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COMPARE HO CHI MINH CITY HOTELS

Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh), commonly known as Saigon or by the abbreviation HCMC, is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Following the Fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. However the old Saigon moniker is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners, especially when referring to the most central part of the city, to which most tourists flock.

The helpful, Tourist Information Center (4G 4H Le Loi St, District 1. Tel (84-8) 822 6033) can be found on the northeast corner of the roundabout at the intersection of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue, right in the heart of the city. It's a great place to pick up a free map (which includes a map of Hanoi, as well) and get an idea of what the city and surrounding area has to offer.

See

  • Reunification Palace, Enter at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, 9693272. Open daily 7:30AM-11:00AM, 1PM-4PM. Also known as Independence Palace (this is the old name). This is a restored five-floor time warp to the Sixties left largely untouched from the day before Saigon fell to the North (construction started in 1962 and finished in 1966). Formerly South Vietnam's Presidential Palace, the war ended on April 30, 1975 when tank #843 — a replica of which is now parked on the lawn outside — crashed through the gate. Be sure to check out the impressively kitschy recreation room, featuring a circular sofa, and the eerie basement, full of vintage 1960s phones, radios, and office equipment, supposedly left exactly as it was found when the North took over. There is also a photo gallery and a propaganda film recounting how the South Vietnamese supporters and American imperialists succumbed to Ho Chi Minh's indomitable revolutionary forces, upon which point the South Vietnamese supporters were forgiven and everyone lived happily ever after. Tours are available and are free, but not necessary. There is a nice outdoor café on the grounds outside the palace. Entry 15,000 dong.  
  • War Remnants Museum, 28 Vo Van Tan Street, 9302112, 9306325, 9305587 (warrmhcm@gmail.com). Open daily 7:30AM-12PM, 1:30PM-5PM, last admission 4:30PM. Formerly known as the of Exhibition House of American War Crimes, the museum was opened in a hurry, less than five months after the fall of the South. It's currently housed in a rather confused assemblage of seven warehouses, with new purpose-built premises partially open for temporary and permanent exhibits. This disturbing display of man's cruelty during the Vietnam (American) War includes halls full of gruesome photographs, a simulated "tiger cage" prison and jars of deformed fetuses blamed on Agent Orange. There is bias as surprise, surprise there are no records of any unpleasant deeds having been committed by the North Vietnamese Army. Outside, there are helicopters, jets, tanks, and other bits of armament. However watch out for the amputees who will try and sell you their wares. It's only a block from the Reunification Palace — see the museum pamphlet for a map. Entry 15,000 dong.
  • On Le Quy Don, just south of the museum, is a 2000 dong/cone soft ice cream vendor, a happy treat in a hot and hectic city.
  • City Hall, end of Nguyen Hue Street. Originally called the Hôtel de Ville and now formally re-branded the People's Committee Hall, it's a striking cream and yellow French colonial building beautifully floodlit at night. No entry, but the statue of Uncle Ho in front is a very popular place for photos.
  • Museum of Vietnamese History, at the intersection of Le Duan Street and Nguyen Binh Khiem (just inside the zoo gates). The museum has a fine collection of Vietnamese antiquities, but unfortunately they are accompanied by signage which is both in poor English and full of risible Marxist distortions. Read up on Vietnamese history first or you'll have no idea what you're looking at. Outside, the Botanical Gardens are very nice and a good place for a cheap lunch away from the crowds. If you care about animal welfare, avoid the zoo.
  • Ho-Chi-Minh Museum, Duong Nguyen Tat Thanh, Dist. 4, for your propaganda dose. Open daily 7:30AM-12:00PM, 1:30PM-5PM, last admission 4:30PM, 10,000 dong entry. The museum (in a French colonial era building) near the dock of Saigon shows the life story of the modern day father of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (the guy on the money). There's also a Ho Chi Minh book shop as well.

Do

If the heat starts to get you down, there are several water parks where you can splash around to cool off.

  • Dam Sen Water Park, 03 Hoa Binh, Ward 3, District 11, 858.8418, 865.3453 (damsenwaterpark@vnn.vn, fax: 858.8419), . Mon-Sat 8:30AM-6PM, Sundays and Holidays 8AM-7PM. Close to the city center. Opened in 1999, with new water slides added each year — this water park offers some truly unique water slide experiences (including the amazing "Space Bowl")! You'd be a fool to resist. Restaurant, health services, and animatronic dinosaurs are on the premises. Do be careful though as the slides here tend to be much faster than those you may be more familiar with - basically follow the signs on the slides. Admission is height (and nationality) based; under 0.8m free, others 35-70,000 dong.
  • Saigon Water Park, just north of the city in the Thu Duc District, has been demolished to make place for urban development, but there's also Water World in District 9, Ocean Water Park in District 7, and Dai The Gioi Water Park in District 5.
  • The Saigon River. The park in front of the Renaissance Hotel offers nice views of the river. Make sure you know how to cross the road before attempting to get there. Expect to encounter some beggars in the park.

Visiting hair salons is also a must do for tourists, as Vietnamese are famous for it. Hair wash, manicure and pedicure cost no more than US$10.

If you're in Saigon on a Sunday night, then beg, borrow, or rent a two-wheeled vehicle and join the throngs for di choi. It's basically a party on wheels, where everyone just rides through the downtown streets until the wee hours.

  • Galaxy Cinema at 116, Nguyen Du, District 1, is a favorite among locals and bored tourists. They show up-to-date movies on the big screen.
  • Xuan Spa, Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, District 1, +84 8 824 1234
All List of Saigon Hotels


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