Ho Chi Minh is best described as a concrete jungle with incredible historical significance to Vietnam. Formerly referred to as Saigon, the name of the city was changed when the North Vietnamese captured it marking the end of the war and the new government asserted their victory by renaming it after their revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh. While loyalists still revere the great leader, many locals still refer to the city as Saigon, a tribute to the tension still palpable in the city and country as a whole.
Chu Chi Tunnels
As the most important city in the Vietnam War, the most powerful attractions are undoubtedly remnants memorializing this period in the country’s history. The Chu Chi Tunnels are considered a top attraction by many visiting Vietnam and they don’t disappoint. The Viet Cong utilized these narrow tunnels against American Troops during the war, helping the guerilla warfare that largely contributed to their victory. Some tunnels have been widened so tourists can enter, and one section of the tunnel has been turned into a museum. This is a great activity, but not if you’ve got a tendency of claustrophobia.
Explore the city
As most of you will know, Ho Chi Minh is a city with a past that can be interesting to get into. There are city tours available, but those give you less freedom to stop whenever you want. If you decide to walk through the city by yourself, you’ll experience a city with a lot of energy. You’ll see a lot of people, motorbikes, local businesses and every year more foreign companies come to the developing city. Although it is not the cleanest city, Ho Chi Minh has an impressive buzz that is impossible to overlook.
When you’re tired of walking, but you’d love to have a different view of the city, head up to one of the rooftop bars. Some people prefer to visit the Saigon Skydeck ($20 though) for a 360 degree view of of the city. This is certainly a cool experience, giving you a better sense of the immense size of Ho Chi Minh with a view for miles in every direction. However, if you’re on a budget (or you just don’t like to spend $20 if you can do it for free) but you do have a somewhat neat outfit, there are quite a few sky bars with free entrance that also give you an amazing view.
Ho Chi Minh City is not for everyone, especially if you have visited Hanoi first, which is much smaller and feels easier to visit. Ho Chi Minh sprawls in all directions and there are crowds, pollution, and grey buildings to be seen everywhere. Still, it’s a good stop if you want to know more about the history of the country and the struggle between north and south.