Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, is often described as a vibrant, dynamic, highly energetic city that has everything a city traveller could hope for – from timeless temples to towering skyscrapers, classy restaurants to unassuming street stalls, the finest hotels to the cheapest guesthouses.
With Vietjet’s daily direct flights from Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) to Ho Chi Minh City, there are even more reasons why Vietnam should be the destination of choice for your upcoming holiday!
That’s not all! In continuation of Vietjet’s biggest promotional campaign – “Fly for love – Show your summer version”, the new-age carrier is now offering super-saving tickets priced from RM0 for three golden days starting from 19 to 21 June 2019 at www.vietjetair.com , making it all the more affordable for you to explore Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
Not convinced? Here are some reasons why this effervescent city should absolutely be on your travel bucket list:
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the business hub of Vietnam, host to many multinational companies and home to eight million souls. If we are asked to describe Ho Chi Minh City, several words immediately come to mind: fast-paced, ambitious, vibrant, industrious and upcoming and arguably free-wheeling.
Tip: It is best for all travellers to check on the current weather in Vietnam before arriving.
Upon entering the heart of the city, one of the most exciting things that is quintessentially Ho Chi Minh City is the rush of the mob of motorbikes dominating the roads, so much so that they tend to take precedence over larger vehicles. Though a tad intimidating for tourists when navigating through the maze of motorbikes, this is one unique thing about the city that is truly a sight to behold!
Tip: Travellers may want to take note that Ho Chi Minh City’s traffic congestion peaks during the morning (7.00am – 8.00am) and evening (5.00pm – 6.00pm) rush hours.
Those visiting the city for the first time should consider staying in District 1, especially around the Opera House leading towards Saigon River. Here, travellers can find some of the city’s best attractions including trendy restaurants and cafes. Make your way to the iconic Ben Thanh Market – the city’s biggest market where you’ll find a smorgasbord of goods at bargain prices.
If you’re travelling by foot from the Opera House, be sure to pay a brief visit to the monumental stone statue of Ho Chi Minh located just outside the People’s Committee building for a round of selfies. If you are unable to find your bearings and require directions, fear not! Just head to the nearby Tourist Information Centre (http://visithochiminhcity.vn/) on 188 Phạm Ngũ Lão Street and you’ll be good to go!
Shops selling crafts, tailored goods, and even galleries are abundant in District 1. A jaunt down Le Loi Street heading towards Ben Thanh Market would offer travellers the opportunity to admire and purchase various goods on sale. A stroll along these streets, will also demonstrate why Vietnam is renowned for its textiles, souvenirs, tailoring and paintings.
When it comes to satiating your hunger pangs, District 1 has got you covered with intoxicating aromas from local and international dishes spilling from street carts, open homes and restaurants waiting to be explored. Muslim travellers need not worry because there are also a number of halal restaurants that exist in the city.
Besides Ho Chi Minh City, Gaya Travel also recommends for travellers to venture out of the city to expand your horizons and see what lies beyond the hustle and bustle of the city. Three attractions that constantly appear on the travellers ‘must-visit’ itinerary are Cao Dai Temple, Cu Chi Tunnel and Mekong Delta, all of which takes more than two hours to reach by car.
Tip: Allocate sufficient time for travelling in order to make the most of your day! Getting to these places also requires vehicles to endure rough and undeveloped roads.
For those who prefer being in the heart of a city that is vibrant and upbeat, Ho Chi Minh City definitely fits the bill. Here’s our comprehensive guide of what to see, do and experience:
What to experience in Ho Chi Minh City:
Shop at Ben Thanh Market
Considered as one of the major landmarks of Ho Chi Minh City, the place offers countless shops selling rows after rows of souvenirs, clothing, home accessories, crafts and a myriad of other things, including local titbits and Vietnamese ground coffee. It has four entry points where travellers can access: East, West, North and South. We observed that Ben Thanh is well-organised and sports wider walkways compared to other markets like Cho Lon and An Dong, thus providing better shopping comfort. But if there are moments when travellers need to squeeze through, be prepared to be pushed and shoved by the locals upon encounter.
Constructed and opened during the time of French colonisation, the structure that houses this market is blessed with high ceiling, providing natural air ventilation to moderate the temperature within. The market is only about 15 minutes’ walk from the Opera House – all the more reason for travellers to opt for any of the hotels located close to this landmark.
Savour ice cream at Bach Dang Ice Cream parlour while watching the traffic
Watching the traffic is now part of the lifestyle in this city. Since the ice cream parlour is located strategically at one of the main junctions along Le Loi Street, facing Saigon Centre (the tallest building in the city), the chairs within this joint mostly face the street to facilitate traffic-watching by the patrons, especially during the weekday’s evening rush hour. Witnessing the motorbike-dominated traffic and the ways these road-users negotiate and squeeze their way from any corner makes for an amazing scenery that could only be found in Vietnam.
