The two of us in the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as the locals and Billy Joel call it, is imho the most Western city in Vietnam.
Yes, traffic is still crazy, yet more orderly than in the north. There are 7 million motorcycles ans 9 million people, our guide told us. The remaining 2 million are children. Usually with a parent on a motorcycle, or two. Families of four on one motorcycle weren’t an exception in Vietnam.
In just a couple of hours we were rushed from one highlight to another. We started with a pho. It was very different and definitely spicier than the ones we had in the north. And then, we got to see:
Thien Hau pagoda
This is a really beautiful 19th century Chinese style pagoda with very nice little figurines on the roof. In the pagoda the are large coils of incense burning above people’s heads.
The three statues in the middle are all Thiên Hậu, the Lady of the Sea. People believe she can ride the clouds and travel over the oceans on a mat to save people who are in danger. She is a deity from the traditional Chinese religion.
The temple gets a lot of Chinese visitors that have their wishes written on the pink papers you see in the temple.
Bin Tay Market
Bin Tay is the biggest wholesale market in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built in 1930 by a wealthy Chinese man called Quach Dam. You can find his statue in the middle of the market.
The market offers anything you need: herbs, fruit, vegetable, dried food, shoes, clothes, toys, souvenirs … But also weird stuff such as dried sea cucumbers.
The Reunification palace
The Reunification palace or the Independance palace was built in the sixties by Ngo Viet Thu. It was home to the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam war. When a North Vietnamese tank crashed its gate, the war ended.
Nowadays, you can visit the palace.
The Notre Dame cathedral
A classic sight
The Post office
What looks like a railway station, is in fact the magnificent post office of Ho Chi Minh. Get your stamps or buy a souvenir there!
War Remnants museum
The (very busy) War Remnants Museum used to be called the American and Chinese War Crime Museum and presents the Vietnamese perspective. Pictures show you all the horrible things the Americans and their allies did.
But there’s one downside: you don’t get to see what the Viet Cong did. It’s not like they played nice, my husband pointed out to me. Travelling with a historian is a good thing. That’s why I would recommend to visit the Cu Chi tunnels as well. Then you get the whole picture.
Grand Hotel Saigon
We loved this hotel.
It has a really nice swimming pool which was ideal for escaping Saigon’s hustle and bustle.
The rooftopbar offers a really nice view on Ho Chi Minh City. And we loved their cocktails.
Khancasa Tea House
I met my friends Inga Rós and Hjörtur and their kids here. It’s a very nice place to have lunch. I had a chicken broth which was really good and the lemon grass tea was simply delicious.
Do you want to discover more about Vietnam? Read what we did.