7 Must-Do Things To See and Do When Your Visit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
If you have the chance to go to Asia, then Vietnam is one country you simply must visit. A warm, welcoming country with an immensely sad history, a trip to Vietnam will be full of vibrant culture, delicious food, unique experiences, as well as plenty of opportunities to learn more about its poignant past. There are so many amazing things to see and do, the people are some of the friendliest in the world, and every city or town you visit is vastly different from the last. One of the main stops in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in the country, named after the former Prime Minister (the city was previously known as Saigon). Below is a list of 6 important things you must do when you visit this vibrant and busy city.
Figure Out How to Cross the Road
The first thing you may notice when you arrive in Ho Chi Minh is just how many motorbikes there are. In fact, as of 2016 it is believed there are at least 37 million bikes just in Ho Chi Minh. The traffic is usually a swarm of bikes, with only a handful of cars, so crossing the road can certainly be intimidating for any first-time visitor! Whilst you may be worrying about how to cross the road without being run down by a motorbike, a tip shared by locals and well-traveled visitors to Vietnam may surprise you! The trick is to simply cross, and keep going – whatever you do, don’t stop, run or turn back. Crazy huh? But the motorbike riders are used to driving around this city, and will easily swerve between pedestrians, as they do with fellow riders. It may sound crazy, but you will soon pick it up and before you know it you’ll be crossing the road like a pro. If you can do it in Ho Chi Minh, you can do it anywhere else in the country! Whether you choose to cross the road in this way or play it safer, crossing the road in Ho Chi Minh is definitely an exhilarating experience all by itself.
Learn about the history of the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum
Now that you’ve mastered how to cross the road in Vietnam, you can get started on seeing some of the amazing sights! Whether you are a history lover or not, the Vietnam War is fascinating and sobering for everyone to learn about. The War Remnants Museum in HCM provides incredible detail about the 30 year-long war between Vietnam and America. Whilst you can see some of the machinery and vehicles in the grounds of the museum, inside the museum is much more chilling but well worth a visit. Visiting the museum in the first few days of your trip can really make you appreciate the country and the history of its people right from the get-go.
Visit the Independence Palace
Whilst you’re on a tour of learning about the history of Vietnam, a trip to the Independence Palace (also called the Reunification Palace) is highly recommended. The Independence Palace was the workplace of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The palace is surrounded by lush gardens and vehicles from the war, and on the inside is preserved almost as though it was frozen in time. Inside you can see all the different rooms used by the President and his staff, as well as secret rooms, underground command bunkers, and a rooftop helipad.
Take a trip to the Mekong Delta
No trip to Vietnam would be complete without a picturesque trip down the Mekong Delta, and from Ho Chi Minh you can easily take a day trip here. It is a fairly long day, so get a good night’s sleep before you head off in the morning, and get your cameras ready as you row down the Mekong in a traditional boat. Most trips to the Mekong Delta include a local lunch cooked and served on one of the islands nearby, and can often include visits to local pagodas, or even a honey farm.
Go to the Cu Chi Tunnels
Another trip to take from Ho Chi Minh which will provide an insight into the other side of the Vietnam War, is the Cu Chi Tunnels. Here you’ll be able to experience how the Viet Cong lived their daily lives in the jungle during the war, witness some of the traps they used, and experience the conditions they were living in at the time. You’ll be amazed at just how tiny these tunnels are, and there will be an opportunity to crawl through some of the larger tunnels yourself, as long as you aren’t claustrophobic!
Visit the food markets for a bowl of Pho or a Bahn Mi
One of the best things about Asia, and in particular, Vietnam, is the food! No matter your preference or dietary requirements, there will be some phenomenal options for you. During your stay in Ho Chi Minh city, visit as many of the food stalls and markets as possible. It’s likely that you can even arrange a food tour through your accommodation, as these are a popular tourist attraction when visiting the city.
Take pictures outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral
One of the most unusual spots in Ho Chi Minh, is the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. You’ll already have noticed plenty of French influence throughout Vietnam, from the food to some of the buildings. Given the French heavily influenced and later colonized Vietnam during the 1800s, it makes sense that Ho Chi Minh City has its own Notre Dame Cathedral.
About The Author: Laura Elizabeth is the writer behind One Way to Wanderland, and fellow worldwide explorer. When she’s not exploring a new destination, she is planning the next one (or five)! On her blog she documents her travels and provides destination guides to help inspire others to travel far and wide. Life’s too short to be lived in one place, after all!