1. Ho Chi Minh City Museums & Attractions:
106 Nguyen Du, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hours: 7:30-11:00 am, 1:00-4:00 pm
Admission: 15,000 dong (≈$.90)
This was formerly the Presidential Palace of the Republic of South Vietnam, the site where South Vietnam finally capitulated to the North on April 30, 1975. Having underwent extensive renovations and only re-opened this June, the palace is preserved almost exactly how it was in 1975; visitors can tour the President’s office, cabinet room, bomb shelters, war rooms, secret tunnels and more.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hours: 8:00 am-4:00 pm. Admission: 15,000 dong (≈$.90)
Located in a late, nineteenth century estate of French design, the Ho Chi Minh City museum houses two floors of history, from pre-historic Vietnam to the Vietnam War (or the Resistance War Against the Americans to Save the Nation, as they refer to it). Prominently, the museum hosts a collection of captured American aircraft and tanks.
The museum, formerly known as the “Exhibition House of American War Crimes,” is a disturbing look at the atrocities committed during the Vietnam War. Be prepared for a heavy dose of propaganda and revisionism. The museum features American tanks, aircraft and weaponry, as well as very graphic, disturbing pictures of war casualties, jars of still-born foetuses allegedly killed by Agent Orange and pictures of the lives of victims. Do not go if you are easily disturbed.28 Vo Van Tan Street, Hours: 7:30-11:45am, 1:30-4:45pm
Admission: 10,000 dong (≈$.65)
Notre Dame Cathedral
Built between 1877 and 1883 this is one of the best examples of classical French colonial architecture. Remarkably every stone used in its creation was shipped from France to Vietnam . Her two 40m towers, topped with iron spires dominate the city’s skyline.
This is HCMC’s oldest pagoda, dating back to 1744 and one of the finest in Vietnam . Inside, 98 pillars and 113 statues and myriad mini-Buddhas vie for your attention. Don’t miss the amazing Tree of Wandering Souls where people pray for their sick relatives by writing the names of their loved ones on slips of paper and then attaching them to the tree.
Cholon, including the Thien Hau Pagoda: Cholon actually means Big Market – a claim that is well justified as Vietnam ‘s largest market, the Binh Tay, is located here. The district is home to the city’s 400,000 Chinese and has many beautiful temples and pagodas.
2. Ho Chi Minh City Weather & When to Go:
It rains a lot in Vietnam. A LOT. The wet season lasts from May to October in the south, and the best times for traveling to Ho Chi Minh City are late November through January. Consider that “dry season” is a relative term in Indochina. Temperatures range from hot in the winter to hotter in the summer, and the humidity nears 100 about every day. Expect tropical storms often in the summer. That said, the Vietnamese take little notice of bad weather. Nothing stops for rain (though you might want to sometimes–road conditions are still pretty poor in some places and travel by bus or motorbike can be extremely dangerous in wet conditions). Air conditioning is standard throughout the city so you needn’t worry too much about the heat. The biggest national festival in Vietnam occurs in late January or early February and is called Tet. This is an excellent time to vist the country, as the streets erupt with color and… well… festivities. Tet lasts about a week (or, for some Vietnamese party animals, up to a month) and is scheduled around the lunar calendar, so you’ll have to check for this year’s dates. This Saigon Ho Chi Minh City Weather Page has annual averages for temperature, rainfall and humidity – as well as the up-to-the-moment weather at Saigon’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City
Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia. Located next door to Notre Dame Cathedral, the two cultural sites can be visited together and offers visitors a chance to imagine life in Vietnam during the times of the Indochinese Empire. The building was designed by Gustave Eiffel – the renowned engineer who also designed the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower – and features arched windows and wooden shutters, just as it would have in its heyday in the late 19th Century.
Ho Chi Minh Opera House
The Opera House in Ho Chi Minh is an elegant, colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in District 1, very close to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the classic Central Post Office. The restored three-storey 800-seat Opera House was built in 1897 and is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays. Performances are advertised around the building and information can be found in the state-operated tourist information centre Saigontravel close by.
