What to do in Ho Chi Minh city center?

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh (HCM) guys, you’re gonna love it, let’s start.

DON’T FORGET TO WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE FIRST, THIS ARTICLE GIVES MORE DETAILED INFO BASED ON THE VIDEO ABOVE.

First, I need to tell you that the city has two names: Ho Chi Minh and Saigon. Before the American/Vietnam War the country was divided into two as North and South and that time the name of this city was Saigon and the old generations and Viatnamese from South still use this name.  After the American/Vietnam War, the country merged and the name of the city was changed to Ho Chi Minh based on the name of the communist leader of the country Ho Chi Minh. Among local people which name you use identify your political view but it is not the same for the foreigners.

Now you arrived Ho Chi Minh and gave yourself a day to discover the city center, then let’s go? We’re going to explore the center of Ho Chi Minh.

I stayed in  Town House 50 Hostel which is in the city center and highly recommended. If you’re gonna stay in the city center as well, you can either walk around the city center or rent a scooter or get the motorcycle-taxi to go from one attraction point to the other faster to save time. If you want to get a cab, then I’ll recommend you to get  Vine Sun taxi so that you won’t get ripped off. I used taxi, motor-taxi, as well as public transportation and mostly walk on foot.

Don’t forget to bargain with the drivers of motorcycle-taxi. Offer the 50% less of what they tell you, support it with your facial expressions as well haha. The worst you’ll meet in the middle.

Emma who I met at the hostel and me hit the roads and got a good deal from these motorcycle drivers to take us to main attraction points to see in the city center.

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Here what I did was a bit insane, I used my selfie-stick for gopro to take pictures and videos but the reality is it was dangerous. Why? Because Ho Chi Minh is a place that you need to be extra careful to protect your belongings. Especially your phone, cameras and wallet. I heard a lot of horror stories how people take away phones and cameras of tourists while pushing scooters to fall so that toursits wouldn’t come after them. My driver wasn’t concerned but Emma’s driver was very worried. I am glad nothing happened but better to be careful.

1-HO CHI MINH CENTRAL POST OFFICE

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Opening – closing hours: You can buy post cards  8.00- 17.30, sometimes it is open till late hours only to visit and walk around.

Entrance: Free

The architect of Ho Chi Minh Center Post Office is also the arhitect if Eifel Tower. Ho Chi Minh Center Post Office was finished in 1891and it really looks like the old European railway stations.

The portrait of Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader, welcomes you as soon as you walk in.

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I loved every detail about the Post Office, especially the ceiling.

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Don’t forget to send post cards to your family & friends to keep the tradition going.

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I sent post cards to my mom, friends, blogger friends and Shanghai friends and had to come here twice to finish all, writing post cards is a hard work.

DUONG VAN NGO, THE LAST MAN WHO WRITES LETTERS IN THE CITY

Here is an amazing man that you need to meet: 77 year old Vietnamlı Duong Van Ngo! He has been working here in the Post Office since he was 17 years old. He is quite well know in the city as well as internationally. When I approached him to meet and talk for a while, I was impressed with his English at that age. He said he learnt English from American soldiers. Besides, he also speaks French which he learnt back at school.

Duong helps people to reach their beloved ones through his words by writing a letter.  He told me that he still loves to write letters by selecting words carefully to connect people.

Don’t forget to meet  Duong Van Ngo who witnessed the history.

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I loved what he said “I don’t like the words coming from machines, they don’t have a soul.”, that’s why he hates email. He receives tones of thank you letters all around the world thanks to his letters.

You can see more pictures of Ho Chi Minh Central Post Officeon my instagram account:  whiletravelling

2-NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL

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Opening – closing hours: 8.00- 17.00, if the main door is closed, try the side doors, it might work:)

Entrance: Free

Notre Dame Cathedral is built by french colonies aroun 1880s and it is 60 m high and located across Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office.

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The first time I came here, it was closed due to religious ceremony and I didn’t know about the side door:)  The next day I came back and got to see the inside. You can see couples on motorcycles in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in the evening and across the street there are families having evening picnic and the best part is no one is insterested in with what others are doing.

4-WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM

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Opening – closing hours: From  7.30 in the morning to 12.30 and  13.30 pm  17.00 pm.

Entrance fee: 15,000VND

Travellers who have high awareness would never ignore the history of the country they are travelling to. One of the responsibilities of travel bloggers and travellers is to increase the awareness of their readers and close network about the people who suffered from the injustice or war in that country  years ago. Especially when i was travelling in Cambodia, the killing fields in Phnom Penh, I got the audio guide to learn more about the people who had to face with unbelievable torture. I cannot forget the last sentences of the audio guide

 If you think that what you just learnt won’t’ happen again, you’re wrong, especially if what happened here still stays unknown by most people around the world. History repeats itself. go and tell what happened here to everybody you know. When something similar happens in the near future, you are the ones that will stop it.

