Vietnam is a country filled with hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Most of Vietnam contains a plethora of extraordinary beauty: Untouched forests hiding local gems, picturesque beaches, scenic local villages which only come to life in the eyes of a camera. Ho Chi Minh City, or previously known as Saigon, is currently the largest city in Vietnam. A city filled with historical monuments amongst new-age buildings and attractions, Ho Chi Minh City is an alluring city jammed with secrets, waiting to be discovered by curious tourists.
What do you think of when you think of a ‘dream vacation’? Is it a vacation where you go visit historical locations or rather spend your time at scenic and memorable places? If you answered the former, then one of the places recommended to visit is the beautiful Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica; a tall 190 feet cathedral in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, established by French colonists and built between 1863 and 1880. Although there’s not a lot of historical news behind the cathedral, just simply going there and admiring the cathedral withstanding the test of time and change is more than enough.
Cu Chi Tunnels, tunnels famous for being in use during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong. The tunnels are deep and naturally, small for soldiers to move in and out without being detected. Visitors can enter these small, claustrophobic tunnels and re-live through the conditions experienced by the Viet Cong. Perhaps it’s not part of the ‘ideal’ dream vacation but at least, it gives you a sense of adventure, doesn’t it?
Now, if you’re itching to spend some money in a foreign country, Ben Thanh Market (and close to it, many local Ben Thanh market hotels)is the ideal place to go shopping for bargains and a handful of items. This destination is extremely popular with tourists who love to haggle for the best bargains available. So, what’s in the market? There’s the generic t-shirts, cosmetics, women’s wear, men’s clothing—that sort of items. Don’t be surprised to see live animals, ducks, for example on sale either.
The Bonsai River Cruise is a great way to relax and unwind after a hectic day of walking around the city and snapping countless photos. Regardless of what people say about the sanitation issues regarding the rivers, the cruise is a very a pleasant experience for couples to enjoy. Sit back, unwind and take in the beautiful view of Ho Chi Minh City on this traditional 19th century dragon boat. And of course, to lighten up the mood a bit, sip on wine and beer of your choosing while cruising down river.
Nothing defines Vietnam more so than sky-touching, multi-colored pagodas and temples in Ho Chi Minh or the surrounding cities. The Jade Emperor Pagoda is HCMC’s most prominent pagoda in the city with its empowering smells of incense, its delicate statues and artworks spanning across the rooms and spilling into the courtyard. Of course, if you aren’t a big fan of smoke and incense, this isn’t the best place for you to travel as it may take your breath away… literally.
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Beatrice E. Sander, a teacher who loves writing, traveling and trying out different types of food.