Did you know that Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a similar area and populations with Bangkok? Did you also know that flying to Ho Chi Minh City is closer to Hat Yai? If you want to know how closer it is, just click
I got a chance to visit Ho Chi Minh city again after last visit of a one day simple stop over from Danang and only got to travel outside the city (Guchi Tunnel) before flying back to Thailand. This time, I meant to spend the quality time here with 2 days 2 nights time before going to enjoy the desert at Mui Ne (please stay tuned for the upcoming review). And for this 2 days trip, I get a sightseeing guidebook of 8 stops and 4 deliciousness in Ho Chi Minh City with the major focus on District 1 which is considered the main economic area of downtown Ho Chi Minh. So here, I come up with a small guidebook for future reference to anyone. If you are ready, let me start with.....
The flight schedule, I travel with Nokair who have just recently opened the route to Ho Chi Minh. Below is the latest flight schedule from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh:
And all my stops are marked in below map:
Coordinates of the places from above map
- Notre Dame Cathedral 10.779745, 106.699024
- Saigon Central Post Office 10.779661, 106.699799
- Ho Chi Minh City Hall 10.776500, 106.700957
- Saigon Opera House 10.776658, 106.703239
- Ho Chi Ming Museum 10.768262, 106.706770
- Ho Chi Minh City Museum 10.775990, 106.699646
- Ben Thanh Market 10.772393, 106.697975
- The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater 10.776435, 106.692605
- Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant 10.777379, 106.699680
- Quan Bui Restaurant 10.781430, 106.705876
- An Restaurant 10.774392, 106.704187
- The Refinery Restaurant 10.777984, 106.703859
And 2 Coffee Shops
And Other Point of Interests
- Bitexco Financial Tower 10.771806, 106.704414
I fly with the morning flight, DD3210. I check in at the airport at 5.30 a.m. and take off at about 7.20 a.m. and land at the Saigon International around 9 a.m. By 10 a.m., I'm already out to the airport and ready to go explore the city.
Let's start with our first stop. After we land and go through the immigration office, now we are heading towards the city and start our journey. Only 7.5 kilometers and now we are in town.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is considered to be the most important landmark of Ho Chi Minh City. It is the oldest and largest Catholic church in Vietnam. It was built during the French colonial. It is a replica of Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris with hundreds years of history. It was taken care by pastor who can also eventually become a pope. 'Bud Sarika' means the building in the Roman which means the gathering place and later referring to a place of pilgrimage. It spent 6 years to complete and every brick was direclty shipping from Marseille City of France. If you have never come here, this is a must. It is a very beautiful church.
On the ceiling, you will see the 1880 which is the year the church started to build.
Saigon Central Post Office
It is a dark yellow colonial architecture building. It was built during the time when the Saigon fell under French colonial (Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1976). It is more than 124 years old (it was completed in 1891). It can be said that this post office was built during the same era with the Notre Dame Cathedral. Both places are located right to each other. At that time, French intended to make Saigon the Paris of the East. This place is certainly another must not miss destination as the building is extremely beautiful.
Although both the church and the post office are located close to each other, just across the street, if you are a serious photographer and wants beautiful shots, you might want to plan the time accordingly. This is because both are facing the sun in different direction. The Notre Dame Cathedral is facing the sun in the southeast where as the Saigon Central Post Office is facing to the southwest. Accordingly, the church is beautiful for morning light whereas the post office is at best with the evening light. If you want to come at once and get perfect photos for both places, you would have to come in the morning between late December and beginning of January. But if you are not so serious, you can visit two times. Or if you are just want to see and chill out, then you can come anytime and even on the day without the sun. This is just a small tip from me.
If you were walking until here and it's time for lunch, I would like to recommend a Vietnamese food around here.
Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant
It is a truly authentic Vietnamese food on a yellowish French colonial style of building, just the same way as that post office. To order food in this restaurant is quite unique. You can walk around and tell the staff of what do you want right away. At first, I was wondering why they let all the sellers come and sell food inside the restaurant, haha. I highly recommend to not miss this restaurant with all the things it has to offer.
For more photos and full description, please click here อัลบั้มภาพในเพจ
After feeling full with the food, we can also stop by for a coffee or snacks like cakes and cookies at:
M2C Bistro and Coffee
It is located not so far from here, just a few walk and we will reach.
This late afternoon, let's have another 2 stops.
Ho Chi Minh Square and Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Ho Chi Ming City Hall is also a place for people committee place. It is the old building, a symbol of French Colonial. It spent 16 years to complete the construction. Tourists are not allowed inside, we can only see outside which has the statue of Ho Chi Minh waving his hand!!! Well, how come I felt that did he previously was holding a baby!!!
In front of the City Hall is a visibly long distance yard.
Let's move onto....
Saigon Opera House
It is a neoclassical architectural building. The construction of this building constitutes a major revolution to the large building construction as it has changed the structure of the building from the brick roof to the steel one. This has massively reduced the weight. It is certainly another beautiful place for sightseeing.
It is also very beautiful at night with the beautiful lighting.
Now, please allow me to check in to the hotel first. I have traveled out from home since 4 a.m., reached the airport by 5 a.m., flew at 7.30 a.m., reached here at 9 a.m. and started the journey at 10 a.m. Then, we have stopped at 4 great tourist destinations and 2 deliciousness. Now, I'm quite exhausted and sleepy. I stay at the Pullman Saigon Centre.
- Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel 10.764421, 106.691928
(Its review should be out soon.)
