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Discover Ho Chi Minh City with Checkin Accommodation

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy. A chaotic whirl, the city breathes life and vitality into all who settle here, and visitors cannot help but be hauled along for the ride. From the finest of hotels to the cheapest of guesthouses, the classiest of restaurants to the tastiest of street stalls, the choicest of boutiques to the scrum of the markets, HCMC is a city of energy and discovery.Wander through timeless alleys to incense-infused temples before negotiating chic designer malls beneath sleek 21st-century skyscrapers. The ghosts of the past live on in buildings that one generation ago witnessed a city in turmoil, but now the real beauty of the former Saigon’s urban collage is the seamless blending of these two worlds into one exciting mass.

Still often referred to by it's old name, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a chaotic sensory feast. Motorbikes honk in a tidal wave across clogged intersections, locals crouch on street corners slurping steaming hot bowls of Pho (noodle soup); and the sultry air is thick with exhaust fumes and exotic spices. Temples huddle amid skyscrapers and designer shops, locals cast bamboo fishing rods into the languorous Saigon River, and in places, the city feels almost European, with its elegant French colonial architecture and wide, tree-lined avenues. Adding to the fascinating cultural jolt are a clutch of intriguing tourist attractions, from the poignant War Remnants Museum and captivating water puppet shows to colorful markets and the time warp of the Reunification Palace. Not far from the city, the famous Củ Chi tunnels are a must-see attraction, and the lush waterscapes and small villages of the Mekong Delta provide a fascinating glimpse of rural life.

  1. War Remnants Museum - Few museums anywhere convey the brutal effects of war on its civilian victims so powerfully. US armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are on display outside. Artefacts include that most iconic of French appliances, the guillotine, and the notoriously inhumane ‘tiger cages’ used to house Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists; VC) prisoners. The ground floor of the museum is devoted to a collection of posters and photographs showing support for the antiwar movement internationally. Upstairs, look out for the Requiem Exhibition. This striking collection documents the work of photographers killed during the course of the conflict, on both sides.
  2. Museum of Vietnamese History - This notable Sino-French museum houses a rewarding collection of artefacts illustrating the evolution of the cultures of Vietnam, from the Bronze Age Dong Son civilisation (which emerged in 2000 BC) and the Funancivilisation (1st to 6th centuries AD), to the Cham, Khmer and Vietnamese. Highlights include valuable relics taken from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, a fine collection of Buddha statues, the perfectly preserved mummy of a local woman who died in 1869, excavated from XomCai in District 5, and some exquisite stylised mother-of-pearl Chinese characters inlaid into panels.
  3. Southeastern Armed Forces Museum - The Southeastern Armed Forces Museum is a military museum. It covers all Vietnamese resistance to foreign occupation from the Chinese occupation, the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War and the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. The museum comprises two main sections: an outdoor display of large military equipment and a military museum.
  4. Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine - A lovely piece of traditional architecture in itself, this absorbing and very well-stocked museum affords fascinating insights into traditional Vietnamese medicine, itself heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy. Delve into the world of Vietnamese potions and remedies through the centuries and don't miss the Cham tower at the top, equipped with a fertility symbol.
  5. Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts - It is the major art museum of the city and second in the country. The museum covers three floors which house a collection featuring Vietnamese art works in sculpture, oil, silk painting and lacquer painting, as well as traditional styles including woodcut paintings, as well as Vietnamese ceramics and a collection of ancient Buddhist art. The first floor also includes a commercial gallery of art works. Archaeological exhibits are displayed on the third floor.
  6. Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre - The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is perfect for families with young children and anyone who enjoys light-hearted traditional entertainment. Water puppetry originated in rural villages in the Red River Delta and has been performed in Vietnam for more than 1,000 years. The captivating 50-minute show provides a window into the country's culture. It's presented in Vietnamese, but the strength of the puppet characters, both people and animals, transcends the language barrier. Live music enhances the experience; the talented musicians play traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes and two-stringed violins. The theater is air-conditioned, and if you're sitting in the front row, be prepared for some gentle splashes.
  7. Thiên Hậu Temple, Chinatown - The atmospheric 19th-century Thiên Hậu Temple is one of the top sights in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown (ChoLon) and one of the oldest Chinese temples in the city. Dedicated to the Lady of the Sea, Thiên Hậu, this evocative temple is visited by local worshippers as well as tourists, and many of the materials used in its construction were brought from China. From here, you can see the altar, with statues of the goddess, and the intricate porcelain dioramas adorning the roof depicting scenes from 19th-century Chinese life. According to legend, the goddess left two turtles to guard the temple in her absence. On the 23rd day of the third lunar month, a parade takes place in the neighborhood featuring a figure of Thiên Hậu, who is believed to save seafarers stranded on the high seas. Entry to the temple is free.

