Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, is the biggest city of Vietnam and located in the southern part of the country. If you choose to travel across Vietnam for a few weeks, it’s not unusual to start your journey in Hanoi (the north) and end it in HCMC (the south), or the other way around. We chose HCMC as the final station of our trip, to end it in style.
HCMC and Hanoi are two completely different worlds; in Hanoi you clearly see the communist influences of the past, whilst in Saigon you notice the more western influences. This is characterized by the wide street lanes, modern shops and coffee bars at every corner. But you also notice HCMC suffered greatly during the Vietnam war.
The war museum
In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City you’ll find the war museum, which tells you about Vietnams history during the war. When you arrive at the museum massive, impressive war vehicles await you, from tanks to jet fighters. The many pictures of the many victims of this terrible war made a huge impression on us. Make sure that you’re not visiting the museum on your own, because afterwards you’ll feel the strong urge to talk to someone about the horrors that you just witnessed. Visiting the war museum is a definite must-do, because it gives you a slight idea of the terrible things the Vietnamese people have gone through during this unfair war.
The Cu-Chi tunnels
At half an hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City you will find the Cu-Chi tunnels. These tunnels are part of a much larger tunnelcomplex where the Vietnamese people hid themselves from the Americans during the war, and from where they fought back. After the war, the tunnels have been made bigger to fit western tourists, so they can try to experience what living in the tunnels must have been like. One of the best things during visiting the Cu-Chi tunnels was the amount of enthusiasm and pride our guide used to share his stories. The boobytraps the Vietnamese set up to trick the Americans, the way they made the tunnels completely undetectable and the power and will these people had to keep on going – this gave us a completely different feeling than only the sad story the war museum told us. It gave us a feeling of pride and hope.
These tunnels are nowadays massive touristic attractions, so very, very crowded. We booked a private tour and because of that we were practically alone. It costs a few more Vietnamese Dong, but it’s well worth it.
Ho Chi Minh City – a Metropolis
Next to the touristic attractions which will take you back to the Vietnam during times of war, Ho Chi Minh City is a city that lives, more than ever. You can go on a good shopping spree, have dinner at the greatest restaurants, go out to the best clubs and most of all enjoy yourself to the fullest. We absolutely loved this city and thought it was a perfect way to end our journey!