Unlike Hanoi, a city that brings to you a calm and peaceful feeling, Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon, is more of a modern city that can be compared to Seoul, Singapore or Hong Kong. First of all, the lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City is very different from Hanoi’s. What’s more, buildings are taller, people live busier lives and streets are noisier. Even the city itself is much bigger. So, if you want to experience something modern but still Vietnamese, but are unsure where to go and what to do, join us on a trip to Ho Chi Minh City as we show you around!
1. Binh Tay Market
| Location: 57A Tháp Mười, District 6
Bình 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. Also known as Cholon Chinatown Market, Binh Tay Market occupies a two-story building along Thap Moui Street. Travelers can even find an assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, and textiles that are sold in bulk, though goods are not varied compared to other (more touristy) markets in downtown Hanoi. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspects of Cholon, Binh Tay Market is great for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.
A popular breakfast spot among locals, there are plenty of food stalls selling Vietnamese staples in the market including all-time favorite pho noodles, goi cuon (spring rolls), and com tam (broken rice) as well as Chinese-influenced delicacies such as banh bao, which are steamed buns filled with pork or chicken, onions, eggs, mushrooms, and vegetables. Binh Tay Market is accessible within a 15-minute xe ôm (motorcycle taxi) ride from downtown Ho Chi Minh City. The best time to visit is in the morning as that’s when the locals eat breakfast and shop for fresh produce and household supplies.
2.War Remnants Museum
| Location: 23 Võ Văn Tần street, District 3
The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City first opened to the public in 1975. Once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’, it serves as a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War. Graphic photographs and American military equipment are on display and there is a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft. You can also see a conventional bomb that weighs a whopping 6,800kg which American troops had used against the Vietnamese between 1945 and 1975.
The most talked-about exhibit at the War Remnants Museum is the ‘tiger cages’. The South Vietnamese government kept their political prisoners cramped up in these confinements. Locals believe these tiny cages imprisoned up to 14 people at a time! The museum also has a guillotine brought in by the French government. which both the French and South Vietnamese used to execute their prisoners until 1960. Also featured are grisly photos of victims that were victims of ‘Agent Orange’ in which as many as 4.8 million people were exposed to strong pesticide and chemical spray. The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes 500,000 children were born with birth defects due to this.
Learn about the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum:
3. Reunification Palace
| Location: 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Thành, District 1
The Reunification Palace was the base of Vietnamese General Ngo Dinh Diem until his death in 1963 and made its name into global history in 1975. A tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate, ending the Vietnam War. Today, it’s a must-visit for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975 where you can see two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds. The Reunification Palace was the home and workplace of the French Governor of Cochin-China thus, has secret rooms, antique furniture, and a command bunker. It’s still used to host important events in Ho Chi Minh, including APEC summits.
The Reunification Palace has five levels. The basement features tunnels, a war room and a telecommunications centre where many original pieces of equipment and documents are on display. On the third floor, there’s a card-playing room while the fourth houses a casino. What’s more, the rooftop terrace of the Reunification Palace is even fitted with a heliport!
Go back to where it all started at the Reunification Palace:
4. Củ Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a part of a massive war museum in Ho Chi Minh City. They offer visitors a sneak-peek into the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. The site has over 120km of underground tunnels with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres. After the war against the French, Vietnamese soldiers expanded the tunnels and included effective air filtration systems, which helped them survive the Cu Chi carpet-bombings.
You can enjoy plenty of activities during your visit. A popular option is following the narrow routes of the underground tunnel. Before entering the underground tunnels, visitors watch a short film of the Cu Chi Tunnels so that they understand how the tunnel system works. Parts of the Cu Chi Tunnels are also cemented and widened so that the crawl is less harrowing than it would have been in the past.
There are emergency exit points every 10 metres for safety but do note that the 100-metre crawl through the underground tunnels may be unsuitable if you have breathing difficulties! The Cu Chi Tunnels also host a shooting range. The cost for firing an M16 is priced at 35,000 VND/bullet, with a minimum of 10 bullets. There’s a restaurant serving meals that the underground soldiers had to live with years ago. The Cu Chi Tunnels are just an hour’s drive from Ho Chi Minh City and if you are wondering how to get there, worry no more! Join us on a 1-day tour to experience this amazing attraction!
Find your way through the intricate Cu Chi Tunnels:
5. Mekong Delta
Explore Vietnam’s picturesque Mekong Delta on a trip with a convenient pick up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. The Mekong Delta, located in southern Vietnam, is a stunning maze of rivers, islets, small villages with rice paddies and fruit plantations. After an early morning pick up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh, head over to My Tho and see the peaceful Buddhist Vinh Trang Pagoda. Then, hop on a boat for a calm cruise along the river observing stilt houses, fruit plantations and fishing villages. Head over to Tortoise Islet for lunch before continuing on a boat to An Khanh in the beautiful green province of Ben Tre. Here, you will get to enjoy a light snack of seasonal fruit and aromatic honey tea to the sound of Vietnamese folk music. Stop by for another surprise with a visit to a coconut candy mill and watch how the traditional candy is made before heading back to Ho Chi Minh. Book a Mekong Delta day tour from Ho Chi Minh City at Trazy and enjoy crazy discounts!
Take a trip through the Mekong Delta:
So, are you ready for this fascinating trip? Don’t hesitate anymore! Start packing and join us right now! There are so many other activities are waiting for you to explore in this city.
For more information, visit Trazy.com, Asia’s #1 Travel Shop.
Bin Tay Market: Pinterest
Goi Cuon: Pinterest
Cu Chi Tunnels Official Site, Pinterest