You have three days to explore HCMC, where you should go and what to do to have enjoyable experience? Here are the detailed suggestions from Wanderlust Tips for you to have a perfect journey in HCMC.
Ben Thanh Market – Saigon’s most famous feature
Located in District 1, where Le Loi, Phan Boi Cha, Le Thanh Ton and Phan Chi Trinh interest, the market was originally constructed with brick, a wood frame and with a leaf roof. It was located next to Ben Thanh River bank, near Gia Dinh Citadel, which is Ho Chi Minh City today, hence it was named Ben Thanh. After multiple restorations and rebuilding, today Ben Thanh Market has a history of more than 100 years and has witnessed the ups and downs this city and the country as a whole.
♦ Top tips: Currently the market is home to about 1,500 stores. In southern part products like cloth and dried foods are sold. The northern area has fresh flowers, fruit and food. In the East cosmetics, cookies and candy are available to purchase. And the West offers shoes, handicraft and souvenirs. Along the sidewalk surrounding the market, there are stores displaying all kinds of goods for tourists.
♦ Must see: Park 23/9 located between Le Lai Street and Pham Ngu Lao in District 1.
♦ Cuisine: Rice pancake folded in half at the West and East gate of the market, sweet porridge store that has been around for 40 years at gate no.7, pan-fried scrambled egg rice cake, vermicelli with fish sauce, vermicelli and sour crab soup opposite the East gate.
Paris Community Square – A little bit of Paris in the heart of Saigon
This small square in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, connects Dong Khơi and Le Duan Street. Two of the most famous architectural structures of the city are located here: Duc Ba Church and the Central Post Office. The church is built in the Roman – Gothic architecture style of 12th century Europe and emulates the Duc Ba Church in Paris. All construction materials and decorative elements were shipped from France. The Central Post Office on the other hand combines the architecture of Europe and Asia. The front façade is decorated with the names of businessmen. Nestled into the arched roof is a big clock. The two high walls of the entrance hall have a fresco of historical maps of Saigon and there are over 35 stalls serving customers.
♦ Must see: The pink Tan Dinh Church on 289 Hai Ba Trung and Le Van Tam Park on Vo Thi Sau Street known as Saigon’s rich men’s cemetery.
♦ Cuisine: Noir – Dining in the Dark on 178 Hai Ba Trung, Ngon Restaurant on 160 Pasteur, Pizza 4P’s on 8/15, Le Thanh Tong or at in the ‘lane of snacks’ on 177 Ly Tu Trong.
Nha Rong Wharf – President Ho Chi Minh left the country from here to begin his quest for salvation
Nha Rong Wharf also known as the Ho Chi Minh Museum is located at the intersection of the Saigon River at the top of Nguyen Tat Thanh Street. On the 5th of June 1911 a young man named Nguyen Tat Thanh, who would later be known as President Ho Chi Minh, got on board the “Admiral Latouche Treville” here to begin his search for the salvation of his nation. Today tourists coming to the museum find a display of images and objects about the revolutionary activities of President Ho Chi Minh. Various activities are organised here frequently here, including art performances, traditional storytelling and the enrolment of new members to the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.
♦ Top tips: The address is No.1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, District 1. Opening time: 7:30am -11am and 1:30pm – 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday.
♦Must see: Thu Thiem Tunnel – the tunnel under Saigon River, has the most advanced design of such a structure in South East Asia.
♦ Cuisine: Bien Nho Restaurant, Elisa Restaurant on 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Things Café, Mockingbird Café on14 Ton That Dam.
War Remnants Museum – One of the world’s most beautiful museums
The War Remnants Museum has a display of research materials, images and objects related to the subject of the study, collection and preservation of the evidence and consequences of the wars brought to Vietnam by outside forces. The museum aims to educate the public, especially the younger generations, about the fighting spirit that protects the independence of the nation, how to fight against invaders, and protect the peace, unity and friendly spirit between nations across the world. In 2016, the museum was voted one of the 25 most beautiful museums in the world.
♦ Top tips: The address is No. 28 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3. Open daily from 7:30am – 12am and 1:30pm – 5pm. The entrance fee 15,000VND per person for foreigners and 2,000VND per person for Vietnamese citizens.
♦ Cuisine: Highlands Coffee located in the museum’s compound, Hum Vegetarian Cafe & Restaurant at 32 Vo Van Tan, Marina Saigon at 172 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Shanghai Chicken Rice on 21 Vo Van Tan.
Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh City – The 99-door mansion of a legendary Saigonese tycoon
Located in the heart of the city, the Fine Arts Museum’s building on 97 Pho Duc Chinh in District 1, is a thing of ancient beauty, nestled into the branches of old trees. The majestic building harmoniously combines the architecture of Asia and Europe. It once belonged to Mr Hua Bon family. Also known as Uncle Hoa, he was one of the four richest men in Saigon at the end of 19th century. According to legends passed down through many of Saigon’s generations, this building is the location of more than one mysterious anecdote. In 1987, it was restored and rebuilt by the Ho Chi Minh People Committee to become Ho Chi Minh City’s Fine Arts Museum. A treasure of art works is on display here, including the large-scale lacquer paintings “North Central South Spring Garden” by Nguyen Gia Tri, who is considered a national art treasure.
♦ Top tips: Open daily from 9am to 5pm. Entrance fee is 10,000VND per adult and 3,000VND per child.
♦ Must see: Bitexco Financial Building on 36 Ho Tung Mau, District 1, which is the highest building in Ho Chi Minh City.
♦ Cuisine: L’Usine Le Loi Breakfast on 70A-70B-68 Le Loi, La Fiesta on 33 Đang Thi Nhu, Café-Restaurant Ho Chi Minh City on 171 Calmette, My Sweetened Porridge 2 on 119 Nguyen Thai Hoc.
Chinatown in District 5 – A bustling trading centre
Most of Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinese population lives in District 5, resulting in Chinese built streets sporting architecture featuring their culture.
The centre for living and trading of most Chinese in the city is the big market area that includes a few famous markets selling various products. Binh Tay Market offers mostly dried seafood, mushrooms, sugar-coated fruit, candy, clothes, shoes and sandals and leather bags, at Soai Kinh Lam Market fabric is the main item being sold and Kim Bien specialises in wholesale. The surrounding streets including Hai Thuong Lang Ong, Chau Van Liem, Hau Giang and Lam Tan Ke are no less crowded and are filled with business stalls on both sides of the street.
♦ Must see: Ba Thien Hau Pagoda on 710 Nguyen Trai is the oldest Chinese built structure in the big market area.
♦ Cuisine: There is an abundance of food featuring Chinese cuisine including: noodles with seasoned and sautéed beef served hot and with delicious sides, glutinous rice cakes rolled in sesame and sugar on Cao Van Lau Street, Chinese sweet porridge at Dong Khanh Residence, roasted duck, roasted pig, roasted duck with egg noodle soup, stewed sweet Herbal chicken soup, shrimp dumpling or ravioli soup.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda – A symbol of Vietnamese Buddhist architecture of the 20th century
Located at No. 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia in District 3, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda features the architectural style of the pagoda with same name in Duc La Village of Tri Yen Commune in Yen Dung District, Bac Giang Province. Pagodas with architecture following this shape include a three-arched-entrance gate and a central house. Three large staircases lead to the rooftop and the Buddha Temple. The Buddha Temple follows Northern pagoda architecture as seen in the curved roof corners with two adjoining levels of roof tiles. At the roof centre of the Buddha Temple are two Dharma wheels the corners are shaped like a phoenix head.
On the left of the central building of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is Quan The Am Tower , which at 35 metres in height is one of the most majestic towers of Vietnamese Buddhism. In the pagoda’s compound, sits the 14 metres high Vinh Nghiem Stone Tower constructed from 80m³ of Thanh Hoa stone and modelled on But Tower in Hanoi. Until 2013 this was the biggest and highest tower in Vietnam.
♦ Cuisine: Ngoc Son Ben Thuyen Restaurant on 11 Cong Ly Bridge, Diep Phap Vegetarian Restaurant on 303, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Effoc Coffee on 8 Nguyen Van Troi.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden – Sanctuary to Vietnamese animals and plants
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden at 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem in Ben Nghe is one of the oldest constructions in Ho Chi Minh City. They were originally a botanical garden built by the French in 1864 as a place to preserve animals and nurse plants. In 1956, the Botanical Garden was rebuilt and renamed Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden. From 1984 to 1989 it continued to be improved on a large scale, with a special focus on the breeding facilities suitable to each species. According to the data collected, currently Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is home to more than 590 animals of 125 species, 1,800 trees belonging to 260 species, 23 kinds of domestic orchids, 33 kinds of cacti, 34 kinds of bonsai and 20 hectares of grass carpet. Besides the zoo, the bonsai and orchid collection area, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden also has a recreational area for children.
♦ Top tips: Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is open from 7am to 6:30pm every day. Entrance fee is 50,000VND per adult over 1.3 metres tall, 30,000VND per child from 1 metre to 1.3 metres tall and free for children less than 1 metre.
♦ Cuisine: Ocean Palace on 2 Le Duan, Bloom Saigon Restaurant on 3/5 Hoang Sa, broken rice street with a selection of stalls offering food at cheap price around 100 Thach Thi Thanh, longan ice-cream at No.2 Truong Han Sieu.
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