While you're visiting China Town, it's also worth stopping by the hectic Binh Tay Market, which sells everything from fresh produce to Chinese trinkets. The area is also home to some beautiful examples of classical Chinese architecture.

  1. Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and the Post Office - A fine example of Neo-Romanesque architecture, the red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral is a distinctive landmark in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Built from 1877 to around 1883, the cathedral was intended to be a place for the colonial missions to worship and a symbol of the power of the French colony. The exterior consists of red bricks from Marseille, and the clock between the two bell towers was built in Switzerland in 1887. Notable features of the interior include 56 squares of stained glass by Lorin from Chartres, France, the 12 pillars representing the 12 apostles, and one of Vietnam's oldest organs. Across the street, the French colonial-style post office, completed in 1891, was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the French architect of the Eiffel Tower.
  2. Saigon Opera House - Also known as The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, the elegant Saigon Opera House, at the start of the famous tree-lined Le Loi Avenue, is eye-candy for architecture buffs - especially fans of the French colonial style. It was built as Opėra de Saigon in 1897 by Eugene Ferret, a French architect, to entertain French colonists, and its striking facade echoes the style of the Petit Palais, which was built in the same year in Paris. After 1956, the building was used as the home of the Lower House assembly of South Vietnam and again became a theater in 1975, after the fall of Saigon. The only way to see the theater's interior is to purchase a ticket to a show. Both the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera perform here, and tickets are available at the box office or local travel agents. In the area around the opera house are some of the city's new shopping malls and exclusive hotels. You can also combine a visit here with the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral and Reunification Palace.
  3. Reunification Palace - The building served three primary purposes. It was both home and office for the president. In the basement are the stark, utilitarian corridors and cramped, windowless offices of the war rooms. The middle floors are state rooms, designed to impress visiting dignitaries and government officials with their show of style, opulence, and, by implication, power. Large conference and dining tables dominate meeting rooms decorated in a stylish mix of traditional and modern. The top floors–not coincidentally close to an aerial escape route on a helicopter that could land on the roof-top helipad–were the president’s family’s living quarters. Also known as Independence Palace, these days the Reunification Palace is primarily a tourist destination, but it is occasionally used for official government functions.
  4. Ben Thanh Market & Saigon Square - For sightseers, the hot and hectic Ben Thanh Market is almost an obligatory stop, even if only to witness the crammed stalls and market chaos. The stalls are piled high with everything from local delicacies, fish, flowers, and tropical fruits to shoes, clothes, colorful candy, and souvenirs. The markets are also notorious for pickpockets, so make sure any valuables are secure and out of sight. After soaking up all the ambiance, head to Saigon Square, about a three-minute stroll away, for a slightly less frenetic shopping experience with the added bonus of air conditioning. Here, you'll find fantastic deals on everything from clothing and backpacks to jewelry and shoes. Haggling is customary at both locations.

Ciao Bella - Address: 11 Dong Du, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3822 3329. E-mail: [email protected] Open: Every day 07:30am – 11:00pm

Ciao Bella is known not only for its unique and reasonably priced Italian cuisine, but also for its great atmosphere, truly one of Saigon's gems. It offers fantastic fresh food, and reliable and friendly staff.Ciao Bella's menu features many signature dishesand it is the perfect venue for all occasions.

2-            Café-Restaurant Ho Chi Minh City - Address: 1st Floor 171 CalmetteNguyễnTháiBìnhQuận 1, HồChí Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 62 881717. E-mail: [email protected] Open: Every day 07:00am – 11:30pm

Perfect for all occasions, Café-Restaurant Ho Chi Minh City will be popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a friendly customer service and an open relaxed ambiance.

3-            Baba's Kitchen - Address: 164 Bui Vien Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 83-838-6661 / +84 83-838-6662. E-mail: [email protected] Open: Every day 11:00am – 11:00pm

Baba's sets Bui Vien alight with the fine flavours, aromas and spices of India. There's ample vegetarian choice and the atmosphere is as inviting as the cuisine is delectable. If you like your food eye-poppingly spicy, the vindaloo dishes can assist, although the waiter may politely caution you that they are 'rather hot'. Rather excellent service too.

