Ho Chi Minh is a big metropolis in the South of Vietnam.
Vietnam requires citizens of several Western countries to get a visa: but it’s easy to get one from Thailand or Cambodia, or even on arrival at the airport. It’s easy to go in the country too as Saigon has various bus services from neighboring Asian countries, and an airport too. From the airport to the city center, take a taxi or a bus (depends what time you arrive, if in the evening, your only choice is a taxi).
- If you do take a taxi, make sure it is from the company Vinasun or Mai Linh, as they are the more reputable taxis you’ll get. Ensure that the driver puts on the meter or if not, negotiate how much the cost of the taxi would be before you get in!
- Do not try to navigate around Saigon in a scooter if you don’t know how to ride one! It is not the same idea as riding a bicycle with a motor.
- Crossing the streets in Vietnam is an art, where the rule is: just keep going: keep your pace steady and walk in a straight path. The motorists would wind their way around you. If you suddenly stop or do anything erratic, like run, the motorists may have a higher probability of hitting you.
- If you’re on a budget, hire one of the motorbike taxis instead of a car taxi to take you to your destination.
What to See:
- War Remnants Museum – it’s a sad place to go to, and most tourists do go but it shows photos from the Vietnam War and how it affected the soldiers, some deformed because of a substance called Agent Orange. Definitely a good stop, and is walking distance from the reunification palace.
- Reunification Palace – What used to be the presidential palace, it’s rooms remain as what it was before the war. You can take a guided through the rooms or wander through: the creepiest part being the basement floors where they show videos. Note that the palace closes for lunch, so time your visit wisely.
- Notre Dame Cathedral – a picturesque church
- Saigon Central Post Office – Go inside to see it’s beauty: it’s architecture is simply stunning, there are some shops inside where you can buy souvenirs but best to buy it from the market
- The Bitexco Financial Tower – If you’ve seen the Avengers movie, you’ll probably think that Stark tower is this place. You can go up to the viewing area for to eat but is quite expensive.
Outside the City:
- Cu Chi Tunnels – Not for the claustrophobes, this shows you how the Vietnamese lived during the war: by digging tunnels that are only fit for their lean bodies. You can try to wriggle in an original tunnel, or walk through a tourist one (read: they made it bigger for the tourists to walk in) – try to do the longest course if you can. At the end of it, you can fire machine guns at an open field.
- Cai Dai Temple – a temple that mixes the teachings of Confucianism, Taoism & Buddhism, it is definitely something different to see.
It’s better to go do a tour for these out of town excursions instead of trying to find a public bus to take you there, in Pham Ngu Lao, there are multiple agents that can help you, the most reputable is Sinh Tourist,