Revisiting cities I have previously visited has been interesting. Last time I was in Vietnam I was part of a tour. I generally like to travel at a pretty slow pace and get a real feel for a place. When I did the tour we went real fast through Vietnam. They were long action packed days. Which was fun, but not how I usually do things. So I’m really happy to be back here to check out some places I missed and revisit some places and spend a bit more time at some, as well I have my buddy Mat who has never been here before.
Ho Chi Minh City(HCMC) is a beautiful city, formerly called Saigon. This city, I really enjoyed last time I was in it. Its filled with lovely parks, and french architecture throughout. It hosts many good restaurants and street vendors, and if you are staying in District 1 you are within walking distance to a lot of the attractions the city has to offer.
Our first stop was to go see the famous post office! This is a still functioning post office. It’s claim to fame is that it was designed by the same architect that designed the Eiffel tower…exciting! Inside it’s a…post office. Its a really nice post office sure, but its filled with tourist shops. But just out side the post office is Notre Dame of Saigon! Surely it’s just as marvellous as the one in Paris! Well maybe not so much. These are some of the not so great attractions of HCMC. They are beautiful in there own ways but feel like children standing in dads shoes, in comparison to what you believe them to be. If you’ve seen the Eiffel tower and Notre Dame in Paris do not expect the same thing in HCMC. These are beautiful buildings to visit but I feel they have big shoes to fill.
We then went on to go visit the War Remnants Museum. This is a spot last time I was here I felt I was cut short to seeing it all. The museum very graphically, shows the horrors of war. It shares views of the Vietnam war from the Vietnamese view which we do not see much of in N.America. It also goes into details of the horrible chemicals, that the American army used during the war and the effect it has on current day Vietnam. This museum is not for the faint of heart or stomach, as it does show very graphic images.
We then checked out the Reunification Palace. Full of throwbacks to the 60’s and 70’s. It’s as if its frozen in time. It has a helipad with a helicopter on it and in the basement a bunker full of old radios. It still houses maps on the walls from the war and seems to be frozen in time.
You can easily walk to all these sites in a day. But if you have the time I suggest you take your time and really enjoy them. The War remnants and Reunification Palace both close for lunch around noon, so plan accordingly for that. You can also take a day tour to Cuchi tunnels from the war. Which proves to be a good day.
HCMC is one of my favourite spots in Vietnam. From my last trip to my current one right now. The city is full of life. The people of HCMC I’ve always found to be very welcoming. If you sit in the park in the evening don’t be surprised if young locals come up to you to practice english. Mat and I both had many young people come and speak to us just to practice there english. I found no harm in this. It means a lot to the locals to speak to native english speakers. The better they get at english the more opportunities open up for them. They can go on to be translators or even tour guides. These are considered very good jobs in Vietnam. I also believe if you can help someone out with a simple task of just chatting with them for maybe 30 minutes then do so. Your helping them a lot and you can also learn a lot about the city from there view.
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