Where to hang around in Ho Chi Minh city

Last May, my nephew invited me to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) for holiday. He has been working for a prestigious travel company called Eviva Tour Vietnam so that he can share a lot of useful information to a 1st-time-in Vietnam-guy like me. And here is what I’ve been recommended to spend time out in Sai Gon (former name of HCMC)

Ben Thanh Market-1

The first thing to tell is that most of the famous landscapes located in District 1. In other words, if you are not too ambitious, sightseeing in district 1 is enough. One of the Must-see places should be the iconic Notre Dame Basilica at Ben Nghe area in the most center of the city. For a long time, this church has become an attribute of Sai Gon and appeared countless times on numerous postcards and newspapers. First established in 1863 by French colonists, the church was opened in 1880 and had two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters.

The next destination is 30-4 park on the left-hand side of Notre Dame, across the street. This place has formed a new culture of drinking coffee for a few years. It really is interesting to see people sitting right on a paper (or not) on the ground to drink a plastic cup coffee at VND 10,000 by street vendors around the park, especially in the morning. You can also call omelet bread for breakfast.

After finishing your coffee, go ahead just a little bit to the Reunification Palace 200 meters away. This site opens from 8.30 to 16.30 everyday with the price of VND 30,000 for adults and VND 15,000 for children. Reunification Palace, formerly known as Independent Palace, was completed in 1966 and was used as home and workplace of President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the milestone of the end of the War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30th 1975 when a North Vietnam Troop tank crashed through its gate. This landmark will take you around 1 hour to visit.

Leave the palace and take a walk of about 1 km to another iconic place of the city, Ben Thanh Market. This is one of the oldest markets of HCMC and exsists through an over-a-century-long history with numerous times of establishment, destruction and renovation. Come here and you can easily find almost everything from local textiles, handicrafts, ao dai to local cuisine.

Now if you are not a practiced walker, take a cab or motorbike taxi to Saigon Opera House which is nearly 2 km away. Officially named The Municipal theatre of HCMC, it is a typical model of French Colonial Architecture in Vietnam built in 1897 with 800 seats inside.

Take a rest and then head to another famous landmark named Saigon Central Post Office which is near the Notre Dame. This work was designed and constructed by the world famous architect Gustave Eiffel in harmony with the surrounding area.

Well, now you have finished sightseeing all the famous landscapes of the city and back to the beginning point. Tired? Thirsty? Go get another iced milk coffee at 30-4 park watching Notre Dame Basilica once again. If you do not want to sit there again, wait and see my next article of where to eat and drink in HCMC. Have fun!


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