Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Travel Guide & Activities: Nine Must-Haves




Saigon, or officially Ho Chi Minh City, is divided into a series of districts of which District One is the main hotel, restaurant and retail area where visitors inevitably congregate. But to experience a literally different side of the city, cross the Saigon River to District Two, similar to Seminyak, the city’s hippest new neighborhood full of trendy restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.


Think of the Sadec neighborhood as “Home Chi Minh”, a lifestyle store selling affordable, artisan-quality ceramics, textiles, lighting, bags and more. All of its genuine wares are sourced not only from Vietnam but from the “Mekong sub-region”, which includes countries like Cambodia and Laos. You will find branches of this fine retailer in both districts one and two. See sadecdistrict.com


Vietnam is a major producer of coffee, and it’s no surprise that Vietnamese people enjoy their coffee. You can also, in a lot of style, in a branch of District One of L’Usine. Take your pick from L’Usine cafe above a covered alley on bustling Le Loi or another in an elegant art deco space on Le Thanh Ton Street. Each café has a boutique for fashion, accessories, housewares and books. See lusinespace.com


La Raffinerie, opposite the Park Hyatt in District One, borrows its seemingly innocuous name from “La Manufacture d’Opium”, a former opium factory in which it operates. Built in 1881 by French colonialists seeking to exploit the illicit trade, today much of the original signage can still be seen on what remains of the 19th century entrance with alcohol as the drug of choice in inside the atmospheric old world bar. See therefinerysaigon.com


While there are plenty of restaurants to tempt visitors to the First District, The Deck, an elegant riverside restaurant in District Two frequented by expats and tourists alike, is hard to beat for both its tranquil location. and its excellent cuisine. Opt for pan-Asian delicacies from its menu as you sit back and watch the world (along with the odd bouquet of water hyacinths) drift away in an almost semi-rural setting. See thedecksaigon.com


The once neglected Saigon River is experiencing a revival with an emerging and artful public ferry service designed for locals and perfect for sightseeing visitors. The ferry offers a great inexpensive way to see Saigon from a whole different perspective, as well as a great way to witness its phenomenal growth, mostly upwards. See saigonwaterbus.vn


If the new ferry ride inspires more in-depth exploration of the river, take a sunset speedboat tour with Les Rives. The waterway tour includes a visit to the 18th century Mieu Noi floating temple in the middle of the river, as well as glimpses of life along the river, such as a wholesale market where coconuts are delivered by many old creaking barges straight from the Mekong Delta. See lesrivesexperience.com


While you might be staying at one of the newest and grandest five-star hotels, it’s worth paying homage to the Caravelle, a holdover from the Vietnam War era, right in the middle of the first district. At dusk, head to the rooftop Saigon Saigon Bar – a haunt for wartime journalists in the 1960s – for sweeping views of the feverish avenues, still dominated by motorcycles, below. See caravellehotel.com


Visit Saigon Independence Palace not only to get a feel for the building’s role in the Vietnam War, but also because of its wonderfully retro exterior and interior. A mixture of traditional and modernist styles, even in its furniture, it is here that at 10:45 a.m. on April 30, 1975, the tank 843 of the North Vietnamese conquerors smashed down the door of the palace (even if it was not closed key). See dinhdoclap.gov.vn/en/


There are plenty of full or half-day tours designed to get you away from Saigon itself, but if you’re only here for a few days, consider devoting all your time to the city as it has a lot to offer. to offer to the visitor.

Anthony Dennis visited Saigon as a guest of Scenic on his 13-day all-inclusive Mekong River Treasures Cruise and land tour from Saigon to Siem Reap. Prices start from $ 7,695 per person. See scenic.com.au



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