Planning a weekend getaway? Check out Ho Chi Minh City. Our editor was sent on an exciting and enriching trip to HCMC here are some of the things you can add to your itinerary!
Ho Chi Minh City is now the most populated city in Vietnam. Modern office skyscrapers, amidst Oriental style pagodas and food stalls along the street, create a dynamic urban area in a very special sense.
Getting there by Tigerair
There are over 15 flights to HCMC each day! The last time we checked, Tigerair’s all in return flights is only from SGD$89! Since its only a 2 hours flight, we got on, wolfed down the Nasi Lemak with Chicken and got off after a short nap!. This iconic dish is served with tender pieces of chicken, traditional sambal sauce and complemented with fragrant coconut rice.
To check out the flights http://www.tigerair.com/
Staying at the Hotel des Arts Saigon MGallery Collection
The hotel is conveniently located in the city centre, and only 2 minutes away from the main tourist attractions, popular bars, local cafes, shopping centres and entertainment complexes. 5-minute stroll of Diamond Plaza and Ho Chi Minh City Notre Dame Cathedral.
This hotel includes 2 restaurants, 3 bars/lounges, and an outdoor swimming pool. The views from the pool on the top floor are one of the must-sees that HCMC has to offer visitors.
Don’t miss the glass bridge connecting the hotel to next building, also owned by the same owner. (It’s pretty frightening of you are afraid of heights)
Rooms are equipped with Plasma TVs with satellite channels, and all 168 rooms feature free WiFi, coffee/tea makers, and free bottled water. Dining in is an option with 24-hour room service, and minibars provide refreshments.
You will be spoilt for choice in terms of dining at this hotel as there are 2 restaurants serving breakfast, lunch and dinner where you will find great menu choices and a nice spot to eat during the day. We had our sumptuous dinner at the Saigon Kitchen. The all-day dining restaurant offers a gourmet breakfast buffet, an international lunch buffet highlighting Vietnamese cuisine and “à la carte” options featuring local and international dishes.
And while you are there, don’t forget to pamper yourself at the Le Spa des Artistes with luxurious spa treatments!
HOTEL DES ARTS SAIGON:
From Tan Son Nhat International Airport, head towards Truong Son Street, turn left on Hoang Van Thu Street and make a right onto Nguyen Van Troi Street. Continue for 2.5km to Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, turn left after 2km to Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street and continue for another 1km. Hotel des Arts Saigon will be on your left, next to Centec Tower
For booking: http://www.accorhotels.com
What to see?
We picked 3 attractions at HCMC that you must see!
The iconic Reunification Palace made its name in global history when in 1975 a tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate – thus signifying the end of the Vietnam War. This image is one of the most famous pictures depicting the Reunification Palace which has seen a rich and varied history and once served as the base of the US-backed Vietnamese General Ngo Dinh Diem during the Vietnam War, until his assassination in 1963.
The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975 with two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds. Originally the site of the Nordom Palace also known as the Governor’s Palace its first role was as a home and workplace for the then French Governor of Cochinchina. The Reunification Palace is a landmark not to be missed by any tourist visiting Ho Chi Minh City. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the palace hides secret rooms, antique furniture and a command bunker within its eerie corridors. The Reunification Palace is still in use to host occasions including APEC summits and national events of significant importance.
The Reunification Palace is a five-storey building with the basement housing a warren of tunnels, a war room and telecommunications centre. The war command room still has maps on its walls and period telecommunications equipment on display, whilst adjoining basement rooms feature war propaganda materials. Other areas of interest are the third floor featuring a card playing room, a fourth floor which once had a casino and was used for entertaining guests and a rooftop terrace with a heliport.
The Reunification Palace entered the world history books in 1975 when a Vietnamese Air Force pilot (who was also a communist spy) flew an aircraft over the palace with an attempt to bomb it. Although no real damage was caused this was a significant step towards the fall of Saigon and the ending of the Vietnamese War.
The Reunification Palace is open from 07:30-12:00 then 13:00-16:00. Tickets are purchased at the main gate and visitors will be checked for security reasons. Free guided tours are available in English, French, Japanese and Chinese
Notre Dame Cathedral
In a quiet corner of bustling Ho Chi Minh City stands Notre Dame Cathedral, the one remaining stronghold of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam.
Built in the late 1880s by French colonists, it was formerly called Saigon Church. The name Notre Dame was given after the installation of the statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’ in 1959. In 1962, the Vatican conferred the Cathedral status as a basilica and gave it the official name of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.
Made from red bricks imported from France, the neo-Romanesque structure is 60 metres tall and has two towers containing six bronze bells. In front of the Cathedral stands a statue of the Virgin Mary, made in Rome from Italian marble, which was reputed to have shed tears in 2005.
Notre Dame Cathedral is a working religious place where masses are held every Sunday.
Opening Hours: Paris Square, District 1
Location: Paris Square, District 1
Vespa Tour Adventures (Not To Be Missed!)
We loved this part of the trip! Sitting on a Vespa bike, the Vespa tour of modern-day Ho Chi Minh City will give you a view of the city as they zipped through the bustling city of Saigon.
Ride through the Chinese district of Saigon, stop to see a sweet smelling flower market, & visit a breathetaking yet hidden Buddhist pagoda. See the must-see landmarks such as the famous Saigon Opera House & Post Office which were designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Book your Vespa Tour here! http://vespaadventures.com
Are you tempted yet? Stay tuned as we share more about this beautiful city in other post!