Notre Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà
Ho Chi Minh City-commonly known as Saigon or by the abbreviation HCMC, is the largest city in Vietnam and the Former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Ho Chi Minh City is the heart and soul of Vietnam. It's a bustling, dynamic and industrious centre, the largest city in the country, the economic capital and the cultural trendsetter. Yet within the teeming metropolis are the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture. Saigon was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City on May 1st 1975. However, the old Saigon moniker is still very widely used by both Vietnamese and foreigners - especially when referring to the most central part of the city, to which most tourists flock.
Historical sites in Hochiminh city
Reunification Palace, Enter at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, ☎ +84 8 9693272. open daily 7:30AM-11:00AM, 1PM-4PM. Also known as Independence Palace (this is the old name). This is a restored 5 floor time warp to the 60s left largely untouched from the day before Saigon fell to the North (construction started in 1962 and finished in 1966). Formerly South Vietnam's presidential palace, the war ended on April 30, 1975 when tank #843 crashed through the gate. A replica of that tank is now parked on the lawn outside. Be sure to check out the impressively kitschy recreation room, featuring a circular sofa, and the eerie basement, full of vintage 1960s phones, radios, and office equipment, supposedly left exactly as it was found when the North took over. There is also a photo gallery and a propaganda film recounting how the South Vietnamese supporters and American imperialists succumbed to Ho Chi Minh's indomitable revolutionary forces, upon which point the South Vietnamese supporters were forgiven and everyone lived happily ever after. Tours are available and are free, but not necessary. There is a nice outdoor café on the grounds outside the palace. Entry 30,000 dong.
War Remnants Museum (Formerly), 28 Vo Van Tan Street, ☎ +84 89302112, +84 89306325, +84 89305587. open daily 7:30AM-12PM, 1:30PM-5PM, last admission 4:30PM. The museum was opened in a hurry, less than five months after the fall of the South Vietmanese regime. It has moved to new premises with 3 stories of exhibits and various U.S. military hardware (tanks, jets, helicopters, howitzers) on display outside the building. This disturbing display of man's cruelty during the Vietnam (American) War includes halls full of gruesome photographs, a simulated "tiger cage" prison and jars of deFormed foetuses attributed to contamination by Agent Orange. There is very obvious bias as there are no "records" of any unpleasant deeds having been committed by the North Vietnamese Army. An exhibit on the 3rd floor tells the story of the war journalists from all over the world who Documented, and often disappeared or died in the war. Watch out for the amputees who will try and sell you their wares. It's within walking distance from Reunification Palace — see the museum pamphlet for a map. Entry 15,000 dong.
City Hall, end of Nguyen Hue Street. Originally called the Hôtel de Ville and now Formally re-branded the People's Committee Hall, it's a striking cream and yellow French colonial building beautifully floodlit at night. No entry, but the statue of Uncle Ho in front is a very popular place for photos.
Museum of Vietnamese History, at the intersection of Le Duan Street and Nguyen Binh Khiem (just inside the zoo gates). The museum has a fine collection of Vietnamese antiquities. Read up on Vietnamese history first or you'll have no idea what you're looking at. Outside, the Botanical Gardens are very nice and a good place for a cheap lunch away from the crowds. If you care about animal welfare, avoid the zoo.
Ho-Chi-Minh Museum, Duong Nguyen Tat Thanh, Dist. 4. open daily 7:30AM-12 noon, 1:30PM-5PM, last admission 4:30PM, 10,000 dong entry. The museum (in a French colonial era building) near the dock of Saigon shows the life story of the modern day father of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. There's also a Ho Chi Minh book shop as well. Some may find the theme a little jingoistic but like most things it depends upon your point of view.
Central Mosque, 66 Dong Du, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, ☎ +84 8 824 2903 (Tourist inFormation). 8AM-8PM daily. One of 12 mosques serving Ho Chi Minh City, the Central Mosque was built in 1935. It was originally constructed for worshipers from southern India then resident in Saigon, but now Muslims from as far as Pakistan and Indonesia come to pray. Friday draws the biggest crowds. The shaded verandah and cool stone floors make it an ideal place to sit, read or even nap in the heat of the day. As with most mosques, remember to take your shoes off before entering and dress conservatively if you wish to enter.
Notre Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà), Han Thuyen Street, facing down Dong Khoi (next to the Post Office). Closes for lunch and on weekends. A French-built Catholic cathedral in the city centre. Free entry.
