Ho Chi Minh City Discovery
Ho Chi Minh is the biggest city in Vietnam. It was considered as “the pearl of the Far East” for its beauty and specialty. In order to visit all of Ho Chi Minh City attractions, it will take you about 2 or 3 days. As visiting historical sites, amusement parks and Vietnamese restaurants, you can immerse yourself in a vibrant and friendly atmosphere, gain exhilarating experience in culture and history, and enjoy one of the best cuisine in the world. The places below are ideal destinations that you should definitely come.
CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL SITES1. Notre Dame Cathedral
Constructed between 1863 and 1880 by the French colonists, following their conquest of the city, the building reaches a height of up to 60m. Its design, apart from the intention to create a religious look, aims at showing the influence of French civilization and Christianity over Saigon. At the time it was built, the Basilica was the most beautiful cathedral of this kind amongst all French colonies. All the materials were directly imported from France like red bricks of the outside walls, which retain their bright and lively red color until today. To people’s amazement, the two bell towers, each with the height of 60.5m and 6 bronze bells have just been added in 1895.
Source: Vietnam Online
2. Central Post Office
Located right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City - at number 2, Paris Commune Street, District 1, The Central Post Office is one of the oldest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built around 1886 – 1891, based on the design of Gustave Eiffel – a famous French architect and has become a significant symbol of the city, just like its opposite neighbor Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. It has long been the busiest post office of the country. Being a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, this building fascinates tourists by its typical colonial French features, from exterior to interior decorations. By the first time, visitors may feel that they’re brought back to 20th century railway station in Europe, rather than a post office in an Asian country.
Source: Vienam Online
3. Reunification Palace
Palm trees surrounding, the 1960s architecture of this government building and the eerie mood that accompanies a walk through its deserted halls make this place an intriguing spectacle. The first Communist tanks to arrive in Saigon rumbled here on 30 April 1975 and it’s as if time has stood still since then. The ground floor is arranged with meeting rooms, while upstairs is a grand set of reception rooms, used for welcoming foreign and national dignitaries. In the back of the structure are the president’s living quarters. The 2nd floor contributes a card-playing room, completes with a round leather banquette, a barrel-shaped bar, hubcap light fixtures and groovy three-legged chairs set around a flared-legged card table. There’s also a cinema and a rooftop nightclub.
Source: Lonely Planet
4. War Remnants Museum
Formerly it was the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes. It is now called the War Remnants Museum, which is consistently popular with Western tourists. When visitors come, they can see US armored vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons which are on display outside. One corner of the grounds is devoted to the notorious French and South Vietnamese prisons on Phu Quoc and Con Son Islands. They can also see a lot of artefacts including that most iconic of French appliances, the guillotine, and the notoriously inhumane ‘tiger cages’ used to house war prisoners. Coming inside, the visitors will be impressed by strong evidence of American and other wars in Vietnam. This place is considered one of the most impressive destinations in Ho Chi Minh City.
Source: Lonely Planet
5. Nha Rong Wharf
Nha Rong Wharf is a cultural site with special relics in Ho Chi Minh City, where late President Ho Chi Minh left to seek ways to save the nation 100 years ago. Nha Rong Wharf - Sai Gon’s trading port on the Sai Gon River – was built in 1863 by French colonialists. The building was a combination of Western and Eastern architecture. It has two dragons "dragons flanking the moon" so often referred to as "The Dragon", and the port is also called Nha Rong Wharf. After the French colonial were defeated in 1954, the port was managed by the South Vietnam government which repaired the roofs of the two houses and replaced the old dragons with two new ones that dace outwards. After Unification Day, the building became a historical relic and memorial area for President Ho Chi Minh.
6. Cu Chi Tunnel
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.
7. Ao Dai Museum
Honoring Vietnam's national dress, this large and private museum is located in District 9 that is very a long way from the city center. However, your mind will be blown by its surrounding scenery, which makes you feel like that you are now in Mekong Delta surrounded by water coconut trees and canals The private museum, belonging to a famed designer namely Sy Hoang, was established with the aim of helping both domestic and foreign tourists to learn about Vietnamese dress culture. The museum showcases a fantastic collection of "Ao Dai" in different periods, ranging from the earliest days to the modern time. They were owned by the kings, royal members, noted artists and actresses, etc. In addition, stories around these dresses and their owners are also highlighted. Sy Hoang’s collections that won major prizes at international contests, along with over 3000 photos of the tunic, are also on display. Visiting this place means going for a stroll around the section, which exhibits literature, music, cinema and art inspired by the traditional costume.
Source: Viet Fun Travel
8. Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Here, you’ll find eating stalls inside the market where you can get a taste of hawker-style Vietnamese cuisine or simply cool off with a cold drink when the bargaining becomes too much. When night falls, restaurants around the perimeter of the market open their doors creating a vibrant street side scene filling the air with the scents of wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish and meats. Being one of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.