Ben Thanh Market
HCM City Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese
Water Puppet Shows in Ho Chi Minh Traditional Vietnamese Water Puppet Shows remain one of the cultural draws for most travellers to Ho Chi Minh City. Originating in the sodden rice paddies of the Red River Delta in North Vietnam, the two most popular places to see a water puppet show in Ho Chi Minh are at The Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre and at the Villa Song Saigon (formerly Thao Dien Village).
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is Located to the north of town on the road to the airport, this pagoda is distinct because of its constant activities at the attached school, as well as for the daily workings of the many monks and nuns housed here
Ho Chi Minh City People Committee he building was built and put into use in 1909 as a hotel whose original name was Hôtel de Ville. It was designed by Gardes, a famous French architecture. This building is thus one of the oldest, biggest and most beautiful French style buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, functioning both as a city institution and as the city’s most prominent landmark today.
Pham Ngu Lao Street in Ho Chi Minh
The Pham Ngu Lao area of District 1 is where most backpacking travelers first land in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a similar scene to Southeast Asia’s most famous backpacking centre, Khao San Road in Bangkok, but on a smaller scale. The main thoroughfares (with lots of lanes and back alleys) that make up the popular area include Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham, Bui Vien and Do Quang Dao streets.
Dong Khoi Street Highlights Dong Khoi Street is at the heart of the city’s commercial life. It is still the best place to admire the grand old colonial buildings although they too are being overshadowed by the nearby high-rise office towers. International brands, boutiques, stylish cafes and high-end restaurants now line this bustling street.
3. Ho Chi Minh City History:
Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City has gone by several names over the centuries, most recently in 1975. Ho Chi Minh City was originally founded as Prey Nokor, a small fishing village and main port of Cambodia under the Khmer, in the 16th century. The name Prey Nokor means “forest city” or “forest land” and reffered to the swampy forests upon which it was founded. In the 17th century, Vietnamese settlers flocked to Prey Nokor and by 1698, Nguyen Huu Canh, a Vietnamese noble was sent to expand Prey Nokor into a Vietnamese settlement. By that time, Prey Nokor had became known as Gia Dinh officially, but Sai Gon more popularly (Sai Gon coming from obscure etymology but most assuredly reffering to the foresty area of the city). In 1859, the French conquered Saigon and encorporated it as the capital into the newly-formed French colony of Cochinchina, which later became French Indochina and subsequently South Vietnam. There, the French labeled Prey Nokor Saigon. The French architectural style is visible in many of the remaining nineteenth century buildings, for example the Museum of Fine Arts and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. During the Vietnam-American War, Saigon was the capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) until its unification with the North Vietnamese in 1975 which united the two halves. It was subsequently renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the pseudonym of the Vietnamese guerilla leader-Ho Chi Minh (real name Nguyen Tat Thanh). Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, larger than even the capital Hanoi, with more than 8 million people, and hosts the largest number of businesses in Vietnam – over 300,000. It is climbing, slowly but surely, into the new millennium.
4. HCM City – Ben Thanh Market:
Go for food!!! This is one of the most interesting places in Ho Chi Minh City, Shopping is good, bargain, bargain is a must, but one of the major interesting thing is “Go for real Vietnamese food”. Inside the market food section, there are many vendors and food stalls. Most of them are freshly made to order.
In the evening, You must visit Cho Ben Thanh for dinner. Sidewalk restaurants serve real Vietnamese food with white table cloths, the foods are good value and delicious. You can order all kind of original vietnamese food here, deep fried whole fish is one of the best selections in their menu Make sure that you do not sit too deep in to the tent, try to sit outside, it will be cooler and will make your meal more enjoyable.
When you are in Ho Chi Minh City, try to stay near by Cho Ben Thanh, this is a central tourist attractions, walk to the presidentail palace, cathedral, etc. Visit Cho Ben Thanh for dinner at least one time to gain the memorable experience.