Ho Chi Minh City Things to Do Tips by xuessium Top 5 Page for this destination
Ho Chi Minh City Things to Do: 1,019 reviews and 2,055 photos
This is the best legacy the French had left behind - the art of making delicious and crispy baguette! For about 5000dongs (US$0.33), the stalls will slap a concoction of pate and meat sauces with chunks of meat mixtures and vegetables into the baguette. As long as you are willing to forgive the mystery meat behind it all - it's a wonderful and tasty snack (or meal)!!
This is the biggest market in HCMC. You can practically get everything here - clothes, food, utensils, arts and crafts, souvenirs, meat and vegetables, coffee powder, etc etc. It's open air - you can move through the many galleries gaping at how many things are being sold here. Bargain hard before you buy anything. My favourite section is the food section - where you can slurp down warm Vietnamese Beef Pho (noodles) (~5000dongs), have cold desserts (~2000dongs) and watch the world go by...as long as you don't mind the chaos going around you.
Jan 2007 Update (from friends): ..." am glad that I have gotten there now than later cause it is now largely invaded by tourists, especially those from Europe. So things are getting expensive and we got slightly burned at Ben Thanh market buying some local delicacies. Later, we actually go to their supermarket which was alot cheaper!!"...
Directions: Near Pham Ngu Lao - the backpacker's district!
Go for a whirlwind ride around the city in a Cyclo, a cross between a trishaw and a tricycle. Experience HCMC like you never before with the traffic coming straight at you! Remember to bargain with the driver before you actually board one less in case you get hookwink.
Jan 2007 UPDATE: Comments from friends - ..."the cyclos are few in numbers now...they hover around the tourist spots only. Our tour guide said that the government has restricted their use"...
There are plenty of Chinese temples in Cholon, HCMC's very own Chinatown. Here, you are bombarded by a galaxy of Chinese temples big and small. Take a cyclo and you'll be gently surprise how many Cyclo drivers have Cholon and its temples on their itinerary. As a Chinese myself, I am not that interested to be seeing more temples, though I did drop by a couple. The major ones in Cholon are: Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda (for the Chinese God "Guan Gong"), Thien Hau Pagoda (for the Chinese Goddess "Tian Hou") and Quan Am Pagoda (for the Budhhist Bodhisattva of "Guan Yin").
The French had left behind a wealth of architecture in HCMC. The 2 most prominent French legacies have to be the General Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Both are side by side so you can kill two birds with one stone. I am not much of an architectural person, but both places made for great photography! However, as these 2 spots are almost on any tourist's itinerary, be prepared to contend with crowds!
Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1
You can't really be in HCMC without meeting Uncle Ho, isn't it? It's right in front of the stately Peoples' Committee Building (which you are not allowed entry), and you will always find tourists here taking a snapshot. It's free; no charges. Does look a little like Lenin, doesn't he?
Directions: The Dong Khoi area
Another thing you will come upon on a Mekong Delta trip - see how ricepaper, so essential in those tasty Goi Cuons (or Vietnamese Spring Rolls), are made by hand. See how ladies could sit in one spot doing the same thing all over again and again and the sheer numbers of rice paper drying away in the sun!
Take the Cu Chi tunnel day tours and you can see for yourself the simple yet effective traps the Viet Cong invented to torture the mighty Americans. Wince and feel the pain. The worse trap belonged to this swinging pole with metal spikes that had two portions - the top going for the chest and the bottom piece allowed to swing and going for the gonads. OUCH!!!!
You get to do this on almost all the Mekong Delta day tours. It's part of the package. Eventually you will reach this village making ricepaper, coconut candies and caramel rice crackers! All day-trippers get a chance to sample the latter 2 (as the ricepaper will be used to make those lovely Vietnamese ricepaper rolls). The coconut candy is very oily but I think the rice crackers are more appreciated - sweet, gooey and crunchy all at the same time. I gave it a pass myself as we Chinese pretty much have the same thing but I could hear the appreciative "umms..." and "yumms...." moaning off the mouths of the many western tourists.
The entry fee is 15000dongs (~US$1). This used to be the Presidential Palace of the defunct South Vietnamese government and the Communists had virtually left the place intact as it was on that fateful day in 1975 when the tanks of the victorious Northern Vietnamese forces came crashing through the gates and the last bastion of American presence was scrambling away at the rooftop in their helicopters. See time frozen at that moment and walk through the opulence of the many stately rooms. See the many pictures capturing the work of the South Vietnamese government and its ultimate failure.
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