A few hours rest at the hotel, it is dark now. So it's time to have dinner and we come to our next stop for deliciousness.
Quan Bui Restaurant
It is the fusion food of Vietnamese and French. There are also other restaurants in this area to choose as well as several entertainment places.
I think the taste is a bit sweet like the Western taste. It might be the taste that several people like ... probably.
If you yet feel asleep at night, I recommend you to revisit Ho Chi Minh Square. Coming out here, we can see the lights, the fun, the lives of young and old, men and women gathering around.
Xin Chao Ho Chi Minh City
The new morning in the former Saigon city. That very tall building on the right hand side is Bitexco Financial Tower, the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City and the third in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is considered to be the city having the largest numbers of scooters. They are hosting more than 3 millions motorbikes. Formerly, it had the highest number of bicycles and now it has changed to motorbikes. It looks quite chaotic for the new comers to this city, in fact, any city in Vietnam would give you similar feeling. However, in a mist of the seemingly mess, it hides the order. People here drive slowly and all with helmet on. You would not see people under 18 years old riding outside.
Although the Bitexco Financial Tower is not as high as the Baiyoke Sky Tower in Thailand, the architecture of having the satellite on top of the building is quite awesome, do you think so? If you have time, you could go up for sightseeing or the buffet.
Let's start our new day with District 4, which is adjacent to District 1.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
It is located at Saigon River where it is the ending point of Ben Ye River. You could see the beauty of the curving river and enjoy the story of all time number one hero of Vietnamese, uncle Ho Chi Minh.
It is also called "Dragon House". It shows the autobiography of uncle Ho Chi Minh or formerly known as Nguyễn Tất Thành.
On the second floor, you can oversee the ancient ship completely sitting there. This place is a former port of France.
On the outside of ground floor is a park along the river.
Now it comes again, time for lunch recommendation. I'm sure it's very compatible to the previous one.
AN Vietnamese Bistro Restaurant
This is certainly another must not miss restaurant. It is a classical Chinese-Vietnamese food. Let's escape from the French thing for a while.
Staff dress Ao Yai, ฟ traditional dress of Vietnam, to serve to food. Love it ^^/
From lunch, let's go for a coffee time. At the end, this is a coffee town, we can't miss it, can we? Let's stop at....
It is a hip coffee shop that has extremely meticulous process of making coffee.
Let's go experience a variety of techniques in making coffee and see what it takes to have such amazing shots of coffee.
Or you can simply take your laptop and have a chill time with coffee here.
Then, we walk pass Ho Chi Minh Square for another 1 kilometer. Enjoying the view along the walk and now we are going to our next destination.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
We can stop by here to see a story of Saigon both before and after the French occupation. This museum is considered the most complete French architecture in Ho Chi Ming (formerly known as Saigon).
This building is where the former President Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated.
What I like the most is this stand (the below photo). It has the complete timeline chart of Vietnamese history.
To be able to understand any nation's history about time and era, I think timeline is the clearest structural explanation.
Looking out of the window from Ho Chi Minh City Museum, you can see a skyscraper of the Bitexco Financial Tower. Two different places in different times, one is a place of history and the past while the other is the symbol of present and the future of Ho Chi Minh City.
Our next stop would be a love for the shoppers who love copy-brand things!
Try to walk along the map I've given above, it might not be the shortest way to get there but it will amaze you with tall and giant ancient trees standing along the road.
Ben Thanh Market
On the area of more than 11,000 square meters, it offers just about everything. You need to negotiate prices though, sometimes to the half. Everything needs to go through negotiation, even a canned beer!
The exchange rate of THB and VND. When I went, it's about 10,000 VND=16 THB.
ลิงค์ update The Currency Exchange Rate
Vietnamese don't like to say the last three zeros. For instance, for 10,000 VND, they would leave the last three zeros and just call ten, which stands for 10,000. Like when I buy a canned beer (111 brand, quite delicious), they said it's twenty-five, which means 25,000 VND, so I negotiated it to fifteen (15,000) and it worked as this is a regular price. 15,000 VND is about 24 THB.
At night, Ben Thanh Market turns into night market. All shops are set around the market as well as food shops. It's the shopping paradise and eating paradise for street food lovers. It's inexpensive and delicious.
For our last stop that I want to recommend is the place that you must visit once if you get a chance to visit Vietnam.
The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater
The water puppet performance is coming from the north of Vietnam, around Red River area. It is the arts of peasants with hundreds years of history. The show will also be in the water with puppet behind the curtain.
It opens daily, two times each day: 17.00 p.m. and 18.30 p.m.
Let's end the trip with a dinner!
The restaurant that I want to recommend will take a bit of walk. It is approximately 1.8 kilometer or you can also take this opportunity to get a taxi.
Here, taxi goes by meter, not so expensive and provides you with a receipt.
The Refinery Restaurant
Let's take a break from Vietnamese food and enjoy the authentic French food.
The taste is quite good. For me, I don't usually like Western food but I still find it quite delicious. Our food includes the starter (Frise'e aux Lardons), followed by main course (Roasted Sea Bass) and ended with dessert (the Refinery Frozen Cheesecake).
So this is a handy guidebook to go around in Ho Chi Minh City. This trip I was invited by Nokair as a travel blogger. In fact, this trip continues for one more day but I have to leave the trip and go to Mui Ne. So I would like to compensate the missing information of Ho Chi Minh city with the desert time at Mui Ne. Please stay in tune, it should come out soon. If you like, please click like. If you love it, please share it further. Thank you very much :)
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