Exploring the temples
We headed of to the first destination, one of the many temples In Ho chi Minh city. This particular one is a Chinese Influenced temple. As we walked around, Quan explained to me about the Incense coils and how people make a small donation to get their own coil hung up in the temple. They attach a small red ribbon at the very top of the coil, with their personalized prayers on them. So when the Incense eventually burns at the top, the ribbon burns and their prayers will be sent. The coils can take over a month to completely burn out. Walking around temples can be a really relaxing experience, if you not in an overly touristy temple, or you visit early. It’s also Interesting to watch people as they go through their routines in the temple, a great cultural experience.
The lives of the boat people
Quan then took me down by the river side, for me to see the daily life of the people that work here. He explained to me that the people here are poor, so they have to live and work on their boats. You can see them working at the front of their boats, preparing the various fruits and vegetables to sell at the side of the road and in the background you can see the home life. Before we left Quan, helped me buy some fresh coconut water, which was delicious, much better than the canned stuff, you can buy back home.
Ho Chi Minh city Square
Then we headed to see the famous Ho chi Minh city statue, probably one of the most famous landmarks in Vietnam and a very Important one for Vietnamese people. Ho Chi Minh the father figure of the country, who led the country into it’s freedom and Independence. The statue is a fairly new addition to the city, built in 2015, replacing a previous statue of Ho Chi Minh sitting next to a girl, which was Installed to celebrate his 100th birthday. The colonial building behind built between 1902-1908, named Ho Chi Minh city hall. it is not open to the public, but makes for great photographs for people visiting. After getting a few pictures and taking in the beauty of the building, we headed off to see some of the other beautiful buildings here.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Making a quick stop in front of the Impressive Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, officially Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception. “Established by French colonists who initially named it Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saïgon, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters (190 feet)”
This place is always flowing with people wanting to capture this beautiful building and of course getting that all Important selfie in front of it. A truly beautiful piece of architecture and when you stand in front of it, you forget you are In Vietnam for a min. One of many French colonial buildings around the city, left as a reminder of the once French colonialism.
Saigon Opera House
The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon Opera House, which is another example of French architecture in the city. Built in 1897, the 800 seat building was used as the home of the Lower House assembly of South Vietnam after 1956. It was not until 1975 that it was again used as a theatre, and restored in 1995.
My tour guide Mr Quan
Just a small taste of what is on offer to see In Ho Chi Minh city. Getting a motor guide is a great way to tour the city, or if you feel over whelmed by getting around here. Quan was excellent at showing me interesting places and telling me some of the history and the culture here. He is also took me for some pho at a local place, which was delicious.
You can of course make your own away round the city. District 1 has a good few of the must see places like Ho Chi Minh square, Notre Dam etc. Other places in district 2 and 3, some of them are quite walkable, others you may need transport to get to. If you manage to get a Vietnamese sim card while you are here, I highly recommend downloading the grab car app, and using them as a taxi. You will get a flat rate , which is usually very reasonable and you won’t have the worry of a meter.
Take your time to enjoy the architecture here, try and walk around when you can, to take in the different things going on, the culture and the daily lives of the people. Also try the local street food if you can, or local Vietnamese restaurants. The food is a real highlight here and the more local it is the better it will be and don’t be afraid to try something completely different
One last tip, when you cross crazy roads here, remember, cross slowly, in a straight line and keep walking, the bikes and cars will usually go around you. It looks pretty daunting at first, but it’s not so bad once you get used to doing it.