Saigon surprised me!
The streets of Saigon, or formally known as Ho Chi Minh City, is a beautiful place to explore.
Accommodation is super easy to find as there are plenty of mini hotels on every street. Prices will range from 6$ for backpacker dorm rooms to 11$ hotel rooms. ATM’s can be found in all the touristy areas and will dispense local currency, Vietnamese Dong.
What surprised me most of Saigon wasn’t only the amazing food and coffee, but also the parks and the active locals! Every morning, locals gather in the parks to exercise. They attend dancing classes or do jogging before they start their working day. Everyone from young to old join in the fun. During the day, people will sit in the parks to eat their lunch, do some MORE exercise or just relax by reading a book.
We stayed in Saigon for about 3 days and explored the city by foot.
One place that really taught me a history lesson (or 10!) was the War Remnants museum. This is not for everyone as it has some very graphic displays and photographs depicting the absolute horror that happened during the war. The atmosphere inside the museum is eerie and it left me with a lump in my throat!
A snippet from my travel diary after visiting the museum:
“Today we visited the War Remnants Museum. It was intense. Pictures of people suffering and scared, explanations and demos of the torture methods used in the prison cells. You could hear the cries of the innocent people and children in the pictures hanging against the walls. My heart was breaking reading all the stories.The aftermath of this war, that lasted 17 years, is still being felt today. Thousands of people have died and many more have been wounded.
We need to learn from history and never make these mistakes again, as there can never be a winner in any war….only foolish men.”
After a visit to the museum, get some fresh air and take a walk to the Notre-Dame cathedral and post office. (If you don’t want to walk, you can easily take a taxi or hop on a city tour.)
The Nortre- Dame cathedral is a beautiful French building. You don’t have to spend hours here, but it is still worth a stop for a few minutes. Across from the cathedral is the post office. Another amazing bright yellow building! It is the largest post office in Vietnam built by Gustave Eiffel. Make a quick stop here to send some postcards to family and friends while you admire the beautiful architecture!
If you enjoy shopping, you can walk around in Saigon and explore all the little hidden shops or visit the Ben Thanh market. If you are into music, Saigon has some amazing little music shops that sell instruments for really affordable prices. (We picked up a Ukulele for $50).
Amazing things happen when you start exploring! On the Sunday night, we hit the streets and came across a free music concert! It was such a cool vibe! I have never heard a hard-rock, metal-blasting Katy Perry song before! The locals are more than willing to help you with directions as long as you treat them with kindness and respect! A smile goes a looooooong way!