Tag Archives: Saigon

The Wonderful City Saigon, Ho Chi Minh

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After another long journey on a coach and and a breeze of a border crossing compared to our crossing in Cambodia we arrived in the city of Saigon, now I know its now called Ho Chi Minh city now but the locals still affectionately call it Saigion so I will do the same. My first impression was that it was very much different than Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, it was much cleaner and seemed much more organised. We arrived at hotel about an hour after crossing the border and as we were approached we were all taken aback, not from the sight of our hotel which I must add was very nice indeed, but the sight of the centre of town itself, it was especially spectacular arriving at night with all the tall hotels illuminating the skyline, the streams of neon lights absoultly stunning. We checked in and was shown to our beautiful room on the ninth floor, then headed for the rooftop bar to discuss the itinerary for the next day.
Now in our lonely planet guide there was a city walk which it was recommended to do which takes in a lot of the city’s attractions, the guide stated that it should take about three hours, but quite how they worked this out I will never know unless they just did the walk without seeing and exploring any off the attractions as it took us nearly two days, with coffee breaks, and lunch breaks, nonetheless by following the walk it was a great way to explore the city.
We meandered through the streets soaking up the sights and sounds and the sheer vibrance off the city a truly wonderful place. One thing I must mention is that Vietnam is a communist country which is in my opinion supposed to mean everyone is equal, well I’m not politically minded at all but I can tell you it certainly does not work in Saigon, there were more very upmarket designer shops in one place than in my own city of London also the amount of high end cars on the roads like Bentley’s, Porche’s, Range Rovers was amazing, yet by the same token their were many people selling whatever they could on street corners just to get by. So in my opinion “Communism just doesn’t work”.
Now back to the sightseeing, the sights you should see if you visit Saigon are and in no particular order the Old Post Office, a magnificent building built by the french architect Gustav Eiffel who is probably most famously know for designing the Eiffel Tower, it is pretty much as it was when it was built and it still is a working post office. Next which is right opposite is Notre Dame Cathedral, it was established by the French colonists in about 1863 and is a smaller version of the one in Paris. Unfortunatly for us it was closed when we arrived and did not open until later in the day, so we did not have the chance to see inside, so check your times. Next which is a short walk across a nice park which incidently is a great place to get some well needed shade from the sweltering heat, is The Reunification Palace it is a large imposing building built in the sixties and in my opinion not a particularly attractive building but its the history surrounding it which is it’s main attraction, it was formerly known as the Independence Palace, built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It is probably most famously marking the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates, and the last American helicopter left Saigon. Admission is 30000 dong which is £1 and also includes a free guided tour, excellent value for money. There are many other sights to see on the walk various landmarks, the impressive opera house and the walk finishing up at Shri which is a rooftop bar and restaurant with magnificent views over the city, a very nice way to end our walk and our day.
On our our last morning in Saigon I suggested to the girls that we visit the War Remnants Museum, now this did not seem to go down to well but I managed to swing it by saying we can visit the Ben Than market on the way back.
The War Remnants museum was once know as the Chinese and American war crimes museum, and it is probably the most popular museum visited by western tourists. The museum is spread over four floors and consists of 100’s of images and artifacts from the Vietnam war it is an interesting point to note that many of the most disturbing images of US attrocities are from US sources including the infamouse My Lai massacre. Whilst in my opinion the museum is a must see if you are in Saigon, but a word of warning it is a sobering place to visit, and a lot of the images are quite shocking the girls came away in tears.
Next stop Hoi An for a bit rest and recuperation.

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Vietnam 2013

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Well its holiday planning time again,and this trip is a big one, you see its my dear wife’s let say milestone birthday next year and also we have been together for forty years so we decided that we would do something special. Now from previous posts you can see we love travelling and have always been ones to do lets say not your average holiday, we have always booked our holidays independently and not with tour or holiday company, now for many people having the comfort of leaving it all to a travel agent is the way they like it but personally the planning of the holiday is just as enjoyable as the holiday itself.

We have travelled a great deal but mainly to the USA and throughout Europe and we have only been on the eastern side of the world  a couple of times both these times to India with a stop overnight in Qatar but our experience of the east has left us wanting more. Now the idea of going to Vietnam was conceived after watching an episode of Top Gear where they travelled to Vietnam and travelled from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in the south, travelling north along the coast and ending up in a place called Halong Bay a Unesco world Heritage site which I instantly fell in love with as it looks a truly magnificent place.

Another reason for booking independently is that you can change your plans along the way the more information about the country you are visiting to you gain, so here is the itinerary so far

  • Fly to Bangkok with Emirates airlines, where we have three nights at the hotel Boonsiri Palace.
  • We then have the option of either taxi, coach or train to the border town of aranyaprathet
  • Cross the border into Cambodia then travel onwards to Siem Reap by coach or taxi (no trains in Cambodia)
  • We have three nights at the Hotel La Tradition d’Angkor it’s from here will be visiting the temples of Angkor
  • Then our next leg is an onward journey by river speed boat , (looking forward to this part) to Phnom Penh for two nights where we are staying at the Aqua Boutique Guesthouse.
  • Next it’s onto Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon. We are staying here for four nights and are staying at the Nhat Ha 3 Hotel it’s from here will be visiting the various sights that Saigon has to offer, the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels (not all the 200km of them I might add) and the Killing Fields etc, although the killing fields will be a rather sobering and distressing place to visit I feel its a must if you are in Saigon
  • Next it’s an overnight sleeper train to Nha Trang where its time to chill for a couple of days. We staying at the Fairy Bay Hotel in a luxury sea view suite, I might add all for £60 per night bargain
  • Then its on the train again to Hoi An a Unesco World Heritage site for three nights at the Vinh Hung Hotel & Spa
  • Next it’s off to Hue  (pronounced hway) where we are staying in the Orchid Hotel for two nights
  • Then it’s an overnight sleeper train to Hanoi where we are staying for three nights at the Ha Noi Eternity Hotel with a day visiting Halong Bay

Finally here are some of the websites that I have used to put this trip together just click on the highlighted links

You can find more of the sites that I have used by checking out my Pearl Trees account, just click here Bob Rouse@ Pearl Trees . Keep a check on this from time to time for more additions and useful information for anyone planning a trip to Vietnam.

Finally please follow my blog if you are interested so you can keep up with the regular updates