1.Notre Dame Cathedral ( Nhà thờ đức bà)
The Catheadral was built by the French in the 19th century with bricks shipped from Marseille. This place gives you a taste of France in the heart of Ho Chi Minh Ville!
For a bit of history, Saigon Notre Dame Basilica was not the first church in town, the very first church was built on today’s Ngo Duc Ke Street. However, in order to fully meet the religious and community need of French colonists,commander-in-chief Bonard decided to build a wooden church in 1863 which was shortly attacked by termites.
In 1876, South Vietnam Admiral Duperré organized a design competition for the new church which is today’s Saigon Notre Dame Basilica and architecture J. Bourad won the competition and then was responsible for the construction of the church as well. In 11th April 1880, the official inaugural ceremony took place. 15 years after, the very most unique features of the Church – the two 60-meter high bronze bell towers were then added in to magnify the Church’s beauty. As one may not know, the Notre Dame was the harmonious combination of Roman architecture and the late medieval Gothic features.
Until now, the Church still remains its untouched state due to special bricks which were designed and created originally in French and directly transported to Vietnam. Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon is now becoming a popular gathering spot for young generations in Ho Chi Minh and it is considered the idiosyncratic symbol when people first think of Saigon.
2. Independence Palace (Dinh độc Lập)
Located just 6-minute walking from Saigon Notre Dame Basilica, Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, is another must-not-be-missed destination in Vietnam’s second largest city. The today’s Independence Palace was actually first designed by French architecture, then officially constructed on 23 February 1868 with a name of Norodom Palace, and finished after 3 years.
This is where a lot of French and Japanese colonist-generations used to work and live during the colonial period before 1954. The Palace was designed.with a concept of modern western architecture mixed with symbolic traditional eastern art. The Independence Palace also has a tremendous historical and cultural value reminding people of a striking event shocking the whole world at that time.
Tourists nowadays are attracted not only by the Palace’s historic value but also by its aesthetic surroundings. Walking through the giant cages, ones can see a huge neat lawn full of freshly-mown green grass with an ornamental fountain in the center. The best thing to do is then taking a memorable picture which can capture the whole palace with green grass and the water fountain.
3.War Remnants Museum (Nha Trung Bay Toi Ac Chien Tranh)
It is not easy to understand the difficulties and cruelty Vietnam has been through but after a visit to this museum you are a little bit closer.
The War Remnants Museum was first opened to public on 4 September 1975 with the purpose of restoring the heroic evidence of the war against cruel colonialism. The very first name of Museum was “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes” and then on 10th November 1990, the name was changed to “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Colonialism” before having present official name “War Remnants Museum” on 4th July 1995. War Remnants Museum is one of the worthy-of-visiting destinations in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Museum contains a lot of cultural, traditional and national significance reflecting strong determination, restless effort and deep devotion toward Revolution of Vietnamese people during the hardship time. More than 20,000 valuable war documentations, artifacts and films are being exhibited in the Museum, attracting 500,000 both domestic and international visitors annually.
4. Cho Lon (Chinatown)
Cho Lon, also well-known as China Town, is a must-see destination in Ho Chi Minh. The place is where Chinese immigrant people (yet they can speak Vietnamese really fluently) are staying and earning their living. In Cho Lon, the biggest and most crowded hub of trading is Tan Binh Market, where sells a lot of clothing, arts and handicrafts with an incredibly cheap price.
The best time to visit Cho Lon is when local people celebrating Chinese New Year Festival. During Tet Holiday, all the restaurants, cloth shops are lavishly decorated with multi-colored lanterns, red Eastern parallel sentences. The whole streets seem to be overwhelmed with one single red color. One another activity in Tet Holiday that need to be noticed is Lion Dance performed by local people. Lion Dance is a traditional ritual performed to bring good luck for a new year, in which two men dance costumed in a large ornamental artificial lion head and body. Cho Lon is also an interesting place which can offer tourists a newfangled experience of huddling through a crowd in Tan Binh Market, and trying to haggle with local shopkeepers over some beautiful handicrafts.
5. Cu Chi Tunnel (Ben Dinh)
Ho Chi Minh city, a very important but almost invisible landmark is located. The tunnels of Cu Chi hide a whole world including classrooms, kitchens and medical facilities underground. Today a park is built around a part of the system and you can see the, tunnels from above and even try to go down in one if you’re not too claustrophobic.
6. Giac Lam Pagoda
Giac Lam Pagoda built in 1744 is one of the oldest and most popular Buddhist pagoda people usually visit during the Tet Holiday. It was officially accredited as national cultural and historic site by Vietnamese Department of Culture and Information in 1988.
Once entering the pagoda through the main gate, one may encounter the garden with a large statue of Bodhisattva under the tall Bodhi Tree – the symbol of Buddhism. Come a little further, the seven-storey stupa with the traditional Southern architecture style will magnificently appear at one’s naked eyes.
This is the place where relics of Buddha are being stored and preserved. In addition, there are a lot of precious statutes of Buddha and Bodhisattvas made from both wood and bronze in the Pagoda. The Pagoda is located not too far from the city center, one just need 15-minute drive to get there. It is strongly suggested that one should pay a visit to Giac Lam Pagoda while staying in Ho Chi Minh City.
7. Central Post Office ( Bưu điện thành phố )
Saigon Central Post Office is a famous tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City located really near to Notre Dame Cathedral.
One interesting fact about the Post Office is that it was designed and constructed by famous French Eiffel Tower’s architect Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. Mr. Eiffel had derived his artistic inspiration from Western neoclassical architecture style and Asian style of decoration before harmoniously mixing them up and starting to construct the Central Post Office. Just like its neighbor Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office has long been becoming the symbol of busy Saigon and also an ideal place to have “bet” coffee and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
Walking through a little bit inside, you will notice that there are two big maps: the first one is Saigon ses environs and the second one is Lignes télégraphiques du Sud Vietnamet du Cambodge. Postal services such as mailing, money exchange, postcards are also offered in The Central Post Office.
8.Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker Quarter
While Hanoi has Ta Hien in the Old Quarter as a “tây” (foreigner) street, Ho Chi Minh is also famous for its bustle of Pham Ngu Lao Street when the light of city is on. Located in the center District 1, Pham Ngu Lao Street is a renowned gathering spot for foreign visitors coming to Ho Chi Minh as well as younger generation in the city. Foreigners visiting the city usually come here to sense the sophisticated lifestyle of the local people while youngsters in Ho Chi Minh treat the street as a place where they can meet each other, have a cosy chat or even dance and sing together, liberating themselves after a day full of stressful works.
Pham Ngu Lao Street is also regarded as the “never-sleep” street because there are a lot of bars and pubs nearby and they are operated the whole night long, ensuring a night full of fun for tourists. Not only that, the other reason that constitutes the attractiveness of Pham Ngu Lao Street is the food which are being sold on the wide pavement with an affordable and even cheap price. This street is a highly recommended spot for those who want something distinctive, something idiosyncratic that nowhere else Saigon can offer.
9.Emperor Jade Pagoda (Đền Ngoc Hoang)
There are many beautiful pagodas (temples) in Ho Chi Minh and Emperor Jade is considered by many to be the finest and most lavishly decorated. The architectural style is heavily influenced by southern China.
10.Museum Of History (Bao Tang Lich Su)
Bao Tang Lich Su first opened its doors in 1929. The Museum houses a unique collection of artefacts from Vietnam’s two thousand years of recorded history. A statue of the Buddha with 1,000 eyes and 1,000 arms is also part of this superb collection.