Back to Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

 › entry 35 of 39 › view all entries
KERRY - After our 5 days of peace on the island it was back to the hussle and bussle of the city! And boy is this city busy - there are even more motorbikes than in Hanoi! We only had a couple of days here, so spent the first day visiting the Reunification
Palace and the Vietnam War Museum and then the second day we did a day trip out to Coa Dai Temple and the Cu Chi Tunnels.

The reunification palace was quite an interesting place to see. We took the option of a free guided English tour around the palace, which I think was a good option as it gave you a little bit more info than just wandering the rooms on your own. The palace is big - you have  tour of 4 floors and the basement area. The president used to live here, and you get to see various rooms he had meetings in as well as his gambling room and the helicopter pad. the basement is probably the floor of most interest though as this was the floor where plans during the war were made and work was done and the old terrirorial maps are still on the wall.

The Vietnam War Museum was also a worthwhile place to spend a few hrs. We only had an hour there though so did not get to see all the exhibits. It is made up of lots of photos from the war - pictures taken by reporters who were killed, as well as pictures of the vietnamese people and soilders. Some of the photos were quite harrowing - especially those of local people who were victims as well as the effects of the chemical weapons that were used. We thought that the museum may be a bit biased and give too one-sided view (as we found the Ho Chi Minh museum did) but it was actually a bit more restrained.  However, they only showed photos of atrocities committed by the American soldiers, with the Vietnamese ones (both North and South) missing.

Coa Dai temple is about a 2 hr drive from Saigon, and was also well worth a visit. The religion Coa Dai is a mixture of Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism and Taoism and the temple itself is a sight to behold! It is like something from a fantasy world - so many colours in the temple. And it is huge! The alter had a huge globe with an eye in the centre, and the pillars supporting the building had green dragons around them. The ceiling is painted a light sky blue colour and has silver stars on it. The floor was made up of tiles in lots of different patterns. We were able to watch the midday ceremony there, and viewed this from the balcony around the top of the temple. The men and women sit on different side of the temple and the ceremony consisted of lots of singing and praying. The congregation wore white robes - some of the leaders higher up in the faith wore yellow, blue or red robes. An interesting experience.

Then it was off to the Cu Chi tunnels. These were the tunnels that the Viet COng and some NVA-sympathetic South Vietnamese used to hide in and live in when an attack was imminent from the North. The tunnels were so tiny!!  Andrei mnaged to get into one of the original ones just about, only to stand in though! They have widened a set of tunnels there for tourists to be able to walk through, which we did, but i only made it to the first exit point as it was so hot and very small! Andrei was a real man and went to the end - 100 metres - but he came out sweating! We also saw replications of some of the traps that the Vietnamese used - lethal! We also went to the shooting gallery where you could shoot mahine guns (for a price for the bulletts) as well as saw an old propaganda video about the area and how it had been destroyed by the Americans! All in all a touristy, but interesting place to go. It was also not that busy when we were there, which was good. I imagine in high season it is mobbed!

We bumped into Craig and Sam here again so had some beers with them one night and ate both nights back at the restaurant in the night market. We had a typical hot pot where you cook the seafood in the broth yourself and then serve yourselves and it was really nice! And very filling!

There was a lot more that we could have seen and done in Saigon with more time, and it wuld have been nice to take the trip down the Mekong, but it was on the Cambodia for us to take in the temples of Angkor Wat. I think we will be back to Vietnam though, we have enjoyed our time in the country.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Ho Chi Minh City Hostels review
Nice quiet haven in the middle of the city
The tourist bus from Mui Ne dropped us down the road from Ho Chi Minh bus station (which is on a roundabout in the wide boulevard that is Phạm Ngũ … read entire review