When in Ho Chi Minh

When I told my family and friends that I am going to Vietnam this April, they immediately asked, "Why in Vietnam? What's in there?" Here is a long list of my answers why I went to Ho Chi Minh (formerly known as Saigon), Vietnam. :)

1. Explore one of the less sought-after places in Vietnam - Vung Tau City Tour. Vung Tau is a city in the Southern part of Vietnam. It may not be part of Ho Chi Minh but it is only few hours away from Ho Chi Minh compared to Hanoi. Vung Tau is usually not part of the itinerary of tourists whenever they visit Vietnam.This wasn't part of our itinerary either until my friend searched for the nearest beach in Ho Chi Minh and Vung Tau appeared in the search results so we included it in our must visit places.

Of course, Boracay and other beaches in the Philippines are so much better than this. :p

Besides the beach, there's so much more to visit and discover in Vung Tau. If you are interested in knowing other countries' beliefs and religion, visiting their worship places should always be in your list. In Vietnam, Buddhism is their main religion and their sacred places are the pagodas and temples.

Lang Ong Nam Hai Whale Temple - this is where the remains of a whale (which symbolize the protector of the coast) are found
Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda
This is the Jesus Christ Statue. If Brazil has Rio de Janeiro, then locals tag this as Rio de Vietnam where a giant Jesus stands atop a mountain. 
We climbed 1000 steps to reach the statue.
We visited one park in Vung Tau where it is situated near a wharf and there are plenty of big gumamela flowers planted around the park.

After dropping by at the park, we went to a historical house called the White Palace or White Villa. According to Lonely Planet, "The White Villa was the weekend retreat of French governor Paul Doumer." Sosyal naman ng retreat house niya! :)))

view outside the White Palace
2. Ho Chi Minh's Water Puppet Show. I have seen some puppet shows before, but a puppet show in water? That sounds interesting. According to the brochure of Golden Dragon Water Puppet of Ho Chi Minh City, "Vietnamese traditional water puppetry existed long ago, since 11th century. This program has been present in various international festival and carried cultural exchange activities with other countries."

3. Cheap finds for pasalubong and souvenir at Ben Thanh Market and Chinatown. Who does not love shopping? I bet many girls would raise their hands with me and some guys too. Hehe. Ben Thanh Market is like the Greenhills of the Philippines while Chinatown is like our Divisoria.

Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh
4. Visit Coconut Island. This island is where you'll do the Mekong Delta River cruise but before doing the activity, why not check their little coconut candy factory? Here, you can also buy some local goodies.

Going to Coconut Island

Coconut candy-making 

Short stop before the Mekong Delta River Cruise
5. Mekong Delta River Cruise. A trip to Ho Chi Minh will not be complete without doing the Mekong Delta River Cruise while wearing their conical hat during the whole river cruise.

6. French colonial architectures. Southern Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh was once colonized by the French in the 1800s. As part of the colonization, the French left their marks by establishing and building different architecture like government offices, post office, church, theater house and so on.

City Hall or Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Head Office

Saigon Opera House

I fell in love at the area where Saigon Opera House and City Hall are located because they exude a "France-ish" vibe. I've never been to France but based on what I see in the pictures and movies, they are somehow similar. Just see the pictures below and judge if you agree or disagree with me. :)))

my most favorite street - the street at the side of Saigon Opera House
Notre Dame de Saigon - a cathedral built in the 1800s

Saigon Central Post Office - this structure was designed and constructed by the same person who did the Eiffel Tower - Gustave Eiffel.

The Independence Palace - residence and working place of former leaders of Vietnam

Cabinet Meeting Room
Conference Hall
Banquet Room

Office of the President

Reception room of the President

the hallway

Credential's presenting room

Dining room

Movie theater

Gambling room

View from the top of the Palace
7. Cu Chi Tunnels - another must visit when in Ho Chi Minh because of its rich history. Cu Chi Tunnels are tunnels where Vietnamese guerrillas and fighters hid to plan and do some military campaigns during the Vietnam war.

snippets of how the life of Vietnamese guerrillas was during the Vietnam war

under the tunnels

8. Vietnam History 101. If you are a history geek, then War Remnants Museum might be the place for you when traveling to Ho Chi Minh.

There are so many things to know, discover and explore in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam - may it be in their religion, practices, history et al. Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam per se may not be as famous as other Asian tourist destinations but for me it is still worth the travel and experience!

In case you noticed, I didn't include the food trip part here (eh usually hindi naman nawawala ang pagkain sa mga travel posts ko hahaha). I thought of having a separate post about Vietnamese food. Hihi napaghahalatang matakaw? :))) My next post will be about my food trip experience in Vietnam.

P.S. Of course, thanks to my bff and travel buddy Loren for coming with me in this trip! :)

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