Thien Hau Pagoda, 710 Nguyen Trai St, Cholon. Dedicated to Lady Thien Hau, the sea goddess, who left two giant turtles to keep an eye on things in her absence. A festival is held in her honor on the 23rd day of the March lunar month. Don't miss the gorgeous sculptures in the walls of the courtyard outside the temple. Entry free.
Quan Am Pagoda, 12 Lao Tu, Cholon (Just off Hung Vuong, close to Thien Hau Pagoda). open 8AM-4:30PM. The oldest pagoda in town, home of a lot of incense and a cheerful puppy. Entry free.
Phung Son Tu Pagoda, 408 3 Thang 2 Blvd (On the outskirts of Cholon). Dedicated to the god of happiness and virtue. The pagoda itself is dusty and dwarfed by high-rises under construction nearby, but the small, sculpted grounds are a good place for a rest from the hectic city.
Hochiminh city shopping guide
Ever since the Vietnam’s policy shifted the nation into a market economy, buying and selling has been as ubiquitous as breathing. You are young and fond of modern stylish fashion, jewelleries, etc.? Well, Diamond Plaza and Saigon Square Shopping Center should be your initial stop-over.
If you are looking for toys for your kids, those shopping zones also offer a lot to choose, or you may spend your time in the wooden toy store for special wooden kinds. Or, should you seek some low-priced goods, many street-front shop houses are available everywhere welcoming you to step inside! Yet, it’s ideal that you visit several markets such as Cholon (Big Market) (or China Town) and Ben Thanh market for further choices.
If you are here, I can assure that you will much desire shopping in the city though it is not really a shopping heaven. Why? Because of the mass quantity, the good prices, and last but not least, the hospitality of numerous Vietnamese charming female sellers!
No one ever shopping here can deny that the range of merchandise in Saigon is truly fantastic. Should you can't buy it here, you may not really need it!
Bargaining is considered the most common way to buy things in Saigon. Some often relish bargaining, others hate it. Yet, it is not that much complicated if you think of it as a a harmonious Yin-Yang balance. You want the item, and the seller wants your money. Yin-Yang! The maximum price you are willing to pay is the value of your desire for the item. The minimum price the vendor is willing to accept is the value of their desire for your money. Yin-Yang! Bargaining is simply a search for the Yin-Yang balance between your desire and the seller's. However, should the items have price labels, there is almost no bargaining. Normally, you will fill your suitcase when shopping in Saigon. If you get hungry during your shopping spree, stop for some finger food or relax in one of the Saigon Restaurants along the city's shopping streets.
where should I go?
As the most active city in Vietnam, Hochiminh city offers an excellent variety of clothing, ceramics, ethnic fabrics and lacquered bamboo. Once you are in Ho Chi Minh City, you will surely get spoilt for choice of shops. Thus, to facilitate your selection, we offer a suggested shopping zone list as follows:
Big shopping centers
Tax Department Store - Intersection of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi Streets, Dist.1, HCMC
Ben Thanh market - Dist.1, city center, HCMC
Binh Tay market - Dist.5, one of the main markets of Cholon
Diamond Plaza - 37 Le Duan, Dist.1, HCMC
Anh Thu – 48 Le Lai Str., Dist.1, HCMC
Saigon – 2 Nguyen Trai Str., Dist.1, HCMC
Oriental Home - 2A Le Duan, Dist.1, HCMC
Trends - 23 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Bao Nghi - 127 Dong Khoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Cam Tu - 10-12 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Dist.3, HCMC
Emotion - 89 Dong Khoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Silk Road - 98 Mac Thi Buoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Toan Thinh Silk - 12-14 Pham Phu Thu, Tan Binh Dist., HCMC
Khai Silk - 107 Dong Khoi, Dist.1, HCMC
Crafts & Souvenirs
Cocochine Saigon - 95 Nguyen Hue, Dist.1, HCMC
Handicraft - Shop 115, Me Linh Point Shopping Center, HCMC
Indochine House - 27 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Ju Ju shops - 58 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Unique Viet Art objects - 11 Lam Son Square, Dist.1, HCMC
Pottery & Ceramics
Celadon Green - 29 Dong Du, Dist.1, HCMC
Q Home - 65 Le Loi, Dist.1, HCMC
Van Hien Pottery Shop - 91A Pasteur, Dist.1, HCMC
Citimart - 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Dist.1, HCMC
Co-op Mart - 189C Cong Quynh, Dist.1; or 168 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Dist.3, HCMC