By Muhammad Hasif Mohd Jelani on January 3, 2020
For one who has not yet experienced Vietnam, getting the chance to do so is definitely not to be missed. According to my friends who have been there, Vietnam has so much to offer that stimulates one’s senses and enriches travellers’ wanderlust.
In conjunction with the 15th International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City, a media familiarisation trip with the theme ‘#HelloWorld Việt Na m ơi’ – which I participated – was organised to bring international media to the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City and charming Hue. The following are several attractions that my travelling companions and I experienced, which comes recommended…
Recognised as Mekong’s largest travel event, the 2019 edition took place from 5 until 7 September at Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre (SECC). The annual travel expo is a place where international and regional buyers, suppliers, trade professionals and media meet to share and discuss about the latest and new tourism industry development besides opening up opportunities and strengthening ties among industry players. It is also the only national tourism event endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, Vietnam and People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City.
With the theme ‘The Tourism Gateway to Asia’, the event attracted 350 participating companies and brands originating from 62 countries and regions, 300 international and local buyers, including 40 international media.
For more information about this event, browse www.itehcmc.com.
Housed within Southeast Asia’s tallest skyscraper, Landmark 81, this hotel boasts 223 well-appointed rooms with panoramic city view. The hotel starts from the 47th floor of the 461-metre building, making it the tallest hotel in Vietnam. With the concept of ‘Luxury Defined by Vietnam’, the hotel features facilities with spectacular opulence such as globally-recognised spa, bars and restaurants, observation deck and outdoor swimming pool.
This iconic building painted in bright yellow that stands next to the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon was constructed between 1886 and 1891. It remains as one of the city’s most emblematic architectural gems that precisely depicts the French architectural influence. Travellers can still get a glimpse of how the post office looks like during its heyday especially through its vibrant imported tiles, intricately-designed dome ceilings, antique phone booths and more. To note, it still functions as a post office to this day.
The long history of Vietnam War that was once inflicted the people of Vietnam is the major centre of this museum. It largely portrays the horrendous aftermath of the war and how it affects the people of Vietnam to this day. From graphic images and texts, weapons and unexploded ordnances used by the US Army to the grisly representation of prison with a full-scale guillotine brought in by the French and tactual military vehicles, there are so much visitors can learn from this museum. Fair warning, though: the museum might come as disturbing to some and travellers are not recommended to bring children along.
Sơn mài or lacquer painting is a traditional Vietnamese painting that infuses local and French techniques. At this workshop, travellers can observe how the artists painstakingly make lacquerware using paint, egg shells and sea shells. It also has its own gallery where travellers can take a closer look of the end products and buy them if they are interested.
Soul Ben Thanh is one of the famous restaurants in close proximity to the well-known Ben Thanh Market. Located within a heritage building, travellers can take in the view of the area while savouring Vietnamese cuisines with a twist such as seafood spring rolls and lotus salad with shrimp, offering diners an unforgettable culinary experience.
This restaurant is inspired from the colours of wood and bronze. Living up to its name, which means ‘Memories’, the restaurant also exhibits some of its owner’s vintage collections such as cars, motorbikes and clocks, bringing its guests the fond, nostalgic memories of the bygone era. Foodwise, it offers a combination of Asian and European dishes. Since my travelling companions and I were there for afternoon tea, while taking selfies at this cool place, we also savoured refreshing juices, Vietnamese coffee and snacks.
This is a lounge and dining cruise that takes travellers along the romantic Saigon River for around three hours. More than simply taking in the splendid view of the city, travellers are brought along an inspiring culinary journey comprising both Asian and Western traditional cuisines such as steamed seabass roll in nori seaweed with clam, couscous with capsicum sauce, and Vietnamese seafood spring rolls. With a capacity for 120 to 160 diners, the cruise begins its daily journey from Bason Cruise Terminal.
|Good to know: For Muslim travellers, there are several halal restaurants around Ho Chi Minh City too such as D’Serai Classic Restaurant, Saigon Green House, Zeytun Restaurant, and D’Nyonya Penang, among others.|
Located about 40 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, lies a wetland that is recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Zone. The mangrove forest, known as the ‘green lung and kidney of Ho Chi Minh City’, sits on the vast delta of three rivers: Đồng Nai, Vàm Cỏ Đông and Saigon. Among the activities travellers can do here are watching the giant bats, visiting a crocodile swamp and enjoying the 360-degree view of the forest from a birdwatching tower.