Source: Vietnam Guide
FOOD ATTRACTION GUIDE
1. Banh Mi
Available almost everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, banh mi is a quintessential Vietnamese dish that you should never miss out on. This baguette sandwich is priced between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000, with pickled vegetables, pate, butter, soy sauce, cilantro, chilies, and hot peppers. Quick and tasty, you can also choose from a variety of meat fillings for your banh mi, including heo quay (roasted pork belly), cha ca (fried fish with turmeric and dill), cha lua (boiled sausages), xiu mai (meatballs), thit ga (boiled chicken), trung op la (fried egg), thit nuong (grilled pork loin), and xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork).
Noodles Pho is rice noodle that’s served in a flavourful soup with beef, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and greens such as basil, mint, cilantro, and onions with a side of chilli sauce for added spice. A basic bowl contains tai (beef slices), bo vien (beef meatballs) or nam (beef flank), but diners can also opt for more exotic ingredients such as gan (beef tendon), sach (thinly-sliced pig stomach), and ve don (flank with cartilage). This popular breakfast option is priced between VND 20,000 and VND 30,000 at any local restaurant or street market in Ho Chi Minh City.
3. Oc (Vietnamese Shellfish)
Best enjoyed with cold beers, oc refers to platters of Vietnamese shellfish that are prepared in varying methods. Due to its popularity, there are plenty of roadside stalls and inexpensive restaurants with raw snails, blood cockles, clams, shrimps, and crabs displayed out front. After selecting those that strike your fancy, you can enjoy them grilled, sautéed, curried, or steamed. Priced at VND 20,000 onwards, we highly recommend grilled mussels with scallion oil and peanuts (chem chep nuong), blood cockles sautéed in tamarind sauce (so huyet rang me), and clams steamed with lemongrass.
4. Com Tam (Broken Rice)
Com tam is actually ‘broken rice’ in Vietnamese, usually served with fried egg, diced green onions, and a variety of meats such as suon nuong (barbecued pork chop), bi (shredded pork skin), and cha trung (steamed pork and egg patty). Diners can also enjoy this dish with a side of pickled vegetables, cucumber slices, and nuoc cham Vietnamese dipping sauce. Com tam can be enjoyed any time of the day as it is relatively inexpensive, with street markets and roadside food stalls selling for about VND 20,000 per bowl.
5. Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
Goi cuon or Vietnamese spring rolls comprise vermicelli noodles, pork slices, shrimp, basil, and lettuce tightly wrapped in translucent banh trang (rice papers). Due to its very subtle flavour, you can dip it in a mix of freshly ground chilli and hoisin-based dipping sauce topped with crushed peanuts. This traditional appetiser is a healthier alternative to cha gio, which is a deep-fried egg roll made with a combination of mung bean noodles, minced pork, and various spices.
6. Banh Xeo (Crispy Pancake)
Banh xeo is a savoury pancake that’s made of rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, stuffed with ingredients such as pork slices, shrimps, sliced onions, bean sprouts, and button mushrooms. Unlike the ones you find in Nha Trang and Hanoi, ban xeo in Ho Chi Minh City is much smaller in portion as it is usually eaten as a snack or appetiser. The best way to enjoy ban xeo is by wrapping it in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice wrappers, together with mint leaves, basil, herbs, and sweet fermented peanut butter sauce. Lastly, dip it in a sweet and sour fish sauce.
7. Hu Tieu (Rice Noodles)
Hu tieu is a subtler version of pho noodles, featuring a clear pork-based broth, flat rice noodles, and an assortment of pork toppings. There are also countless variations available in Ho Chi Minh City, though the most popular one is hu tieu xuong, which is topped with pork ribs. Alternatively, you can enjoy hu tieu with shrimp, squid, or fish if you’re not a fan of pork. A bowl of hu tieu is usually priced at VND 18,000 at street stalls and VND 25,000 onwards if you’re dining at more established restaurants.
8. Ca Kho To (Caramelised Fish in Clay Pot)
Served in numerous Vietnamese restaurants within Ho Chi Minh City, ca kho to refers to catfish braised in a clay pot. This dish is prepared by cutting a whole catfish into fillets before it’s braised in a thick gravy made with a combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, shallots, garlic, and various spices and seasonings. Due to its intense sweet-salty flavour, ca kho to is always served with a plate of white rice.
9. Banh Cuon (Rolled Cake)
Loosely wrapped in a steamed fermented rice sheet, banh cuon contains a mix of ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, onions, Vietnamese ham (cha lua), steamed beansprouts, and cucumbers. You can easily spot vendors selling banh cuon in prominent marketplaces such as Cholon and Ben Thanh Market as well as local restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. This traditional Vietnamese dish is sometimes topped with shrimp floss, coriander, and herbs, with a sweet-sour dipping sauce made with fish extract, lime, and chilli.
10. Bun Thit Nuong (Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork)
A hearty dish in Ho Chi Minh City, bun thit nuong features vermicelli rice noodles with freshly chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrot, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint, topped with grilled yet tender pork shoulder. Diners can also opt for bun thit nuong cha gio, which comes with crunchy slices of cha gio (deep-fried eggrolls). As with most Vietnamese dishes, you also get a side of nuoc cham sauce to mix into the bun thit nuong for a flavourful ensemble.
You can read and download a free e-book of 25 famous dishes at https://migrationology.com/vietnamese-food-guide-saigon/