Technically we didn’t find it, the girl at our homestay suggested it when we said we wanted a ‘real local’ place. And we got just what we asked for. The staff speaks little English, but you’ll manage to understand each other. Basically they take you to this glass display and you need to point at what you want. Then they bring it to the table. If you want more, you go and point at more stuff. It’s brilliant. Also the food is delicious! I recommend the chicken and the squid stuff (no idea what it was)
When we went it was really local, no tourists at all, so it’s natural if people stare a bit. They’re just curious, smile and be friendly and enjoy all the food.
Where? 35 Tôn Thất Tùng, Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Verdict: MUST GO if you want to have a true local experience. Money: $.
Food rate: Really good. Price/Quality: Really good

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