Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
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Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is located in the south of Vietnam, on the banks of the Saigon River.
Ho Chi Minh still exhibits a strong French influence from its colonial past when it was referred to as "The Pearl of the Far East". When you travel to Ho Chi Minh today, you will find a unique culture that is a seamless blend of the past and present.
Ho Chi Minh's Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre is one of the most renowned water puppetry theatres in Vietnam. Visit the Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre for a show unique to Vietnam, where puppets use the water as a stage and traditional Vietnamese music tells the story.
The Tet Festival is held during the 12th month of the Buddhist calendar and celebrates the end of the lunar year and the beginning of spring. Although the festival is celebrated throughout Vietnam, the festivities are at their best in Ho Chi Minh City. Many families pray and observe religious rituals, however for travellers, there are copious amounts of food to be eaten and firecrackers to be enjoyed.
Buddha's Birthday Festival
Half of the Vietnamese population is Buddhist, and as such the celebration of Buddha's birthday is big event. Buddha's Birthday Festival falls on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month and is celebrated with colourful processions of Buddhist monks, incense and decorating temples.
What to Do
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi tunnel system lying under Ho Chi Minh were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Now, sections of the Cu Chi tunnels are preserved as a war memorial and are open to the public. Visitors can even crawl through safe sections of the Cu Chi tunnels and get a glimpse of how the Viet Cong lived.
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is one of Ho Chi Minh's biggest tourist attractions. It exhibits articles from the Vietnam War and is not for the faint of heart. As well as American military equipment, there are graphic photographs depicting the atrocities from the Vietnam War.
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
The Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica is a prime example of Vietnam's French colonial past. The Catholic basilica boasts a neo-Romanesque architecture and all the building materials were imported from France. The Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica has two bell towers that dominate Ho Chi Minh's skyline, so you won't be able to miss it!
Reunification Palace is a symbolic site in Ho Chi Minh for its role in the fall of Saigon to communist forces during the Vietnam War. The Reunification Palace built in 1966 has not changed much since, and a tour of the various rooms and offices is a unique glimpse into the past.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a crowded, open air market where stalls sell everything from fake designer clothing, souvenirs, meat and flowers. Around the markets are a number of restaurants that open as the markets close, a perfect pit stop for authentic Vietnamese cuisine. However, be aware of the pickpockets present at the crowded Ben Thanh Markets and keep a close eye on personal belongings.
Cholon - Ho Chi Minh's Chinatown
It is said that Cholon is the largest Chinatown in the world. Cholon is like a separate city from Ho Chi Minh City where even street signs are in Chinese. In Cholon, you will find Binh Tay Market, numerous temples, Chinese restaurants, medicine and jade shops.