A visit to Vietnam's southern city of Ho Chi Minh City (also still referred to as Saigon) gives a perfect opportunity to encounter the memories of war, French colonial architecture and exotic food.
Here are just a few of the fun and interesting things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:
Ho Chi Minh City is appreciated for its cheap eats with pork rolls and pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) particularly popular dishes. Even though there are the chains like Pho24, the more authentic places are the small family-run shops and stalls that offer a great menu at the very affordable prices.
A city tour of Ho Chi Minh City on the back of a scooter is certain to create a very exhilarating time and get to really see the city from the busy and hectic roads. An organised scooter tour is best experienced when combined with not only touring the city, but also to see iconic sights, nightlife and food. Also, it is important to remember that helmets are mandatory in Vietnam.
Bonsai river cruise
Though the Saigon River has its issues with pollution, a Bonsai River Cruise makes it possible to escape the bustle of the city. The Bonsai is a fully restored 19th century Chinese dragon boat that lets guests enjoy a buffet meal in style, take in a show, or relax on the deck to admire the city lights in the night-time.
Bia Hoi is Vietnam's answer to fresh beer micro-brewing and easily found in ramshackle bars and on most street corners. The quality of the brew is seriously variable, but it is very cheap to trial with a glass costing only $0.35-$0.40. Just look for the hand-scrawled Bia Hoi signs that are common throughout the tourist districts.
A late-night spa/pedicure session is possible in plenty of places throughout Ho Chi Minh City, although the Pham Ngu Lao area is quite popular for tourists on the Vietnam private tour in search of a little pampering. Many of the pedicure and manicure shops are open until late in the evening. Basic treatments or a massage is relatively cheap and costs in the region of $6.
Deep-fried snake dishes, fermented scorpion wine and fertilised duck eggs, Vietnam has its fair share of daring and exotic food to taste. Travellers can ask one of the reputable hotels or guest houses for directions to a descent quality restaurant that serves the more inspired menus. Also, the "ruou thuoc" or bottles of snake wine is available at most of the local day and night markets.
The markets in Ho Chi Minh City give tourists a great authentic shopping experience to buy nearly everything that could possibly be needed. The most famous in the region is Ben Thanh Market in District 1. This market has about 3000 stalls selling everything under the sun – but prices can be a little inflated for tourists. It can benefit to learn the art of haggling to pick up the best bargains. Alternatively, the Tan Dinh market is lesser-known and concentrates on clothing materials like silk.
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