4-            La Villa French Restaurant - Address: 14 Ngo QuangHuy, ThaoDien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3898 2082 / +84 9 0771 9879. E-mail: [email protected]

A place where Chef Thierry would no longer be bound by the limitations of 5-star hotels or high-end restaurants, where he’d previously worked. It would be a creative space to explore French gastronomy at his own pace, in an environment designed to facilitate the best of what excellent ingredients could offer.

5-            Temple Club - Address: 29-31 Ton That Thiep Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This classy establishment, housed on the 2nd floor of a beautiful colonial-era villa decorated with spiritual motifs and elegant Chinese characters, offers a huge selection of delectable Vietnamese dishes, including vegetarian specialities, alongside a spectrum of spirited cocktails.

6-            Lush - Address: 2 Ly TuTrong, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam

Tel: +84 8 3824 2496. Open: Tuesday – Sunday 08:00pm – 03:00am

It is large and well furnished with contemporary lounge decor on 2 levels. Great DJs playing the latest hip hop, RnB and pop tunes keep the mixed crowd of locals, expats and tourists bopping along. It is one of the better bars in Saigon nonetheless.

7-            Apocalypse Now Bar – Café - Address: 2B ThiSach Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3825 6124. E-mail: [email protected] Open: Every day 07:00pm – 04:00am

A sprawling place with a big dance floor and an outdoor courtyard, the bar's eclectic cast combines travellers, expats, Vietnamese movers and shakers, plus the odd working girl. The music is thumping and it’s apocalyptically rowdy.

8-            Carmen - Address: 8 Ly TuTrong, District 1,Ho Chi Minh City70000, Vietnam

Tel: +84 8 83829 7699

It is a curious live music space. The atmosphere is intimate. This is definitely not a sweaty live music venue. Can be lots of fun and this is a unique Saigon night out in a convenient downtown location.

9-            Chill Skybar - Address: 76A Le Lai, District 1 | Rooftop of AB Tower, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 93 882 28 38. Open: Every day 05:30pm – 02:30am

It is a modern stylish and vibrant club, lounge bar and dining that offers both entertainment nightlife and social dining experiences destination. It is notably the first and the original "Skybar" concept in Vietnam. The music played in the lounge and skybar ranges from Hip Hop and R&B to Mash Up and Electro.

10-          Sax n Art Jazz Club - Address: 28 Le Loi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3822 8472. E-mail: [email protected] Open: Every day 08:00pm – 12:00pm

Sax N’ Art is Saigon’s only jazz club. The house band churns out jazz standards nightly and an impressive lineup of guests, including international names, has graced the stage over the years.

11-          Glow Skybar - Address: 93 Nguyen Du, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tel: +84 93 887 4569. E-mail: [email protected]

Glow Skybar Saigon, set within District 1, boasts a beach club atmosphere with expansive views of the city’s modern and colonial architecture. Attracting well-dressed expats and locals looking to dance to deep and tropical house tunes, this rooftop bar is fitted with plenty of tropical trees, black-and-white furnishing, spacious dancefloor, and a fully-stocked bar on the main deck.

The main means of transport within the city are motorbikes, buses, taxis, and bicycles. Motorbikes remain the most common way to move around the city. Taxis are plentiful and usually have trip meters, although it is also common to agree on the trip price before taking a long trip. Public buses run on many routes and fares can be purchased on the bus. For short trips, "xeôm" motorcycle taxis are available where the passenger sits at the rear of a motorbike. A popular activity for tourists is a tour of the city on cyclos, which allow for longer trips at a more relaxed pace.

War Remnants Museum - Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3930 5587 / +84 8 3930 6664. E-mail: [email protected]

2-            Museum of Vietnamese History - Address: 2 Nguyen BinhKhiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 829 8146

3-            Southeastern Armed Forces Museum - Address: 247 Hoang Van Thu Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

4-            Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine - Address: 41 Hoang Du KhuongStr.,Ward 12, Dist 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 38642430. E-mail: [email protected]

5-            Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts - Address: 97A Pho DucChinh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City - Tel: +84 8 3829 4441.

6-            Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre - Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Official site: http://www.goldendragonwaterpuppet.com.vn/

7-            Thiên Hậu Temple, Chinatown - Address: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City

8-            Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica - Address: Cong Xa Paris, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3822 0477

9-            Independence Palace - Address: 106 Nguyen Du, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City70000, Vietnam. Tel: +84 80 85094

10-          Municipal Theatre, Ho Chi Minh City - Address: 7 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: +84 8 3823 7419

11-          BếnThành Market - Address: Intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel:+84 8 3521 0004

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