It doesn’t matter what name you choose to call it, Ho Chi Minh is a BIG city!
It covers an area of over 2,000sq. kms, and is made up of about 24 districts, with District 1 and District 3 being the most popular for tourists. These two areas have the most sights, museums, eateries, bars, etc.
I loved Saigon (I choose to call it by its former name, don’t ask why, I just do)! It somehow felt like an “Asian London” if that makes any sense! The size, the new with the old, the way it welcomes visitors and makes you feel at home. Although it is an extremely busy metropolis I felt totally comfortable wandering the streets from one tourist site to another. Of course, crossing the road was a feat in itself! Luckily there are no drunken westerners on motorbikes to contend with like in Bali, just locals who have the dodging and weaving down to a fine art!
Saigon has many beautiful buildings, one being the Reunification Palace which is open to the public and well worth a couple of hours of your time. For those of us old enough to remember, it is where the tank broke through the gates and thus signalled the end of the war in 1976. The Palace has been kept really well and down in the basement you can see the “war rooms” as it was back during the war. It’s a must for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War.
We found Saigon very easy to navigate and really enjoyed wandering around each day. The people are far less “reserved” than those in the northern city of Hanoi. Our favourite place of course had to be where the street food was in District 1, Ben Thanh Market.
We ate there every day, no matter what the time, it was a place to sit and chill with great food and cold beer. Can’t wait to go back in November and take my friend!
There are so many stalls serving different types of food, not all Vietnamese but Indian, Korean, French and I wish I could stay there long enough to try them all!
The markets are all undercover and next to the food is the retail market. If you can’t find what you’re looking to buy here, it doesn’t exist! There are clothes, shoes, bags, luggage, kitchen ware, watches, jewellery, gadgets just about anything you can think of. Haggling with the sellers is huge fun, they expect it and if you do it well there are bargains to be had! Just have a figure in mind and stick to it. Be prepared to walk away if they won’t agree – they’ll eventually give in!