Ho chi minh City
HO CHI MINH CITY Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is still frequently referred to Vietnam’s largest city with a population in excess of 6 million divided into 16 urban districts. It is a fast-paced city full of contrasts as street vendors selling fruit and vegetables can be seen next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques. Saigon’s history is only 300 years old, less than a third that of the capital, Ha Noi.
In 1859 the city was captured by the French and became the capital of Cochinchina; one of the 3 colonies that Vietnam was split into. From 1956 until its dramatic demise in April 1975, Saigon was the capital of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam.
Today Ho Chi Minh City is very much the heart of Vietnamese business and entrepreneurs. Incomes here are typically twice that of Ha Noi and the city’s skyline is rapidly changing, reflecting the sharp influx of foreign trade within the last decade. And yet for all this modernity, the city still retains its connections to the past, particularly so in Cho Lon, Saigon’s Chinatown. Here dozens of elegant temples and pagodas can be seen. The French too left their mark here – the city has many street cafes and patisseries where fresh croissants can be purchased.
We recommend seeing the following sights in Saigon:
Although not the prettiest building in Saigon, it is one of the most important. Here on April 30th, 1975 the American War officially ended when tank number 843 of the North Vietnamese Army crashed through the gates of what was, at the time, the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam.
War Remnants Museum
Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes, this is a poignant display of the futility of war. Some of the black and white photography in the ‘Requiem’ exhibit is particularly touching; dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict. The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks and cannons captured from the American military machine.
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 40 metre towers, topped with iron spires dominate the city’s skyline.
Cho Lon actually means Big Market – a claim that is well justified as Vietnam’s largest market, the Binh Tay is situated here. Also this district (district 5) is home to the city’s 400,000 Chinese and as such the area has many beautiful temples and pagodas. A pleasant way to see these is by hiring a local cyclo driver for a couple of hours.
Ben Thanh Market
This bustling market is very popular with tourists, primarily due to its central location. It has a wide selection of goods ranging from fake Nike shoes to beautiful silk Ao Dai. Be careful with your valuables, as pickpockets are known to operate here.
Giac Lam Pagoda
This is Saigon’s oldest pagoda, dating back to 1744 and one of the finest in Vietnam. Inside 98 pillars and 113 statues and a myriad of 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.
Jade Emperor’s Pagoda
This pretty Cantonese pagoda was built in 1909. Don’t let the pink façade fool you for there are horrors inside! Leading off from the main hall is a small room filled with wood panels depicting the 1,000 torments of hell! The temple is dedicated to the Taoist Jade Emperor, Ngoc Hoang.
Vietnam Package 21 days ~ 'Explore the real Vietnam with PanViet travel!. Code: Routes: Hanoi – Sapa – Halong – Ninh Binh - Hue – Danang – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Saigon – Cu Chi – Mekong Duration: 21 days Feature: Travel in Vietnam is easy, but having the opportunity to explore the real unspoiled Vietnam is not. With this package tour your guide will show you Vietnam at a pace and style that compliments your way of travel. Visit charming Hanoi and bustling Saigon. Participate in the rich and colorful cultures of Sapa and become a part of daily Mekong River life. Not to be forgotten, are the ancient stories of the past told at the numerous World Heritage sites in Vietnam's Center. Finally, at least twice on this tour you will find time to relax and let your mind wander by the sea. Cruise amongst the magic of Halong and sun bathe on the gorgeous beaches of Nha Trang. This is Vietnam travel your way, the way travel should be ! Itinerary in Brief
Visit charming Hanoi and bustling Saigon. Participate in the rich and colorful cultures of Sapa and become a part of daily Mekong River life. Not to be forgotten, are the ancient stories of the past told at the numerous World Heritage sites in Vietnam's Center. Finally, at least twice on this tour you will find time to relax and let your mind wander by the sea. Cruise amongst the magic of Halong and sun bathe on the gorgeous beaches of Nha Trang. This is Vietnam travel your way, the way travel should be !
Itinerary in Brief
Day 1: Good morning Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi, city tour of the 1000 year old capital
Day 3: Hanoi - Tam Coc - Hoa Lu - Sapa, night train
Day 4: Sapa - Ta Phin, trekking and homestay (4 hours)
Day 5: More trekking and back to Sapa
Day 6: Sapa - Tam Duong by Jeep
Day 7: Tam Duong - Sapa - Hanoi, via night train
Day 8: Hanoi - Halong Bay
Day 9: Halong Bay – HanoiDay
10: Your free day in HanoiDay
11: Hue, city tour Day
12: Hue, boat trip - HoianDay
13: Hoian, walking tour in the ancient town
Day 14: Hoian - Nha Trang
Day 15: Nha Trang, island boat trip
Day 16: Nha Trang - Saigon, city tour
Day 17: Tay Ninh and the Cu Chi tunnels
Day 18: Saigon to the fertile Mekong Delta (Cai Be - Can Tho)
Day 19: Can Tho - Saigon
Day 20: Free day in Saigon
Day 21: Departure Saigon, Goodbye Vietnam