Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong River
We start our trip in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City.
Amazing, amazing, amazing. To be fair, most of the hotels we stayed in over our 2 week trip were great, but this one was a definite highlight! Great location (district 1), huge rooms, huge beds, impressive breakfast, lovely staff and… a roof top pool!!! I really can´t fault this hotel. I mean, it was more expensive than others, but when you first arrive it is a bit of a culture shock, and heat shock! So staying in a nice friendly hotel helps. As mentioned in my previous post, we visited Vietnam in May, and it was VERY hot and humid. So my top tip for staying in Vietnam is to always try to have a pool at your hotel.
And what a roof top pool we had!!
Describing HCMC in 1 word? MOTORBIKES! You wont hear this just once, crossing the road is a job within itself, but towards the end your stay you get quite good at it and I even found it quite fun. You just have to keep walking, and they avoid you.
Basically the road rules is, there are no rules. There are no give way signs at roundabout, and bikes will go on the road or pavement at any time. BUT it does work, don´t ask me how! The Vietnamese are very tranquil, so they don´t really get stressed out with any situation, and this helps. The traffic situation is the same in all the country, but HCMC definitely has more bikes than anywhere. There are over 10 million motorbikes in Saigon… that´s more than the nearly 9 million inhabitants.
What we got up to. The top Sights.
Tried to visit and walk around as much of it as possible. Ho Chi Minh City is divided into 24 districts: 7 named urban districts, 7 numbered districts, and 5 outlying named suburban districts. Most of the things to do in the heart of the city occur in District 1 and District 3: this is where you’ll find most of your sights, museums, best eateries, bars, etc.
Here are some of the places you will come across.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Central Post Office
Designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the famous Parisienne tower!
Binh Tay Market
Mariamman Hindu Temple
War Remnants Museum
A must visit.
Details the effects of the 30 year-long war between America and Vietnam. There are immaculately preserved tanks, planes and other war machines in the outside grounds, but the really hard-hitting information is found inside.
Our lovely hotel put us on to Buffalo Tours as we wanted to do two-day trips. I can highly recommend this company. They use lovely minivans with a maximum of 8/9 people per tour with an English-speaking guide.
Cu Chi tunnels
A little on the touristy side, as most of it was destroyed they rebuilt it for tourists to visit. But as it´s quite a short tour (half day) and you will be back at your hotel around 1 ish, you will still have the rest of the afternoon to do their stuff. Never the less, still very interesting and worth the visit.
On the way back from the tour we visited a factory set up by the government for victims from the war, or born with disabilities due to the toxic gases, to have somewhere to work. They would make beautiful mosaics made from egg shells!
The second tour we did, and this was a real highlight for me, was a day trip, including lunch to visit the closest part of the Mekong River to HCMC, a Cao Dai Temple, and the small rural villages around the river.
First stop, Cao Dai Temple. Caodaism is one of the newest religions in Vietnam, and mainly situated in the south of the country. Their temples are highlighted with the most beautiful, bright colours.
Then on to the harbour to board a boat that took us along the Mekong river and visited a small floating market.
Then on to a smaller boat to visit a coconut fudge family business.
It was such a good day, seeing how these lovely people live, and all the things they make!!
This next lady was in her 80´s and was still weaving dried leaves to put on the roofs.
This is the “basket family” and even the little girls get involved. Look how they make the baskets with their feet!
This lady had a small room/factory where she would make 100s of rice water pancakes all day!
And last but not least, on to lunch, made by ourselves!! Well not all of it… but we did make the pancakes!! So it was great as the lunch included a mini cooking class.
As you can see this tour was sooooo good, and really one of my favourite days in Vietnam!!
And that´s all for the trip side of HCMC and what we got up to,
I have a few places I would like to recommend, more foodie spots, but I think I’m going to put them in separate post, or we could be here for days!
Sorry this post was so long, I hope you enjoyed it, please leave me your comments on Saigon below!
See you soon,