Given that Ho Chi Minh City has a population of 8 million and there are an estimated 7 million motorcycles in the city, theres no better way to see the city then on the back of a motorbike! For our adventure, the lovely ladies of XO Tours showed my family the true locals of the city. We zoomed past the fresh fruit and vegetable market of Chinatown in District 6, K-Town and the glamorous buildings of District 8 and of course Saigon’s infamous and delicious street food all around the city! From noodles soups to BBQ and all kinds of seafood they gave us everything and we ate everything …. You can find a tour tailored to your needs but don’t miss out on this fabulous adventure!
Cu Chi Tunnels
As a post-Vietnam War baby my knowledge on the war was very limited but my parents enthusiastically recounted every detail they remembered seeing from their childhood throughout our trip. Therefore one highlight for us was seeingthe way in which the Viet Cong fighters defeated the well-equipped US and South Vietnamese soldiers. The immensely organised network of tunnels had catered for every possible need housing, transport, supplies, medical treatment, you name it! The guides at the tunnels took us through a mesmerising journey recounting the way soldiers had to “walk with no footsteps and speak without being heard” all while crawling through the vast underground network. It was truly mind boggling and definitely one of the most unforgettable parts of our trip.
Exploring the Old Town
One of the most charming parts of Ho Chi Minh City is its embrace of the old with the new. Along with tall skyscraper and glittering shopping you are faced with the remnants of a bygone era from the time of French colonialism in Vietnam. The Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office and Opera House are all constant reminders of Saigon of a different time. During the daytime, we walked around the cathedral and Post Office where many tourists were sending post cards and buying souvenirs. In the evening, we were fortunate enough to see a fabulous show at the Opera House called Lang Toi-My Village an acrobatic display that tells the story of the Vietnamese countryside. We found this to be a great way to see the monument and get a taste of the local performing arts scene.
Bitexco Tower Although our three-day packed itinerary meant that unfortunately we were unable to experience HCMC from a birds-eye perspective from talking with locals and tourists alike we found that this is a must-do for Saigon visitors. With an observation deck, restaurant, bar, cafe and Helipad(!) there are multiple ways to experience the tower that shapes the city’s skyline today.
Reunification Palace The last residence of the ruler of South Vietnam was once the famous site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. Today it remains a popular tourist destination dedicated to the South and its last resident Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. The Palace has grand but minimalist halls where the rulers would entertain their allies including multiple American presidents and ambassadors. A bittersweet trip back in time…