Saigon is the country’s commercial center and, with over eight million inhabitants and four million motorbikes, it’s a city that never sleeps. Despite the well-documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. A walking tour to admire Saigon’s historic landmarks is a must.
Transfer to Dong Khoi street, or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville which are still two of the finest buildings in Saigon. Wander up to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris (it is only possible to visit inside when no service is being performed). Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustave Eiffel, before he had risen to fame for the Eiffel Tower. The former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war, is a short drive away and reveals the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. Continue to the City Hall (the former Hotel de Ville) which was completed in 1908 by the French. It remains as one of the most stunning colonial monuments especially when floodlit at night (outside visit). Then sit down at a street coffee shop for a break and observe the daily life of the locals, and have a little personal interaction with your guide over a cup of coffee. Your guide will give you some interesting tips such as how to cross the road without breaking a sweat or say a few simple words in Vietnamese as well as offer an insight of the local’s daily lives.
Lunch is at local restaurant.
In the afternoon, drive to the War Remnants Museum for a vivid glimpse of the American war through a local’s eyes (Please note that some of the photos are very graphic). Head to China town to visit Thien Hau temple, built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century to honor the Goddess of the Sea. The temple’s ornate interior courtyard is always full of life as worshippers from the local Chinese community come to offer their prayers. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card and attach it to one of the incense coils in the local custom. Continue your visit to FITO, the first museum of traditional medicine in Vietnam, offering an insight into how traditional medicine was used in the past.
Silverland Yen hotel