Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
You know the saying, "There are two sides to every story"? The same applies to Ho Chi Minh City (often just known as HCMC). On one side, the city holds onto its past with a tight grip. The grand Reunification Palace, which was the former South Vietnam president's home until the end of the Vietnam/American War, acting as a prime example. The War Remnants Museum and Chi Chi Tunnels also shed an honest light on the war that plagued the country from 1955 to 1975. And the former name of the city, Saigon, still in use today.
Delving back even further, the Gothic-style Central Post Office and the French-built Notre Dame Cathedral (both designed by one Gustave Eiffel - yes of Eiffel Tower fame!) act as a great reminder of the city's colonial past and offer a quintessential photography opportunity for every tourist. A history that dates back from 1884 until Vietnam's independence in 1945 at the end of World War II, the French influence can be seen in its cuisine (baguettes and coffee) and in its architecture.
HCMC's other side is one of modern energy, buzzing city streets, bustling marketplaces and sizzling kitchens. While such vigour and excitement is easily found on the streets, District 1 is where it all culminates in a burst of colour, smells and chatter. If you prefer to observe daily life from afar then the city's food stalls offer the perfect setting to do so. Simply take a seat, order a steaming bowl of pho and watch the world and Ho Chi Minh City's two sides go by.
Here are our must-dos for Vietnam's largest city.
One of Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular attractions is the Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Independence Palace and the home and workplace of the South Vietnam President during the Vietnam/American War.
Sobering and not for the squeamish, the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most visited museums in Vietnam and contains ex-miltary vechicles as well as confronting photos and exhibits.
While they’re not for the claustrophobic, Cu Chi Tunnels made for ideal hiding spots during the Vietnam War combat. The tunnel system was used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters as a hospital, supply route, living quarters and to hold food and weapon caches.
For a taste of modern Ho Chi Minh City, District 1 is the bustling hub of Vietnam's largest city. The urban district is divided into 10 small subsets and is the primary administrative centre of the city. More than just business though, District 1 is where you'll find much of the city's shopping, dining and nightlife areas.
One of several Buddhist temples in HCMC, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is considered to be one of the city's most beautiful and interesting with plenty of scarily grotesque statues and mythical characters flanking the Cantonese-style temple.