3 Days in Ho Chi Minh City
Set out below is how I spent 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City but first, a bit of history. Ho Chi Minh was originally part of the kingdom of Cambodia and was a small port town until the late 17th century. In the 18th century, it became part of Vietnam and was renamed Saigon. However, in the second half of the 19th century, control over the city passed to the French and it became known as ‘Paris of the Orient’.
In 1954, Saigon became the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honour of the prime minister, a revolutionary leader of the communist party. Today it has a population over almost 13 million people with over 8 million motorbikes registered! It is now the largest city of Vietnam accounting for over 30% of GDP. The city is large, busy and has TOO many motorbikes that ride on the pavement – beware!
Day 1 of 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 1 was spent on a Cu Chi Tunnels Tour with Les Rives travelling by speedboat to beat the crowds! Upon arrival,the history of the tunnels and how the Vietnamese people lived during the war was explained.
We were shown the bomb craters, booby traps (some of which looked very nasty!) medical bunkers and more. We also climbed down into a couple of the tunnels which was certainly an experience. You can read more about our tour here.
Day 2 of 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 was spent exploring the city centre:
- Notre Dame Cathedral – it was built in the late 1880s by French colonists and is one of the few remaining buildings representing Catholicism in a largely Buddhist country. The cathedral structure is impressive and certainly worth a visit. It was not open to the public when we visited due to renovation.
- Saigon Central Post Office – you may think it is odd to have this on a list of things to do! However, the Central Post Office, which is situated next door to the Notre Dame, is an attractive French colonial yellow building framed with white trim and curved windows. Inside, it reminded me of a small train station with lots of counters and buzzing custom from the locals. Definitely the poshest post office I have visited!
- War Remant’s Museum – a harrowing yet educational place to visit in Vietnam (entrance is less than £5). The Vietnam War was a long (1955-1975) and costly (both in terms of people (over 3 million people were killed) and money) war. Just reading about it made me pretty furious but it’s important to understand and read about history. Before you enter the museum, you can walk around and view the fighter jets used by the US during the war. The museum itself has two floors showing pictures and telling stories about the war. The worse part for me was reading about ‘Agent Orange’, a chemical that was used by the US against Vietnam which still affects over 5 million people today. At the end, you see the Vietnamese affected by these awful chemicals which includes stilted growth, damages to skin, deafness, blindness and a number of deformities. Just so sad.
- Independent Palace – this palace made history in 1975 when a tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate, ending the Vietnam War.
- Visit Ben Thanh Market during the day and the night for all sorts of souvenirs and street food.
- See the city from above on a rooftop – read some tips here.
- Two things we missed were visiting Jade Emperors Pagoda and Thien Hau Pagoda.
Day 3 of 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City
Our final day was spent on a non touristy tour of the Mekong Delta with Withlocals who specialise in connecting visitors with local guides for unique, personalised and authentic tours. We were taken on an adventure of the Mekong Delta in so many different forms of transport. It was private, authentic and amazing.
You can read more about our trip here.
East London Girl: 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City
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