This one-of-a-kind war museum is widely known for its 250 kilometres of manually-dug underground tunnels that played a critical role to the Viet Cong during Vietnam War. The tunnels – all connected to each other and they served as living areas, storage chambers, hospitals, and kitchens, among others – were used as the base of Viet Cong’s operations. Travellers are bound to be amazed at how these narrow tunnels were constructed and efficiently worked, notably for its cleverly-made ventilation system that helped the Viet Cong to survive, sometimes for days without going to the surface. Activities that travellers can do include crawling inside the expanded, safer parts of the tunnels, as well as trying their hands on the real M16 riffle.
For Củ Chi Tunnels and Can Gio Mangrove Forest experience, book your tour through Les Rives Authentic River Experience. Browse www.lesrivesexperience.com for more information.
This tomb is a hill-side tomb that was once belonged to the 12th Emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty, Khải Định. Believed to be built from 1920 to 1931, the tomb depicts a majestic blend of Buddhism, Hindu, Roman and Gothic design elements, making it a very awe-inspiring cultural gem in Vietnam.
Khải Định, however, was unpopular among his people because of his close association with the French. Besides, the emperor raised taxes by 30 percent too to pay for the construction of the tomb prior to his death in 1925.
Emperor Tự Đức was the fourth emperor of Nguyen Dynasty who ruled the kingdom from 1848 to 1883, the longest to reign among the 13 emperors. His tomb is located about eight kilometres from Hue City and was built between 1864 and 1867, long before his death. The completion took a toll on his subjects as they had to pay extra tax to finance it, while some were forced to work unpaid. Interestingly, the corpse of the king was nowhere in his own tomb because it was said that the king was buried in an unknown, different location.
This vast royal complex and fortress that was once walled has been in existence since 140 years ago, surrounded by ancient moats where water was sourced from Huong River, famously known as Perfume River. The main highlight of the complex is the nine-hectare ‘Forbidden Purple City’ that was once can only be accessed by imperial dignitaries. The city was severely damaged during the wars in 1947 and 1968, but now gradually restored and conserved. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
Legend says that there was this one old lady who prophesied about a pagoda on a hill that will be built by a king so he can pray for the country’s prosperity. Upon finding out about the legend, the first Nguyen lords who governed Hue at that time ordered the pagoda to be built in 1601, hence earning the seven-tiered pagoda the moniker ‘Pagoda of the Celestial Lady’.
Recently bestowed as Wanderlust Tips Magazine’s 2019 Leading Luxury Resort, Banyan Tree Lăng Cô distinguished itself for its luxurious all-pool villas located between the East Vietnam Sea and Truong Son mountain range. Each villa comes with sun deck and generous living spaces. The resort encapsulates the inspiration from the Vietnamese dynasties past, also has myriads of state-of-the-art facilities from 18-hole golf-course, well-equipped gymnasium, spa and water sports centre to efficient meeting rooms, making it an ideal luxurious bolthole for both leisure and business guests.
This beach-front resort is nestled within the area of Laguna Lăng Cô. It boasts 222 stylish suites, with over 100 of them come with private pool. Perfect for a family staycation, this property offers the perks of a full-fledged resort that include kids club, spa, sports centre, golf club, gymnasium and even meeting rooms for business travellers. But the main highlight is the 300-metre swimming pool that surrounds the entire resort. Angsana Lăng Cô is also earned the title as Wanderlust Tips Magazine’s 2019 Leading MICE Resort.
Gaya Travel Magazine team members extend our heartfelt gratitude to Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Promotion Center (Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City) and Wanderlust Tips Magazine for making the writer’s trip to Vietnam possible.
This article is featured in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 14.4. Read other contents HERE.