Browse through the exhibits at The Museum of Vietnamese History (http://baotanglichsu.vn/en)
Housing various ancient artefacts and vestiges of past civilisations, travellers to Ho Chi Minh City will definitely be able to learn about Vietnam’s past (all the way to the pre-historic times) through the museum’s exhibits. History and archaeology enthusiasts may be engrossed with the display of relics from ancient civilisations that rose within the current borders of the country such as Oc Eo, a kingdom that traded with many neighbouring nations during its time, including the Greco-Romans. The museum is open from Tuesdays through Sundays beginning at 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission fee is VND15,000 per person.
Admire the Reunification Palace (https://www.dinhdoclap.gov.vn/en/)
First built by the French for the Resident of Indochina on a 20-hectare land, this historical landmark was rebuilt by the Americans in 1966 as the Palace for the President of the now defunct Government of South Vietnam. The original French-built structure was bombed back in 1962. The rebuilt palace is now open to the public and occasionally used as venue for meetings by visiting dignitaries. The name of the palace is changed into Reunification Palace in 1975 to commemorate the joining of both North and South Vietnam.
The architectural style of the palace is signified by the combination of Chinese characters denoting “good future”, “education and freedom”, “humanity”, “wisdom”, “boldness” and “sovereignty”; together forming one whole auspicious character that means “prosperity”.
The President’s palace was also constructed according to geomancy principles. What struck us the most was that the whole building is remarkably well-maintained and stays true to its 1960s mod style interiors that are accentuated with Southern Vietnamese motifs, including the ubiquitous Chinese character signifying longevity. This remarkable building also possesses bunkers and escape tunnels at the basement for the use of the past president, which is linked to the Saigon River, located 1 km away. To learn about the origins of the building, travellers may visit the small museum, which pictorially narrates the sequence of events beginning from the withdrawal of the French up to the period of Vietnam’s North and South Reunification in 1975. Admission fee is VND15,000 per person. The Reunification Palace is open from 7:30 a.m. till 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. till 4:00 p.m. daily.
Take in the glory of French colonial architecture
French Colonial architecture lovers would surely appreciate the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, which the French built in 1845 in true gothic style. Though Gaya Travel team has never been to Paris, we suspect that the architecture of the cathedral strikes parallel to the original one with its cavernous interior and soaring vaulted ceiling.
Next to the cathedral is the iconic Ho Chi Minh City Post Office, which alludes to the French dramatic style. We admire the vibrant imported tiles used in the interior of the post office.
Contemplate on the horrors of war at the War Remnants Museum (http://www.baotangchungtichchientranh.vn/Main.aspx?L=EN)
Inside the War Remnants Museum, travellers will be able to witness weapons used by the US Army during the Vietnam War, including a full scale guillotine brought in by the French as punishment to deter insurgence among the subjugated public.
There are also pictorials that recorded the horrors of war, mostly documenting the atrocities that the US Army inflicted on the Vietnamese, especially when torturing the suspects.
Though the museum is not as morbid as the Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh, travellers may still find that some exhibits and pictorials disturbing. Admission fee to the museum is VND40,000 per person. The museum is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Learn how Vietnam won the war at the Cu Chi Tunnels (http://en.diadaocuchi.com.vn/)
To understand how the people of Cu Chi (pronounced as ‘Koo Chee’, located around 40 kilometres away from Ho Chi Minh City) and the local army survived the constant barrage of bombings by the Americans during the Vietnam war, travellers should visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, which is a whole series of manually dug underground tunnels covering the total distance of 250 km, complete with living and storage chambers serving as the army’s operational base during daytime, including ventilation systems that allow fresh air to circulate within, cleverly disguised as termite mounds. There are also exhibits showing various traps that Viet Cong employed when fighting against the American soldiers, including other guerrilla tactics and ammunitions.
Travellers who are interested in honing their shooting skills can practice them out at the shooting range located within the grounds, starting at the rate of VND20,000 per bullet. Travellers can also witness the production of rice papers and rice wine during the days of the war, some of them readily packaged as merchandise. The tour culminates with the serving of tea and steamed tapioca, the staple diet for the Vietnamese army during the war. Gaya Travel recommends this tour for its highly educational and eye-opening experience.
And there you have it, our comprehensive guide of Ho Chi Minh City. Be sure to capitalise on this golden opportunity to snatch up Vietjet’s promotional tickets which will be for grabs during the golden hours between 1pm – 3pm starting from 19 – 21 June 2019. On top of this, Vietjet is also organising a host of other exciting activities such as flash mob performances at selected airports and cosplaying where Vietjet passengers who are unafraid to dress up in their favourite cosplay costume while travelling on any Vietjet flight from 1 June 2019 to 31 July 2019 will be rewarded with exclusive gifts!
The promotional tickets are available for purchase via all sales channels including the airline’s website at www.vietjetair.com, also compatible with smartphones at https://m.vietjetair.com or https://www.facebook.com/VietjetMalaysia (just click the “Booking” tab).