Once known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is a bustling City quite unlike any other I have ever been to. The sound and sights of scooters will fill your senses from the moment you arrive! Literally thousands of them! Like swarms of ants they wind their way along the roads, seemingly never colliding!
There is no time to be bored with the diverse range of attractions on offer within and outside the City. Take in the history, old & new. Visit temples and dine on street food! There is something for everyone!
Chu Chi Tunnels – (Outskirts Ho Chi Minh)
Probably the most famous attraction just outside of Ho Chi Minh City are the Chu Chi Tunnels, dug out by the Viet Cong during the war to hide from American Troops and sneak up on them. More like mini communities really as they had cooking areas, hospital wings and tool making bunkers. The tunnels have been widened for Westerners, so you can crawl through on your hands and knees – literally! There is also a hidehole you are able to try out – or your husband suggests you get in to for his own amusement! Walk through the jungle and see examples of traps which were used and craters where bombs have gone off leaving huge holes in the earth.
Shoot an AK47
Whilst you are at the Tunnels you are able to pay extra to fire a weapon of your choice. If you are from the UK like us you rarely get the chance to be around firearms. We therefore couldn’t miss the chance to have a go with an AK47. What did I learn? I should never be given a gun as I have terrible aim!
River Viewpoint Drinks – Bitexo Tower
When we go to a new City I like to get up as high as possible and see the area from a different viewpoint. And if that viewpoint has a bar that sells a beer all the better! We found ourselves at the bar in the Bitexo Tower at ‘Happy Hour‘ where if you bought a pitcher of beer you got free garlic bread! So easily pleased! I imagine it would be nice at sunset, but we moved on before this so cannot comment. It was relatively busy and not the best service we had during our stay, it’s a tourist attractions, what did we expect? There was a good view of the City and the large river running through it if you were lucky enough to get a window seat like we were.
Ho Chi Minh Vespa Food Tour
Ho Chi Minh has one of the largest scooter populations in the world and the best way to experience it is to get involved. Unless you are an accomplished rider I do not suggest you do the driving yourself. A great way to get a feel for the traffic and the local cuisine is to go on a Vespa Food Tour. We chose Vespa Adventures, they were outstanding! Yes I did eat frog and yes I DID like it! Just like chicken as everyone says! The feeling of being on the back of the bike in amongst it all was amazing and I didn’t once feel unsafe. Go for it! Try it our for yourself!
Ho Chi Minh Secret Bunker!
It would be very easy to walk past this and completely miss it as it looks just like any other classic little Vietnamese house. The ground floor and first floor have been converted in to a museum explaining the history. The magic is in the basement though, unveiled through a hidden trap door. Once you squeeze yourself in to the tiny hole you will find yourself in the Secret Weapons Bunker! Fascinating and definitely worth hunting out.
Not only a Palace, this building was highly significant at the end of the war and is very interesting to walk around. My husband loved all the old radios/computers whereas I was more interested in the helicopter on the roof.
War Remnants Museum
A must-see museum when visiting HCM City as you cannot visit this country without having even a slight understanding of the horror which took place. A humbling, emotional but amazingly set up exhibition to all those who lost their lives during this war. I felt it gave a balanced view from both sides and was genuinely very interesting. Most museums get about 10 minutes at best of my time before I’m bored. However we were here over an hour and could have stayed longer.
5 O’clock Folly at The Rex
An almost permanent residence for the press during the Vietnam war was the Rex Hotel in the centre of Saigon (HCM). Situated next to the pedestrianised square where a statue of Ho Chi Minh, the rooftop terrace provides an amazing viewpoint. Grab yourself a cocktail and people watch down below whilst watching the sun set. The skyscrapers light up around you.
The Central Post Office & Notre DameCathedral
Another must-see on my list was the Central Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Yes the same gentleman who created the Eiffel Tower in Paris! It’s a beautiful building, still in use today and to me resembled the look of an old train station inside. Opposite this building is the Notre Dame Cathedral so you can take in both of these sites in the same stop.