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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) tourist attractions
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) tourist attractions
18/04/2017 - 510 view
Ho Chi Minh City (old named is Saigon) is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a colorful history going back hundreds of years. Saigon is the second most important citym of Vietnam after Hanoi. It is not only a commercial center but also a scientific, technological, industrial and tourist center. The city is bathed by many rivers, arroyos and canals, the biggest river being the Saigon River. The Port of Saigon, established in 1862, is accessible to ships weighing up to 30,000 tons, a rare advantage for an inland river port
City climate
The climate is generally hot and humid. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season, from May to November, and the dry season, from December to April. The annual average temperature is 270C. The hottest month is April and the lowest is December. It is warm all year.

City History
Many centuries ago, Saigon was already a busy commercial center. Merchants from China, Japan and many European countries would sail upstream the Saigon River to reach the islet of Pho, a trading center. In the year of 1874, Cho Lon merged with Saigon, forming the largest city in the Indochina. It had been many times celebrated as the Pearl of the Far East. After the reunification of the country, the 6th National Assembly in its meeting of the 2nd of July, 1976, has officially rebaptized Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City. The history of city relates closely with the struggle for the independence and freedom of Vietnam.



Nowadays, Ho Chi Minh City is the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracting a large of visitors to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City has various attractions as Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, system of museums, theatres, cultural houses... Recently, many tourist areas are invested such as Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa..., which draw numerous tourists.

 
TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN HO CHI MINH CITY:
 

War Remnants Museum
One of the most interesting museums in Vietnam is The War Remnants Museum. Many tourists come here never miss this museum. It is located at 28 Vo Van Tan St, Dist.3 Ho Chi Minh City. Operated by the government, the museum was opened in September 1975 as "The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government”, focusing on exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Since then, it has undergone many changes and renovations due to the process of normalization of relation between Vietnam and the United States, such as the change to its current name in 1993.


Vietnamese Wars possibly the only thing in mind of foreigners before coming to this nation. Though Vietnam has changed itself and the prejudice has somehow been replaced by a new modern developing image, it’s crucial for tourists to look at the war from a different perspective. This is truly famous museum where they can transform an ordinary visit to an intellectual yet remarkable trip.
 
Today, the War Remnants Museum functions as a place to display devastation of the war between 2 countries from 1961 to 1975. It includes several buildings storing military equipment and disturbing photographs about the traumatizing consequences of Agent Orange, napalm and phosphorus bombs. Many pictures are shown here about atrocities such as My Lai massacre, a guillotine used by Southern Government of Vietnam. In addition, last but not least three jars of deformed human features indicating haunting effects of the war on the next generations. Many of of unexploded ordnances are stored in the corner of the yard, seemingly with their charges removed. Not only does the museum illustrate a phase of painful history, but it also tells unknown stories about war to people, especially to Westerners. Many preceding travelers have failed to hold their tears in front of the pictures here.
 

Notre Dame Cathedral
Situated right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City is the most famous landmark as well as core Cathedral of the city, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral (translated as “Nhà thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn). 
Notre-Dame Cathedral, or Notre-Dame Basilica to be exact, is a famous age-long cathedral in Southern Vietnam. It is a magnificent building located at the Paris Square in Chi Minh City City downtown, attracting not only Catholics but also most tourists for its neo-Romanesque style architecture and a sacred atmosphere.
 
Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers, reaching a height of over 58 meters (190 feet). Following the French conquest of Cochinchina and Saigon, the Roman Catholic Church established a community and religious services for French colonialists.
The first church was built on Rue 5 (today's Ngo Duc Ke Street). This had been a Vietnamese pagoda, which had been abandoned during the war. Bishop Lefevre decided to make this pagoda a church. In 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien, whose jurisdiction included Saigon parish, attended Holy Mother Congress held in Vatican and ordered a Peaceful Notre Dame statue made with granite in Rome. When the statue arrived in Saigon, on February 16th, 1959, Bishop Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install the statue on the empty base and presented the title of "Regina Pacis". It was Bishop Pham Van Thien who wrote the prayers "Notre-Dame bless the peace to Vietnam". On the following day, Cardinal Aganianian came from Rome to chair the closing ceremony of the Holy Mother Congress and solemnly chaired the ceremony for the statue, thus the cathedral was then-on called Notre-Dame Cathedral.


 
The cathedral boasts its honored status as a Basilica consecrated tens of years ago. In 1960, the Vatican founded Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam and assigned archbishops to Hanoi, Huế and Saigon. Notre-Dame cathedral was titled Saigon Chief Cathedral. Yet, in 1962, Vatican anointed the Saigon Chief Cathedral conferred it basilique in honor of the tri-cenetary of the Bishopric of Saigon. Since then, this cathedral was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, which has enhanced its value and absorbed hundreds of thousands of catholics as well as international tourists to pay a visit. 
Apart from the religious meaning that attracts tourists, the even more special captivating point of Notre-Dame Cathedral is its special neo-Romanesque style of architecture. During its construction, all its red bricks were imported from Marseilles and colored glass windows made in France’s Chartres Province, France. Tiles have been carved with the words Guichard Carvin, Marseille St André France (perhaps stating the locality where the tiles were produced). Some tiles were carved with the words “Wang-Tai Saigon.” Many tiles have since been made in Saigon to replace the broken tiles caused by war. There are 56 glass squares supplied by the Lorin firm of Chartres province in France. The cathedral foundation was designed to bear 10 times the weight of the cathedral. In front of the cathedral is a statue of the Virgin Mary. On a whole, the neo-Romanesque architecture and two 58m-high square towers tipped with iron spires dominate the city’s sky line, creating a beautiful religious site!
 
