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The Tips For Travellers podcast helps you make the most of your precious vacation time and money with first-hand travel inspiration, advice and tips from travel expert, author, blogger and YouTuber Gary Bembridge.

Aug 18, 2014

Gary Bembridge of Tips for Travellers shares observations, tips and advice for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

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This show covers among other topics:

Observations

  • Fascinating and revealing city to visit especially for history lovers
  • Easy to see why it has been called "Pearl or Paris of the East" with broad avenues and  remarkable buildings from their French ruled.
  • People know of it for wrong reasons linked to Vietnam War.

History

French occupied and colonised in 1859 for about 100 years. Vietnamese struggle for independence started after WWII and led to battles with French ending in country being spilt into 2 at 17th Parralell in Geneva Accord in 1960s. With communist controlled north supported by Russia led by Ho Chi Minh and more western leaning south increasingly supported by USA by NGO Dinh Dien.

USA decided to see Vietnam as key to stopping spread of communism and entered war between North and South as North wanted to unite under their rule. Very violent and bloody war lasting two decades. USA pulled out support in 1973 but war carried on until North overan South culminating in tanks smashing through gates of presidential complex on 30 April 1975 and South unconditionally surrendering.

Vietnam is communist country with 1 party state. World's 2nd largest exporter of rice and coffee with high tech industry growing fast.

Safe country but has reputation of being corrupt.

Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in Vietnam but Hanoi in the North is the capital.

Vietnam has massive population close to 90 million (one of top 10 in world) - at least 9 million live in the city.

Getting there
Visa needed.
Large international airport eith new one being built opening in 2025
Rail terminal to many areas
Cruise - large ships dock at Phu My and smaller go right into Port Saigon

Best time to go
Tropical climate and gets very hot
Rainy May to Nov and Dry Dec to April (best time to go).

Getting Around
Millions of motorcycles - about 340000 cars and 3,5 million bikes
Developing a light rapid transit system
Taxis - lots

General Tips

  • Most of the tourist sights within walking distance in District 1, helpful as no Hop-on Hop-off bus.
  • Vietnamese Dong - $1 about 20,000 - most people refer to prices in dong without the 000s - many will take US$ including some  attractions.
  • Wi-fi  in most caf├ęs and restaurants - usually need password but they will provide.
  • Most attractions close between 1130 and 1300

Things to do

Reunification Hall
Previously called Independence Hall
Former South Vietnam President's complex of working and living

War Remnants Museum
Used to be called Museum of American War Crimes - opened in September 1975
Aim is researching and collecting evidence of war crimes and attributes.

Norte Dame Cathedral
Built with materials all from France in 1800s

Municipal Theatre / Opera House

City Hall with Ho Chi Minh Statute

Museum of Vietnamese History and Botanical Gardens

Ho Chi Minh Museum
Designed as museum but used as Governors Palace and then French High Commissioner Residence and office and later Supreme Court.

Bitexco Tower and Saigon Skyview

Shopping

  • Malls - many including Thuong Xa Tax
  • High end stores near City Hall
  • Ben Thanh Market

Further Afield

  • Dai Nam Tourist Park
  • Chi Chi Tunnels
  • Cochi Tunnel Complex