SIGHTS
HO CHI MINH / SAIGON, VIETNAM

Area Code 08, $1=15,415D, Mar 3, 2003

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No update in 2007 research

S1 Reunification Palace(Hoi Truong Nha): 106 Nguyen Du.
7:30-11,13:00-16:00 $4 Highly Rec
30 minute tours, available in English, French, Chinese, Japanese. Fuzzy video about Vietnamese history is shown in English, French and Chinese.

This building was the old Presidential Palace of South Vietnam. It's preserved as it was from that time.  See many official rooms, the living quarters, the dance floor, the helipad, the underground war room. On April 30, 1975, Viet Cong tanks crashed through the gates and erected their flag here to mark the end of the war.
Free bicycle parking available.
S2 War Remnants Museum(Bao Tang Chung Rich Chien Tranh): 28 Vo Van Tan Street, 1 block N from the palace. Tu-Su 7:30-11:30, 14-16:30
Entry fee: 10,000D. Check out the war apparatus in the courtyard, then go inside to see vivid, gut-wrenching documentation of American war atrocities against the Vietnamese.  Take a strong stomach with you.
Bicycle parking 7,000D Highly Rec
S3 Former US embassy: On Le Duan Boulevard, 4 blocks west from the palace. No entry, but you can slip through the fence and wander around the outside.  Try to imagine the Tet attack in 1968, or the hordes trying to get in at the end of the war.
S4 War History Memorial (Bao Tang Chien Dich HCM): 2 Le Duan 8-11, 13:30-16:00 Main display is an exhibition on the 1975 liberation of Saigon. Another display shows the history of the revolution. Not many explanations in English.This museum may be mainly for the Vietnamese. 10,000D, not worth paying
S5 Botanical Garden and Zoo (Thao cam vien): 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, 7-21:00, 4000VD, Feeding to bears 15:00, giraffes/elephants 10:00 & 16:30. elephant show SaSu9:15
The gardens are nice and relaxing, but the zoo animals are somewhat depressing.  Go here to watch all the kids.
S6 Historical Museum (Vien Bao tang Lich Su):
2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Open Tu-Su 7:30-11:00, 14-16:30, Entry 15,000D Displays materials dating from pre-historical periods to modern times. Art exhibition. Lots of Cham stuff. Many human remains are displayed. The back door leads you to the zoo. Nobody stops you if you go from the museum into the zoo without paying, but from zoo to the museum, you have to pay 10,000D.
S7 HCM Museum (Bao tang Cach mang): 65 Ly Tu Trong Open: 8-17:00 Entry fee: 15,000D
Built in an old palace, an interesting building in itself.  Shows the history of Vietnam's struggle for self-rule, in photographs, weapons, and other artifacts.  Limited English labels; chat with the guards to get the rest of the story.
S8 Ho Chi Minh museum (Nha luu niem Bac Ho):
1 Nguyen Tat Thanh. 10,000D, Tu-Su 7:30-11:30, 14-16:30 Uncle Ho artifacts and memorabilia.  Limited English.
S Eveneing Cruise: near the boat office(see F2) 17-21:00 with dinner $10, no meal $3

Architecture
S8 Notre Dame Cathedral: Cong Xa Pari Square 7:00-11:00, 15:00-16:00
Built in 1877-80. A huge, beautiful, Romanesque cathedral with two 40m-towers. A bit plain-looking after seeing too many ornate pagodas. Services held on M-Sa 5:30,17:00 Su5:30,6:30,7:30,9:30,16:00,17:15,18:30
S9 Buu dien T.P. (Central Post Office): next to the cathedral, Cong Xa Pari Square. 6:00-22:00
Built in 1880, during French colonial rule.
French style with high-domed ceilings.
Impressive example of French style architecture.
S Giac Lam Pagoda: 118 Lac Long Quan Street (in Tan Binh district). 5km from the city center. Oldest pagoda in HCMC. Check out the memorials to former monks. A horde of gilded figures in the main sanctuary; this is Buddhist rococo.
S Jade Emperor Pagoda (Phuoc Hai Tu): 73 Mai Thi Luu Street (in Da Cao district). A statue of the Taoist Jade Emperor Ngoc Hoang presides over the sanctuary, accompanied by one of the most colorful arrangements you'll see. Divinities and grotesque monsters. Don't miss the carvings depicting the ten hells.  Peaceful courtyard and second-floor balcony. Rec
S Other Pagodas and Temples: There are a zillion of them in HCMC.  Cholon district, in particular, has many worth visiting. The more you see, the more you can appreciate them.  The Xa Loi Pagoda (89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Street) and the Mariamman Hindu temple (45 Truong Dinh Street) are two good ones.
S12 Hotel Continental: 132-134 Dong Khoi Street.
Built in 1880. Colonial style. A high class hotel designed by a French architect. This was the setting for the novel "The Quiet American". The courtyard has an open air cafe. All-you-can-eat breakfast is served in the penthouse suite. US$7(1995)
S13 Majestic Hotel: 1 Dong Khoi Street.
This is where the media personnel stayed during the Vietnam war, broadcasting news to the world. Have a drink, and look out over the river, on the elegant fifth floor Sky Bar.


