In my mind, Vietnam continues to be associated with two images : one – the severe and bloody Vietnam war with its atrocities and the heroic struggle of the commoners under Ho Chi Minh and second – the place where the celluloid legend Rambo as well as protagonist of so many action novels has got developed. Hence when I was there on an official tour, I took out some time to walk around the Ho Chi Minh City (the erstwhile Saigon).
The usual place to stay at Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the Nyugen Hue Boulevard which has a string of hotels all around. This is the city centre and the most prominent structure of this place is the so called “Reunification Palace” (Dinh Doc Lap) with the statue of Ho Chi Minh in the garden in front of it.
People's Committee Building (Erstwhile Hotel De Ville) : The French architecture is clearly visible in this building which was built in 1909.
A few steps from this place takes us to the opera house – another major landmark of this area
This place has boulevard in front of it, with a long walkway which is an open gallery of pictures of the Vietnam War and an interesting looking fountain
There are a few more nice tourist spots which are within a walking distance. I walked down the Dong khoi street and landed up at a crossing which houses the Central Post Office. This is a building which was designed by Gustave Eiffel (no prizes for guessing who he was) and is still operational. In the inside, we can see huge dome like structure with the modern “glass-and-steel” architecture of France.
This place has also several shops inside selling small curios, mementos and generally tourist stuffs and is a nice place to be. The old telegraph offices, which have some amazing woodworks on the outside, are converted into quaint looking telephone booths.
Just beside this, there is the Notre Dame Cathedral of Vietnam. I was rather taken aback when I heard this but a quick check on the internet revealed that there are several Notre Dame Cathedrals around the world. This one is a small but worthy cousin of the more illustrated one in Paris.
No place feels visited unless we visit the local market and buy small local stuffs (which, in hindsight, we regret buying). In HCMC, there are many small shops on the pavements selling small mementos. For serious buyers, a visit to their Ben Thanh Market is a must which sells local handicrafts and souvenirs.
This is also the place to be for trying out some local cuisine. The seafood that they serve is to die for.
All in all, a short and memorable walk and a sumptuous dinner to end it.