Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and its economic motor. Since it lies some 100km from the Mekong delta it is the perfect starting point for some excellent excursions. On the other hand much of old Saigon was lost during the Vietnam War. However, splendid colonial masterpieces still dominate the city center together with newly built high rise commercial buildings. The city center is perfect for walking. Nevertheless, please take care of yourself and mind the wild motorbikes. It’s the one thing that sucks all around Vietnam, and especially in Ho Chi Minh City: aggressive reckless drivers.
To us, Ho Chi Minh City lacks the exotic charm of Hanoi and Hoi An. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. The French colonial city center is actually very pretty. At the same time, the city has a couple of very interesting futuristic buildings. Most of the important places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City are located in its historical core, around the beautiful Saigon Opera House. We stayed at the nearby Sophia Hotel and were able to explore the whole area on foot.
Regarding colonial architecture, the highlights are the People’s Committee Hall (City Hall), the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Other buildings worth checking are the Reunification Palace, the Ben Thanh Market and the museums of Vietnamese History and Fine Art. If you are into modern skyscrapers or fantastic views, head over to the Saigon Skydeck on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower, Vietnam’s tallest building.
Just like everywhere in Vietnam, food in Ho Chi Minh is heaven. Delicious restaurants are everywhere and for a very affordable price. Massage parlors are another city asset. We had superb massages every day. Unfortunately, we skipped the Cu Chi Tunnels, since we thought the experience might be too overwhelming. No worries, we have to go back to Vietnam to visit the Mekong Delta. Visiting this gorgeous country requires more than the 30 days granted by our Visa!