Ho Chi Minh City is a metropolis on the move, its chaotic streets thronged with traffic. But once you become accustomed to the hustle and bustle, you’ll love exploring this fascinating, diverse city. Everywhere you go you’ll encounter contrasts: ancient Chinese temples rubbing shoulders with glitzy malls and skyscrapers; high-end restaurants around the corner from street food stalls.
The city is renowned for its scattering of ornate French colonial buildings, such as the Saigon Opera House, modelled after the Petit Palais in Paris, and the redbrick Notre Dame Cathedral. It also has a thriving Chinese community – immigrants arrived in the city in the 17th century after the fall of Ming Dynasty and established Cho Lon (or Chinatown). Browse its traditional medicine shops or enjoy a dish of char sui soup noodles at one of the hawker restaurants.
Ho Chi Minh City is bursting at the seams with cultural offerings. At the History Museum, you can learn about the city’s fascinating past, while the Fine Arts Museum houses an amazing collection of ancient and modern art, including wartime propaganda. If you want to learn more about the scars inflicted on the country by the Vietnam War, then the War Remnants Museum is a must-visit.
After a couple of days in the city, you’ll be glad of quiet spots to escape the hustle and bustle. The French-established botanical gardens provide an oasis of calm with natural surroundings. Or head to the top of one of Ho Chi Minh City’s tallest skyscrapers – Bitexco Financial Tower is 856 feet high, offering spectacular panoramas. Another option is to take a cruise along the Mekong River – which bisects the city – and experience a completely different side to urban life.