Whether you call it Saigon, or whether you call it Ho Chi Minh City, there is no doubt that you will spend some time in this busy city during your trip to Vietnam.
Saigon was originally the capitol of South Vietnam, and is the largest city in Vietnam. Most people who travel Vietnam will travel from north to south, or vice versa, so there is a pretty good chance you will either start or finish your Vietnamese vacation in this city.
24 Hours in Ho Chi Minh City
It can be difficult to get your bearings in this immense city of more than 9 million people. Enjoy breakfast and some traditional Vietnamese coffee before heading to the Saigon Skydeck to get a birds eye view of the city. The Skydeck, located in the Bitexco Financial Tower is located on the 49th floor and is open from 9:30 daily.
After seeing the city, start walking towards the War Remnants Museum, this is where you will be spending most of your afternoon, but on your way, make sure to check out some of the interesting and historical buildings along the way.
The first building you will come to is the Ho Chi Minh City Hall. This beautiful French colonial building with it’s popular statue of Ho Chi Minh outside is a lovely illustration of East meets West. Next, The Independence Palace is the former Presidential Palace of South Vietnam and has been largely left the way it was prior to the war. A replica of “the tank that ended the war,” the one who crashed into the palace is now on display on the lawn.
As you make your way towards the War Remnants Museum make sure to stop for lunch, as it is easy to lose hours within this museum. The museum grounds are littered with old military vehicles and equipment and is worth a look around. But what I found the most interesting, and the most heart wrenching, is the large exhibition about the effects of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese population, both during the war and throughout the generations that continue to be affected. If you have children prepare to be brought to tears at the photos of the poor children affected by various disabilities due to Agent Orange’s wide spread use during the war.
It might take a while to clear your head after a visit to the war remnants museum, so enjoy a stroll through the city towards the Ben Thanh Market. Watch out for your valuable in this crowded market, where you can buy pretty much anything you desire. The market closes around 6 PM, and at this time another market, a food market, opens up just outside. After a bit of shopping, grab a bite to eat at one of the food stall vendors outside the market before finally concluding your action packed visit to Vietnam’s largest city.