The Best Travel Guide to Ho Chi Minh City
Provided by: Aleksandr Zykov
Section in Ho Chi Minh City
Do & See
The best way to see Saigon and its districts is on foot. Most major tourist attractions are in District 1. There you’ll find the History Museum or the famous Ben Thanh Market. You will also find find many beautiful temples and gorgeous architectural buildings in the city. To truly understand the meaning of the temples and buildings around, visit the Museum of History which houses 2, 000 years of Vietnam’s history. Stroll around the city and discover the smaller lovely districts to find your own favourite.

The Independence Palace(Dinh Doc Lap)

Located just 6-minute walking from Saigon Notre Dame Basilica, Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, is another must-not-be-missed destination in Vietnam’s second largest city. The today’s Independence Palace was actually first designed by French architecture, then officially constructed on 23 February 1868 with a name of Norodom Palace, and finished after 3 years. This is where a lot of French and Japanese colonist-generations used to work and live during the colonial period before 1954. The Palace was designed with a concept of modern western architecture mixed with symbolic traditional eastern art. The Independence Palace also has a tremendous historical and cultural value reminding people of a striking event shocking the whole world at that time. Tourists nowadays are attracted not only by the Palace’s historic value but also by its aesthetic surroundings. Walking through the giant cages, ones can see a huge neat lawn full of freshly-mown green grass with an ornamental fountain in the center. The best thing to do is then taking a memorable picture which can capture the whole palace with green grass and the water fountain.
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Cho Lon (Chinatown)

Cho Lon, also well-known as China Town, is a must-see destination in Ho Chi Minh. The place is where Chinese immigrant people (yet they can speak Vietnamese really fluently) are staying and earning their living. In Cho Lon, the biggest and most crowded hub of trading is Tan Binh Market, where sells a lot of clothing, arts and handicrafts with an incredibly cheap price. The best time to visit Cho Lon is when local people celebrating Chinese New Year Festival. During Tet Holiday, all the restaurants, cloth shops are lavishly decorated with multi-colored lanterns, red Eastern parallel sentences. The whole streets seem to be overwhelmed with one single red color. One another activity in Tet Holiday that need to be noticed is Lion Dance performed by local people. Lion Dance is a traditional ritual performed to bring good luck for a new year, in which two men dance costumed in a large ornamental artificial lion head and body. Cho Lon is also an interesting place which can offer tourists a newfangled experience of huddling through a crowd in Tan Binh Market, and trying to haggle with local shopkeepers over some beautiful handicrafts.
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Notre Dame Cathedral

The Catheadral was built by the French in the 19th century with bricks shipped from Marseille. This place gives you a taste of France in the heart of Ho Chi Minh Ville! For a bit of history, Saigon Notre Dame Basilica was not the first church in town, the very first church was built on today’s Ngo Duc Ke Street. However, in order to fully meet the religious and community need of French colonists, commander-in-chief Bonnard decided to build a wooden church in 1863 which was shortly attacked by termites. In 1876, South Vietnam Admiral Duperré organized a design competition for the new church which is today’s Saigon Notre Dame Basilica and architecture J. Bourad won the competition and then was responsible for the construction of the church as well. In 11th April 1880, the official inaugural ceremony took place. 15 years after, the very most unique features of the Church – the two 60-meter high bronze bell towers were then added in to magnify the Church’s beauty. As one may not know, the Notre Dame was the harmonious combination of Roman architecture and the late medieval Gothic features. Until now, the Church still remains its untouched state due to special bricks which were designed and created originally in French and directly transported to Vietnam. Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon is now becoming a popular gathering spot for young generations in Ho Chi Minh and it is considered the idiosyncratic symbol when people first think of Saigon.
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War Remnants Museum (Nha Trung Bay Toi Ac Chien Tranh)

It is not easy to understand the difficulties and cruelty Vietnam has been through but after a visit to this museum you are a little bit closer. The War Remnants Museum was first opened to public on 4 September 1975 with the purpose of restoring the heroic evidence of the war against cruel colonialism. The very first name of Museum was “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes” and then on 10th November 1990, the name was changed to “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Colonialism” before having present official name “War Remnants Museum” on 4th July 1995. War Remnants Museum is one of the worthy-of-visiting destinations in Ho Chi Minh City. The Museum contains a lot of cultural, traditional and national significance reflecting strong determination, restless effort and deep devotion toward Revolution of Vietnamese people during the hardship time. More than 20,000 valuable war documentations, artifacts and films are being exhibited in the Museum, attracting 500,000 both domestic and international visitors annually.
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Cu Chi Tunnel (Ben Dinh)

Approximately 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh city, a very important but almost invisible landmark is located. The tunnels of Cu Chi hide a whole world including classrooms, kitchens and medical facilities underground. Today a park is built around a part of the system and you can see the tunnels from above and even try to go down in one if you're not too claustrophobic. You will get a truly unique experience of crawling inside the dark tunnels to understand the hardships that Vietnamese soldiers had been through during the wartime. One may utterly be amazed by the determination and endurance of those people who dug up tons of solid soils, gravels and sands to construct this 200-kilometer (125 miles) long underground network. But the utmost incredible thing about the Tunnels is the life of people living under earth surface. They put their own life in danger because of lacking of fresh air, water shortage and malaria, which was the second cruelest cause of death while the first one is battle wounds.
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Giac Lam Pagoda

Giac Lam Pagoda built in 1744 is one of the oldest and most popular Buddhist pagoda people usually visit during the Tet Holiday. It was officially accredited as national cultural and historic site by Vietnamese Department of Culture and Information in 1988. Once entering the pagoda through the main gate, one may encounter the garden with a large statue of Bodhisattva under the tall Bodhi Tree – the symbol of Buddhism. Come a little further, the seven-storey stupa with the traditional Southern architecture style will magnificently appear at one’s naked eyes. This is the place where relics of Buddha are being stored and preserved. In addition, there are a lot of precious statutes of Buddha and Bodhisattvas made from both wood and bronze in the Pagoda. The Pagoda is located not too far from the city center, one just need 15-minute drive to get there. It is strongly suggested that one should pay a visit to Giac Lam Pagoda while staying in Ho Chi Minh City.
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