Ne kadar da doğru…

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Even though we know it as Vietnam War, for locals it is known as American War. All the evidence in terms of pictures of war, old weapons, tiger jails, helicopters, jets, tanks, documents, letters etc to show the world what happened in Vietnam: the crime against humanity. It is a must place to visit and to be told everyone about it. You can find my detailed article on Vietnam War here: The Unknown face of Vietnam War

5-REUNIFICATION PALACE

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Opening – closing hours:  7.30-11.30 & 13.00-17.00

Entrance fee: 20,000VND

This building has the same importance as the fall of Berlin Wall for Vietnamese as North Vietnamese soldiers took over the building by crashing the gastes with tanks. It is a symbol of the end of the war. It is turned into a museum and welcomes people all around the world.

6-OPERA BUILDING

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One of the magnificent architectures in the city is the Opera Building. In the evening with the lights it looks amazing. If you have time, buy a ticket to one of the dance shows or operas. You can also buy tickets to the shows from your hotel or hostel, how convenient:)

7-3A ART STATION

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3A Art Station is a lovely place with all the graffitis and creative internal designs of the cafes and art studios. Some of the cafes are closed early in the evening so take advantage of the day light to enjoy Vietanemese coffee. During the evening 3A Art Station hosts events and open bazaars with amazing local brands involved.

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This place is full of creative people so get ready to meet some cool people.  I met this lovely graffiti artistbelow, Lynn, in a department store. Her tattoo got my attention immediately and we started to talk. Then I left to find 3A Art Station and not long after I found myself in front of the graffitis. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, turned around and saw Lynn. She invited me to the event she and her boy friend were going to host in the evening, a blind-date event for Valentines’ day. I was gonna see a Valentines’ day event in Vietnam.  With a perfect timing, I was in the middle of hip-hop dances, competitions and a blind date event that over 50 people attended. Details are in the following link: Ho Chi Minh Style Valentines’ Day.

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For more pictures of 3A Art Station, follow me on instagram: whiletravelling

8- MARİAMMAN HINDU TEMPLE

Southern Vietnamese and many Chinese believe that this temple has super natural powers. This temple was made late 19 century for Mariamman Goddes. Don’t forget to take off your shoes when you walk into the temple. Here it is close to Benh Thanh Market as well.

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9-LOCAL SCHOOLS

I teach business, economics and entrepreneurship in Shanghai. This side of me reflects to my trips as well. I wanna learn more about the class environment and education systems of the countries I travel to. The best way to do it to get in touch with the schools for volunteer teaching like the one I did in Angkor Tree School. The other way is visit local schools as a visitor and listen to classes or give some classes. The best part is the kids coming to you and dragging you into the class and making you sit down in their tiny seats next to them haha.  Here they took my sunglasses and look at their teeth:)

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They try to speak English with you and when you try to say couple of words in their language they laugh out loud and show their teeth:) I would recommend to experience class environment in the countries you travel to but for guys it is not that easy. When you get “NO” from a teacher or a security guard, don’t insist on walking in, better not to create any tension or misunderstandings.

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10-BEN THANH MARKET (OLD BAZAAR)

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The bazaars in Southeast Asia are very popular and Ben Thanh is one of them. It is not the cheapest one in teh city but it welcomes a lot of tourists as it is in the center of the city.

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You can find anything and everything here. My experience was it was an expensive market compared to the other markets I’ve been to, like Chatuchak Market in Thailand.  Fake sunglasses was 20$ and the salers didn’t want to negotiate but maybe you’re better at negotiating:) You can spend almost an hour here easily if it is not your first Souteast Asian market:)

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11-BITEXCO FINANCIAL TOWER & SKY DECK

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Opening – closing hours:  Monday to Sunday. 9.30 -21.30

Entrance fee: for adults 200,000VND, kids 130,000VND, they have different packages for groups.

Bitexco Financial Tower is the gate to the sky by being in the list of world’s  20 iconic buildings and 124th highest skyscraper with 262 metres . If you want to look at the city with all lights on in the evening, don’t forget to stop here.

12-CITY HALL

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City Hall was made in 1908 by French and it is the office of the current Vietnamese government, therefore don’t even thingk about to walk in, it is not open to the public.

I hope this guide would help you to experience Ho Chi Minh even for a day and please share this with your friends who have been planning to visit Ho Chi Minh.

xoxo

Evrim

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