Discover Ho Chi Minh Before Everyone Else Does

13 Aug 2015

Ho Chi Minh, the capital of Vietnam (or Saigon as many an old schooler would call it) is the perfect springboard for a holiday in Vietnam. More and more carriers are featuring the destination in their programme, bringing plenty of cheap flights to Vietnam to the masses, so book now and explore before the ancient charm and history gives way to commercialization and western influence.

Vietnam's tourism is increasing year on year as it strives to rival its well discovered neighbour Thailand, the beach resorts of Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue are slowly but surely growing into popular tourist spots, that at first glance could easily rival the likes of Phuket or Krabi in Thailand, however there is still some way to go with its infrastructure, attractions and welcome to tourists.

Do not forget this country was ravaged by a fierce and traumatic war just over half a decade ago, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Ho Chi Minh's War Remnants Museum, where the true horror of the Vietnam war is told through the eyes of the Vietnamese, albeit a bit one sided but still a sobering reminder of the pain and suffering war brings. Another of the city's war themed attractions are the Chu Chi Tunnels, a day excursion just outside the city takes you to some of the preserved underground tunnels the Viet Cong used during the war.

Having visited the museum and the tunnels you find yourself looking deep into the eyes of the elderly, knowing what they have lived through and wondering about their experience, their thoughts and feelings, it is indeed a unique experience and very thought provoking.

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A lot of the buildings in District 1 date back from the French colonial era notably the Notre Dame Cathedral with its two bell towers and statue of the holy Mary, which reportedly shed real tears. If you are really interested in the French colonial era then stay at The Hotel Continental next to the Saigon Opera House, built during the same period as the cathedral the hotel has a fascinating history of both owners and guests.

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Ho Chi Minh is a hectic busy city, even crossing the roads has a knack, often its best to just step out in front of traffic and let them swerve you (search youtube you will find quite a few videos of tourist's efforts). A visit to one of the hustling bustling markets is a must, not just to haggle for designer goods and souvenirs, but to taste some authentic Vietnamese street foods, Pho Bo (beef noodles) is by far the most popular and if you find yourself in Ben Thanh market try to track down the little old lady that has been serving her recipe there for over 50 years.

A two or three day stopover is enough to get the feel of the city maybe add a couple of days if you are going to consider a trip up the Mekong Delta, but then a cheap internal flight to one of the beach resorts that are a few hours by flight, but worlds apart from the city for a relaxing stay and some pampering is well deserved.

Look out for our next post on "Beach Resorts of Vietnam"

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Nha Trang Beach