There’s no point in coming up with a nickname for Vietnam’s largest city because it’s so magical that it already has several: Pearl of the Far East, Paris of the East and – of course – Saigon. It’s a busy place – so busy, in fact, that it’s been elected second most dynamic city in the world. And here I thought the local village high street was rather hectic during rush hour.
Anyhow, this is a spectacular location for all sorts of excitement – just beware of the traffic, it’s as wild as its reputation (which is very wild)! Once you’ve crossed the street in one piece, though, you’ll be met with the most amazing fusion of older times, newer times, and – French times. Yeah. You see, Ho Chi Minh City used to be a colony so you can see exquisite French architecture here: they even have their own Notre-Dame!
But enough about that already, and come explore this remarkable city with us!
Pro Tip: Check out the tours where you’ll have locals as your guides, it’s a safe and fun way to get to learn all the hidden gems and secrets of the area!
If you kind of like the idea of sightseeing but walking around or sitting on a bus just isn’t your thing, then you’re in for a real treat: the ritual murder of Dr Lam needs to be investigated, and you’ve been chosen to solve this horrific crime. Clues will take you to traditional medicine shops and ancient temples – you might even uncover an old mystery! Don’t worry, you’ll be provided with a magnifying glass.
Should your thirst for the eerie and implied violence not yet have been quite quenched, don’t worry because the Cu Chi tunnels are even more so. During the Vietnam War, the need for shelter from dropped bombs resulted in not only soldiers but whole villages moving underground, and at Ben Dinh, you can go down in reconstructed tunnels and even have a very sparse meal. Want untouched tunnels instead? No problem, head to Ben Duoc instead!
While you’re at it, you might as well give the War Remnants Museum a visit. Here the horrific actions being taken during the war are on display in the shape of artefacts, photos, documents and films, and it’s far from uplifting, but that’s kind of the point: it’s an essential reminder of why solidarity and peace need to be vital parts of our future. On a more cheerful note, there’s also a museum celebrating Vietnamese women and their accomplishments, go give that a visit as well!
Now, you can easily check this river and its surrounding area out in an afternoon, but it’s definitely worth more of your time with its unique ecosystems, large rice fields and several cities! Have a look at pagodas, experience a culture different from the rest of Vietnam and visit all the islands you can find – and whatever you do, don’t miss the floating markets with hundreds of boats packed with fruits and flowers you’ve never heard of – and some familiar ones too, of course!
Vietnam can be hot. Very hot. Which is why we’re gonna give you a bonus pro tip: visit a water park. Or two. Three. Five! At Suoi Tien you’ll not only find magically refreshing, cool water and excellent slides, but it’s also the first water park with Buddhism as its theme! Imagine the photos you can take. And that goes for Dam Sen Park as well, with less water but way more rides – and a whole bunch of themed gardens, squares and islands that might just make your Insta feed implode with excitement.
A bit outside of Ho Chi Minh City you’ll find this fantastic area full of animals, greenery and amazingly scenic views. It’s incredible for both biking and hiking, and amongst the delicate, beautiful flowers and large tree trunks you might get involved in some monkey business – but don’t get too close, they might not play by the rules! This is pretty much a prototype of a wild jungle, and it’s a lovely, welcome contrast to the super-busy city. Just watch out for mosquitos. They bite before they bark.
If you’re still not quite ready to face the city, this mountain peak, all in it’s lonesome, will give you even more of that sweet, sweet nature. It starts out as a hike, but soon you’ll realize that you’ve been climbing big boulders and small rocks for a while – should you feel so inclined, it’s possible to take a cable car about one-third of the way (in the beginning, so you’ll save all your power for the fun part!). At the top, there are pagodas and – again! – monkeys! Oh, and pretty cool views, if you’re into the whole panoramic landscape thing.
Surely you’re ready to go back to the lights and sights of the city by now? Cool, because it’s time for some Vietnamese entertainment! Water puppets and other shows at the Opera House are on the menu, and speaking of that: if you want some both local, fresh and delicious food, go to a wet market (can be found in an alleyway near you)! If you got no time for cooking, there’s fantastic food to be found on most streets – thanks to the French influence, there are baguettes everywhere! Isn’t that just the dream?!
Otherwise, you might get all grumpy and not enjoy this fab city to its fullest – and that’s verging on criminal, probably! So fill up your water bottle (although not from any tap!), take a crash course in Vietnamese, and we might see you in Ho Chi Minh City (if you’re going, let us know)!