Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city in Vietnam. In terms of culture, cuisine, Ho Chi Minh city ( or Saigon) is not as good as Hanoi. But being the most advanced city in Vietnam makes Ho Chi Minh city a great place for tourists who just want a vacation with good hotels, fun activities, lots of public transportation to get around the city. All in all, a great destination in Vietnam and it is always recommended to visit this city when in Vietnam.
1 Cheap eats
Ho Chi Minh City (also still called Saigon) is famous for its pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) and pork rolls. Often the best places are shops and stalls named after family members, such as “Aunty” or “Chi” (meaning sister) followed by a number representing their order in the family and, finally, their name. Though many chains, such as Pho24 and Pho 2000, do big business these days, you can’t beat family-run outfits for the real deal.
2 Late-night pedicure/spa
Manicure and pedicure shops are everywhere, particularly around the Pham Ngu Lao area, and most are open late into the night. Happily, some will even serve you a glass of wine or offer a massage, and a basic treatment will probably cost you less than half what it would back home (expect to pay about $6 for a set)
3 Scooter tours
Exploring the streets from the back seat of a Vespa is an exhilarating way to get a feel for a city with nearly 5 million motorbikes. To get your orientation fast, jump on an organised tour with an emphasis on food, nightlife, iconic sights or unusual attractions; a guide can help you discover the hot spots. Note that motorbike helmets are compulsory in Vietnam.
4 War Remnants Museum
Not for the squeamish, the War Remnants Museum documents the brutality of the Vietnam War and, although it has received criticism for its alleged propagandist tone, it remains one of the most visited museums in the country, attracting more than half a million visitors a year. Retired military vehicles such as “Huey” helicopters, attack bombers and even an M48 Patton tank dominate the front yard while, inside, a harrowing selection of text and photographic exhibits tell the story. (Open 7.30am-noon and 1.30-5pm.)
5 Bonsai River Cruise
Though it’s true the Saigon River has serious pollution issues, a Bonsai dinner cruise is still a unique experience. Watch the city lights at sunset while sipping a Tom Collins from the deck of a traditional 19th-century dragon boat, take in a show and enjoy a buffet meal in style
6 Fresh beer
Found on most street corners and in ramshackle bars, fresh beer, or “bia hoi”, is Vietnam’s answer to microbrewing. First introduced by the Czechs, it’s free of preservatives and therefore best gulped down immediately. The standard is seriously variable, but it certainly won’t hurt your wallet (expect to pay about 35¢ to 40¢ a glass), so trial and error is part of the fun. Look out for the ubiquitous hand-scrawled Bia Hoi signs.
To be continued…
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