If you only had 24 hours to savour the essence of Ho Chi Minh City, how would you spend it? Follow this travel guide, Ho Chi Minh City attractions such as Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office and Ben Thanh Market can be explored within a day!
Ho Chi Minh History
I started with understanding how the city came to be: I looked into their history. I did the Reunification Palace tour and took photos with the tank. Then I headed on to the graphic War Remnants Museum for another perspective of the Vietnam War.
How to Get Around Ho Chi Minh City
I then headed on to take in Ho Chi Minh City attractions within a comfort of a mini-van. This led on to me appreciating another memorable aspect of the city: how its people get around in modern Saigon: motorcycles! The thing that struck me was that despite the heavy traffic, the traffic moves with a certain ease, unlike the unrelenting craziness in some other cities. Later on, I learned how to navigate the traffic on foot.
I was introduced to the French’s influence on the city via the city’s historic architecture – the Central Post Office and the nearby red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral. A short detour brought us to the Opera House and on to Dong Khoi road, where we wowed at the historic Majestic Hotel, and gasped at the newer hotels that have sprung up in District 1. As I took in the sights, I thought about this city’s colourful past, and appreciated its active creation of a vibrant future for itself.
Pho 2000 or Pho 24
Then off we go again, this time, making our way to savour some of the country’s classic food – Pho (beef noodle dish). My pho recommendation was a ‘touristy’ place – Pho 2000, opposite the Ben Thanh Market, where Bill Clinton ate once. The avocado juice that accompanied my pho was excellent – which led me to conclude that not all touristy things in this city are ‘gimmicks’ or shunned by the locals.
Another restaurant worth recommending is Pho 24 – I can’t decide which is better. They are equally good!
Ben Thanh Market
Next on our minds was to bring home a piece of the city, which led us across the road and on to the Ben Thanh Market, a labyrinth of shops selling a mix of souvenirs, clothes, leather goods, embroidery work, lacquerware, and so on. This is where we spent two hours looking through fabrics for our Ao Dais, but that is another story for another time. As evening fell, the perimeters of the Ben Thanh market came alive with fresh fruit stalls and snacks – adding another hour of happy detouring.
Trung Nguyen Cafe – Stop to Smell the Coffee
Lugging our shopping spoils, we felt it was time to sit down for some Vietnamese coffee at a local cafe – Trung Nguyen. Our favorite coffee is Number 5 and it is very addictive. I ended up buying a packet of coffee beans home.
On our way, we spied a small bakery that we reluctantly walked away from, but not without first taking in the smells of the freshly-baked baguettes and pastries. We ended off our whirlwind day with a late viet-styled steamboat dinner, full of fresh greens.
On our way back, we snapped photos of a quaint shop that sold motorcycle helmets of all designs and shapes, and pondered where we would go to enjoy a spa or massage the next day, to pamper our aching bodies and feet.