Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon (February)

Ho Chi Minh statue and City Hall (left).
Ho Chi Minh statue and City Hall (left).

So, backtracking to vacation to Southeast Asia this Jan / Feb.  The second country we visited was Vietnam.  We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)  and were there a few nights before moving on to see more of the country.  We explored the city with our own little self-guided walking tour, walking around and visiting the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, and a central market.  But, by far the best thing we did was to take a nighttime street food tour via motorbike.

The back of the bike tour we did was fantastic.  The food was good, not the most amazing we have ever had, but definitely good, and riding a bike with locals was a fantastic way to see the city and experience the culture.  I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting, and it’s usually not too much to get your own private tour if you don’t want to travel in a huge group.

The Reunification Palace had some really cool architecture, and when you visit you can see the underground bunkers and communications rooms used in the war.  Built in 1966, it was the President’s palace until the North Vietnamese took Saigon.  It’s now mostly preserved as it was when the North Vietnamese army arrived, and it’s sometimes used for State events.  The War Remnants Museum is about the wars with the French and Americans, although it’s mostly about the American Vietnam war, told from the side of the Vietnamese.  It’s very depressing, but worth a visit.  And the market we visited was okay, we were pretty tired and visiting markets in other countries often makes me appreciate Mongolia’s markets with much less aggressive vendors.  Just walking around the city was a nice way to see Ho Chi Minh City.  The city has some nice green spaces, and interesting mix of colonial architecture and newer buildings, and it was pretty easy to get around.

We arrived just after Tết, Vietnamese Lunar New Year.  All of downtown was decorated with different displays like this that were lit up at night.
We arrived just after Tết, Vietnamese Lunar New Year. All of the downtown streets were decorated with different displays like this that were lit up at night.
Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum (left), and the Saigon Opera House (right).
Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum (left), and the Saigon Opera House (right).
A view of the city from above.
A view of the city from above.
Motorcycles everywhere.  All over town.
Motorcycles everywhere. All over town.
We visited the Reunification Palace which sports some amazing mid-century architecture.
We visited the Reunification Palace which sports some amazing mid-century architecture.

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The Palace has huge grounds with a playground (left).  At the top of the palace is an awesome party room (right).
The Palace has huge grounds with a playground (left). At the top of the palace is an awesome party room (right).
At the historic Post Office: Ho Chi Minh mosaic portrait (left), and a map of Saigon in 1892 (right).
At the historic Post Office: Ho Chi Minh mosaic portrait (left), and a map of Saigon in 1892 (right).

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