Full services in both Vietnamese and English are held every Sunday morning and are well attended by Vietnamese and foreigners alike. Other services are held throughout the week. Hence, visitors who wish to attend mass should go on Sunday at 9.30a.m.
 
Set amidst the active and continuously moving Saigon, the Notre Dame Cathedral is considered a stop for seekers of old beauties and calmness as well as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh city. For those who wish to ease their mind from stresses of daily life and immerse in tranquil atmosphere of religious buildings, touring this diversified city under religious theme will give you the perfect chance to explore the religions, the architecture and the cultural meanings lying behind well-known religious places in Ho Chi Minh city such as Nortre Dame Cathedral,Thien Hau Pagoda and Emperor Pagoda (Buddhism), Mariamman Hindu temple (Hindu)...
 
 
Centre Post Office
Located right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City - at number 2, Paris Commune Street, District 1, The Central Post Office is one of the oldest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built around 1886 – 1891, based on the design of Gustave Eiffel – a famous French architect and has become a significant symbol of the city, just like its opposite neighbor Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. It has long been the busiest post office of the country.
 
Being a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, this building fascinates tourists by its typical colonial French features, from exterior to interior decorations. By the first time, visitors may feel that they’re brought back to 20th century railway station in Europe, rather than a post office in an Asian country. From its ornate furnishings, gorgeous-pattern-tiled floor to its massively high ceilings and numerous wickets, all speak of another place in time. The interior design is even more elegant with the phone booths, which are just the same since the colonial period.
Walking inside, the first things you notice are the two maps: Saigonet ses environs, 1892 describing Ho Chi Minh City in the past and Lignes télégraphiques du Sud Vietnamet du Cambodge which is the postal route from Vietnam to Cambodia The building inside is big and airy with a lot of space. The ceiling was designed with arc shape which was carried by the two rows of steel pillars. This makes the building look grander and more stable. Also, the building looks just perfectly in harmony with the outside, considering its arched windows creatively designed with engaged piers, green window shutters or the main entrance with intricate ironwork.


 
The Post Office offers all kinds of traditional postal services like mailing, selling postcards or stamps (there is a big array of stamps to choose, which ranges in price from cheapest ones). Foreign money exchange is also available.
Don’t ignore Mr. Duong Van Ngo – an old man sitting at the end of a long wooden table underneath a mural of Ho Chi Minh, behind the sign “Information and Writing Assistance”. Mr. Ngo has been working here since he was 17, as a polyglot public letter writer. Being the last letter writer in old Saigon, he’s a source of stories of how could he connect people across the planet with his fountain pen.
 
Ben Thanh Market
Believe it or not, even though you have spent years shopping at several malls and commercial centers that shopping has become a boring and ordinary task to you, exploring an Asian market is always an exhilarating experience. Visit Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and you will understand. Being a bustling market in the daytime and a social center after sunset, Ben Thanh Market is absolutely a must-see attraction of the most dynamic city of Vietnam.


 
Built in 1870 by the French, the market was initially called Les Halles Centrales before being renamed Ben Thanh in 1912. From a wet market created by street vendors by the early 17th century, Ben Thanh has experienced many ups and downs throughout its history, and is now the oldest surviving market and one of symbols of Ho Chi Minh City. That makes it a must for any visitors travelling to this 300-year-old city.
Today, because the market possesses one of the most crucial locations in District 1(the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street), transportation is extremely convenient and trade is bustling. In the morning, you can find almost everything from dry food to clothes for a reasonable price. The market atmosphere can sometime be a real hustle and bustle, but it is an exciting experience after all. However, always remember that bargain is a must in any Vietnamese market.
From late afternoon until late night, the shops inside the market are closed, but several restaurants are open outside on the surrounding streets. These small interesting restaurants can offer you a variety of choices: bubble teas, grills, seafood, etc. When you are tired of eating, stand up and take a walk along the neighborhood which has in no time transformed into a night market full of lights and glamour.
Ben Thanh Market is possibly the most well-known symbol of Ho Chi Minh City, showing up in a large number of publications, movies, online articles. Why it is so? Because your trip to Ho Chi Minh City cannot be completed without a visit to Ben Thanh market to experience the “real Vietnam”!
 
Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace (Hoi Truong Thong Nhat) is one of the most fascinating things to see in Ho Chi Minh City, " said Daniel Robinson and Joe Cummings, the two authors of a famous travel survival book about  Vietnam.  Historically and architecturally, it is.
With regard to history this building witnessed every historic events happening to the Saigon government until the regime finally collapsed in April 30, 1975.
Twenty years after the liberation of Saigon, the name of this historical building has become familiar to every inhabitant of this city. However, formerly, in the Saigon regime, the building was known as Dinh Doc Lap (which means the Independence Palace) where different presidents of South Vietnam resided.
 Under the Saigon regime, the "Independence Palace" always symbolized the power of the government of "South Vietnam." In the end, on the morning of April 30, 1975, a tank of the Liberation forces crashed into the iron gate of the palace terminating the existence of a regime.
 


In addition to historic value, the Reunification Palace is also famed for its architectural characteristics which are unique in Vietnam. History has it that in 1868 a palace for the General Governor of Cochinchina, then a French colony, was built on what is now the Independence Palace.
The building later became the presidential palace of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) following the 1954 Geneva Treaty. Later, a new design for the building was carefully drawn up by Ngo Viet Thu, one of the most talented Vietnamese architects. The new building was constructed on the site and completed in 1966.
Located in the heart of downtown Saigon, the Reunification Palace  was built on a block of 12 hectares, bordering four streets: Nam Ky Khoi Nghia in the front (the main entrance is open to Le Duan Boulevard), Huyen Tran Cong Chua in the back, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai on the right and Nguyen Du on the left. Surrounded by immense lawns and high trees in its gardens, the main building of the palace is modern architecture, typical of the 60's.
Before 1975, access to the palace and some surrounding areas was prohibited to the public. Now the site has become a famous tourist attraction in HCM City. The palace hosts about 700-1,000 tourists per day on average. According to Mr. Bui Duc Huy, the palace's director, the number of visitors can amount to 2,500-3,000 on Sundays.
 
 
Cu Chi tunnels
During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of Cu Chi lived in an elaborate network of underground tunnels. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and played a major role in North Vietnam winning the war.
 


The Cu Chi tunnels were built over a period of 25 years that began sometime in the late 1940s during the war against the French. The excavations were used mostly for communication between villages and to evade French army sweeps of the area. When the National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency began around 1960, the old tunnels were repaired and new extensions were excavated. Within a few years the tunnel system assumed enormous strategic importance, and most of Cu Chi district and the nearby area came under firm Viet Cong control.
 
The secret tunnels, which joined village to village and often pass beneath American bases, were not only fortifications for Viet Cong guerillas, but were also the center of community life. Hidden beneath the destroyed villages were underground schools and public spaces where couples were married and private places where lovers met. There were even theaters inside the tunnels where performers entertained with song and dance and traditional stories.
But life in the tunnels was difficult. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, scorpions, spiders and vermin. Most of the time, guerrillas would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night to scavenge for supplies, tend their crops or engage the enemy in battle. Sometimes, during periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time. Sickness was rampant among the people living in the tunnels, especially malaria, which was the second largest cause of death next to battle wounds. Almost everyone had intestinal parasites of significance. Only about 6,000 of the 16,000 cadres who fought in the tunnels survived the war.

Throughout the course of the war, the tunnels in Cu Chi proved to be a source of frustration for the U.S. military in Saigon. The US and Australian tried a variety of methods to detect and infiltrate the tunnels but all were met with failure. Large scale ground operations involving tens of thousands of troops were launched. They ravaged rice paddies, bulldozed huge swathes of jungle, and villages were evacuated and razed. The Americans also sprayed chemical defoliants on the area aerially and a few months later ignited the tinder-dry vegetation with gasoline and napalm. By a strange twist of fate, the intense heat of the napalm interacted with the wet tropical air only to create cloudbursts that extinguished the fires. The Viet Cong guerrillas remained safe and sound inside their tunnels.
Unable to win the battle with chemicals, the US army began sending men called ‘tunnel rats’ down into the tunnels. Armed only with a gun, a knife, a flashlight and a piece of string these tunnel rats would enter a tunnel by themselves and travel inch-by-inch cautiously looking ahead for booby traps. The job of a tunnel rat was fraught with immense dangers. The entrance holes in the ground were barely wide enough for the shoulders. After a couple of meters of slipping and wriggling straight down, the narrow tunnel took a U-turn back towards the surface, then twisted again before heading off horizontally further. The light from the battery powered lamp wasn’t enough to pierce the darkness inside the tunnels, and there was no room to turn around and retreat. The tunnel rats, who were often involved in underground fire fights, sustained appallingly high casualty rates.
 
The Americans then began using German shepherd dogs trained to use their keen sense of smell to locate trapdoors and guerrillas. The tunnel people responded by washing themselves with American soap which gave off a scent the canines identified as friendly. Captured US uniforms were put out to confuse the dogs further. Most importantly, the dogs were not able to spot booby traps. So many dogs were killed or maimed that their horrified handlers then refused to send them into the tunnels.
 
Finally, by the late 1960s, the American began carpet bombing Cu Chi destroying several portions of the tunnels along with everything else around. The gesture was militarily useless by then because the USA was already on its way out of the war. The tunnels had served their purpose.
The 120-km long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi has since been preserved and turned into a war memorial park. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. Some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists, while low-power lights have been installed in several of them to make traveling through them easier and booby traps have been clearly marked. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tet Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten.
 

 
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