Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon… the last stop in our north to south two week Vietnam adventure. Saigon formally became Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in 1976 when it was renamed after its former leader, Ho Chi Minh. Many older residents still refer to the city as ‘Saigon’ as do many foreigners.
HCMC is a huge and relatively modern city of 10 million people and 8 million scooters! Legally people are supposed to wear helmets and most do in HCMC. However they often try to buy as cheaply as possible in order to comply with the law rather than consider their safety which contributes to thousands of annual fatalities.
Indeed, you risk your life every time you venture out in HCMC especially when trying to cross a 6 lane road with traffic in all directions, vehicles skipping red lights, driving on the pavements and driving the wrong way! Its all very well to follow Google Maps (whilst tightly clinging onto your phone (another hazard being bag and phone snatching)) but it doesn’t always offer the easy walking option! However a Metro is currently being built which is due to to be finished in 2020 so getting around in the future should be easier!
It was refreshing to walk along the above street but unfortunately this was the only walking street we found!
We had an action packed few days in HCMC which included a day trip to the Mekong Delta and a half day visit to the Cu Chi tunnels. We spent the rest of our time exploring the city whilst melting in 36 degrees. Unlike Hanoi and north Vietnam which is much cooler, HCMC apparently has two seasons, hot and hotter! We were here in ‘hotter’.
An observation deck is located on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower. Entrance is 200,000 Vietnamese Dong (approx £6.20) each. The tower is 262 meters high and is the tallest building in the city. Drinks are expensive in the sky bar however there is a small shopping mall at the bottom of the tower complex with a good coffee shop!
The Post Office is another famous landmark of HCMC with its fabulous interior ceiling…
The Reunification Palace (above) is also known as the ‘Independence Palace’ and was the building where discussions were held in 1975 for the reunification of North and South Vietnam.
We had 3 wonderful days of contrasts in Ho Chi Minh City… a relaxing day at the Mekong Delta, a sombre yet fascinating morning at the Cu Chi tunnels, crazy mad roads with the odd quiet and colourful park in between, new modern infrastructure next to old traditional buildings.
We stayed in District 1, the backpackers district which was constantly buzzing, especially in the evening. Below is a short video showing some street craziness with random Pink Floyd song playing in the background…