Getaway Ho Chi Minh (Saigón)Access
I recommend taking some type of transportation to go to the War Museum, because it is a bit remote.
Ho Chi Minh / Saigon (Vietnam)
I know it's ugly to compare; but I also know that, sometimes, it's hard not to do it. In this case, it is inevitable to compare Ho Chi Minh with Hanoi. They are the two greatest cities of Vietnam. One is located in the south and the other in the north. The first one has the tourist reclamation of the Mekong Delta and the second one has the amazing Halong Bay close by.
We all have limited vacations and this forces us to be constantly choosing and / or giving up destinations. After seeing Vietnam from the top down, it does not cost me to position myself clearly in favor of the north. That is, if there is time to see everything, go ahead! But if you need to trim visits by budget or time, do not hesitate to choose the couple Hanoi and Halong Bay. In addition, the fascinating Sapa will always be closer to you.
Ho Chi Minh can be seen fast. There are three things you can not skip: the Cholon neighborhood with its Binh Tay market, the Thien Hau pagoda and the mythical Vietnam war museum (which they suffered against the USA).
The Cholon neighborhood (in Vietnamese means "Great Market") is the largest Chinese district in Vietnam. It occupies district 5 and dates from 1778; In fact, it is a place of great historical importance. Here the Chinese minorities of the Tay Son dynasty were hidden. Those who managed to survive resettled by selling Chinese products. During the war, the soldiers and deserters of the US Armed Forces established the black market. It was also in this neighborhood where photojournalist Eddie Adams took the picture that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 showing an execution. One of the places with more life in the neighborhood is the Binh Tay market. Enter without fear and walk quickly. Try to be very attentive to everything that happens here. I, in a couple of hours, saw dried algae, products that I was not able to identify, worms for sale, thousand-way rice bread, children in charge of the stores and, most surprised me, 40% of traders sleeping on top of the products they have for sale. Fascinating. Visit also around the market outside. The bustle is awesome.
The Thien Hau pagoda is a clear example of the Chinese influence on construction; and, in fact, it is not the only building of these characteristics. There are many. It is dedicated to the Chinese goddess of the sea and protective of the navigators. It is very popular with the faithful. Incense bars are always on and the smell can become strong. I did not find any tourist, which makes it even more authentic. Here, as in the Hoian temples, they also offer food to the gods. They say it's the nicest pagoda of Ho Chi Minh. Although you have two guardians on each side of the entrance, it is said that the true vigilantes are two turtles living inside the enclosure.
The Vietnam War Museum (War Remnants Museum) need a mention apart. It is the most visited museum by western tourists. I was really impressed and I thought that I was not the only one. I was in shock during the visit. The silence inside makes a lot of respect. What impressed me the most are the photos shown. It is clear that harsh images can not convey what was lived there, but I assure you that they make you feel so sad. Outside there are exposed armored vehicles and planes that also impress.
It is a city that is constantly moving. The high volume of motorcycles in circulation are almost equal to Hanoi. You have to be very careful when you walk; They do not stop, they just touch the horn. There are endless small shops and people who travel at a rapid pace; but there is always some quiet corner hidden. I found them.
One day is enough to see the three main points of the city.