Vietnam Travel News
Post: 07-01-2016 09:31:49 AM - Views: 1240
With news that Air New Zealand will be flying to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in 2016 we take a look at some top travel tips for visiting this enchanting country.
Top reasons why you should visit Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Located in Southeastern Asia, Vietnam is bordered by the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkiin, China, Laos and Cambodia.
It is a vibrant country rich in history, overflowing with unspoilt landscapes, beautiful beaches, welcoming locals and some of the world's most most delectable cuisine.
TEN REASONS TO VISIT HO CHI MINH
1. Cheap eats
Ho Chi Minh City (also still called Saigon) is famous for its pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) and pork rolls. Often the best places are shops and stalls named after family members, such as "Aunty" or "Chi" (meaning sister) followed by a number representing their order in the family and, finally, their name. Though many chains, such as Pho24 and Pho 2000, do big business these days, you can't beat family-run outfits for the real deal.
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Image: Supplied
2. Scooter tours
Exploring the streets from the back seat of a Vespa is an exhilarating way to get a feel for a city with nearly 5 million motorbikes. To get your orientation fast, jump on an organised tour with an emphasis on food, nightlife, iconic sights or unusual attractions; a guide can help you discover the hot spots. Note that motorbike helmets are compulsory in Vietnam. For shorter day tours, try xotours.vn, or vietnamvespaadventures.com for longer excursions.
3. War Remnants Museum
Not for the squeamish, the War Remnants Museum documents the brutality of the Vietnam War and, although it has received criticism for its alleged propagandist tone, it remains one of the most visited museums in the country, attracting more than half a million visitors a year. Retired military vehicles such as "Huey" helicopters, attack bombers and even an M48 Patton tank dominate the front yard while, inside, a harrowing selection of text and photographic exhibits tell the story.
READMORE: Nha Rong Wharf - Ho Chi Minh Museum
4. Bonsai River Cruise
Though it's true the Saigon River has serious pollution issues, a Bonsai dinner cruise is still a unique experience. Watch the city lights at sunset while sipping a Tom Collins from the deck of a traditional 19th-century dragon boat, take in a show and enjoy a buffet meal in style. Try to pre-book and stretch your dollar for a more boutique cruise if funds permit.
The people of Vietnam are very welcoming. Image: Supplied
5. Fresh beer
Found on most street corners and in ramshackle bars, fresh beer, or "bia hoi", is Vietnam's answer to microbrewing. First introduced by the Czechs, it's free of preservatives and therefore best gulped down immediately. The standard is seriously variable, but it certainly won't hurt your wallet (expect to pay about 35¢ to 40¢ a glass), so trial and error is part of the fun. Look out for the ubiquitous hand-scrawled Bia Hoi signs.
6. Central Post Office and Notre-Dame cathedral
Designed and built by French architect Gustave Eiffel (yes, he designed another fairly famous building or two), the Gothic-styled Saigon Central Post Office began its life in 1886 and remains one of the country's most celebrated structures. Inside, beneath a long, domed roof, walls decorated with French colonial maps flank a portrait of Ho Chi Minh, while the elaborate tiled floors complete the refined look. Opposite, the neo-Romanesque Notre-Dame cathedral, built between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists, is equally impressive.
Vietnamese markets are a feast for the senses. Image: Supplied
7. Daring food
Fertilised duck eggs, fermented scorpion wine, deep-fried snake dishes: Vietnam is synonymous with cuisine to put hairs on your chest. Try to avoid restaurants prone to killing the snake in front of you (some diners like to feast on the still-beating heart). It's not kind to the snake and it won't increase virility. Reputable hotels can point you in the direction of a good restaurant with such creatures on the menu, or look out for glass bottles of snake wine known as "ruou thuoc" at most markets. Don't worry, the venom is neutralised by the ethanol.
8. Reunification Palace
Home of the president of South Vietnam during the "American War", as locals prefer to call the Vietnam War, this is the site where the first communist North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates on the morning of April 30, 1975, resulting in Saigon's official surrender. It is preserved almost exactly as it was in 1966, and you can look around at your leisure or take one of the free guided tours that depart every 15 minutes. (Open 7.30-11am and 1-4pm, Dinh Thong Nhat.)
READMORE: A Visit To Saigon’s Time Capsule
There isn't much you can't buy from a market here, and although haggling is an art form requiring practice, it's still easy enough to pick up a bargain. District 1's Ben Thanh Market is certainly the most famous — there are more than 3000 stalls — but prices can often be inflated for tourists. For a lesser-known alternative, District 1's Tan Dinh specialises in silks and clothing material, while Ben Thanh night market is popular for those who prefer bargain hunting free from the noon heat.
Equivalent to Bangkok's famed Khao San Road, Pham Ngu Lao Street is HCMC's backpacker district, and it's where the revelry goes on long into the night. If you're looking for a more urbane option, try a rooftop bar hop of three of the city's most famous hotels, the Rex, Caravelle and Majestic. Yes, drinks are nosebleed expensive, but there's a colourful history and impressive view from each. For a refined colonial feel, Temple Club serves up a mean gin and tonic in a former temple guesthouse, while the Dong Khoi area is home to several live-music venues and more upmarket bars. anyarena.com.
From: Stuff News
Have you been to Vietnam? Share your top travel tips in comments below.