Other
S10 Ben Thanh Market: Le Loi & Le Lai, on the north side of the huge turning circle. Most user-friendly market in town. Vietnamese food available, daily products, clothes, electronic goods, souvenirs, etc. Tagged with tourist prices. Bargain hard and watch out for pickpockets. Rec
S14 Cho Lon District: China town. Go a few km west from central district along Tran Hung Dao Boulevard. Has a unique local atmosphere and a jam-packed market. You can take a bus here from near De Tham 5:00-22:00 3,000D
S Ho Chi Minh Center: Intersection of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue (near the Rex hotel and the Hotel de Ville).  The Vietnamese hang out in the evening in the small grassy squares around here.  Watch the well-dressed beautiful people cruise by on their motorbikes.  Pick a spot and hang; you'll make some friends.
S Night Cruise: Boat Restaurant leave from Majestic Hotel in the evening.  17-21:00, $10 with dinner, $3 without dinner

Out of Town (2007info)
 
Cu Chi Tunnels: About 10-15 km from Cu Chi town, 65 km from Saigon. Entrance Fee 70,000VD Day trip tour from Saigon-$4 dep 8:15 Rec
During the war, the VC dug over 250km of tunnels, equipped with bedrooms, kitchens, and hospitals. They stretched to the Cambodian border. Supplies were moved through here; attacks were launched.  The Americans dropped napalm, defoliants, and carpet-bombed. The tunnels have been enlarged to allow for tourists, but you should prepare to become very dirty. Visit the original tunnels near Ben Dinh village, not the recreated ones near Ben Duoc. 
Access: Bus #13 from Bin Thanh Market
Toa Thanh Cao Dai: The main temple for the Cao Dai Religion. Built 1933-55. 4km east of Tay Ninh. Believers, dressed in white Ao Dai (traditional dress), come and pray in the beautiful and very colorful temple.   Try to see it during a festival.  At the least, see it during one of the four daily services (6am, noon, 6pm, midnight).  You can photograph people only from the balcony. Entrance fee 70,000VD, 1 Day tour $5
Access :
Buses from HCMC to Tay Ninh(A town about 100 km NW from HCMC, bordering Cambodia), leave from Tay Ninh bus station in the Tay Binh district and from the Mien Tay station in An Lac.  And there's always motorbikes...
Tay Ninh and Cu Chi are in the same direction, even on the same road (route 22), from HCMC.  The two sights can be combined into one day trip. 

My Tho: One and a half hours SW of Ho Chi Minh by car/bus.
It is the gateway town to the Mekong Delta. Famous for rich fruits.
Day tour $7, dep8:30 return 18:30
Includes lunch, visiting the market, boat tour, some fruits.

A day trip is only a short taste of the Delta.  To really see it, you need at least three days there.  Every tourist cafe in HCMC has a Mekong tour, but try to see it on your own.



Tours from HCMC
Many travel agents and tourist cafes arrange various tours. An English Guide are usually provided. The most tours include lunch and breakfast. Entrance fee not included.(fee)
Mekong Delta: min. 8 persons
2 days 1 night $16 8:15-19:00+1 with meal
3 days 2 night $26 7:45-19:00 +2 with T-shirt
You may continue traveling to Phnom Penh after visiting Mekong Delta. 3 day 2 night trip $28 including the boat to Phnom Penh, lunch(1) breakfast(2) guide and the entrance fee. Arriving to Phnom Penh 17:00.
Day tours: min. 8 persons
Ho Coc Beach $10-15 7:30-18:30
Long Hai Beach $10-15 7:30-18:30
Vung Tau-Cap Saint jacques beach $10-15 7:30-18:30
Cao Dai Temple+Cu Chi Tunnetls ($5) $5 8:30-19:00
Cu Chi Tunnetls ($5) $4 8:30-13:30
Ho Chi Minh City Tour(min 6 people) $6 8:00-17:00
Mekong Delta Tour $7-8 8:15-19:00 with lunch

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