Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. The locals still call the city by its previous name before the unification of the country under the Communist party, but its marked on maps and referred to internationally as HCMC.
What can you see in Saigon in a day, you ask? Here are a few tips!
You’ll know about phò, the beef noodle soup to die for. That’s your first port of call! The most famous place to eat (though NOT the best) is right across from the Ben Thanh Market, the place where the former President Bill Clinton ate during an official visit to Vietnam. Phò 2000 is an inexpensive and standard choice for phò, expect to pay around 60.000VND (approx. AU$4.00) for the large bowl, which by the way is huuuuuge.
It’s located above The Coffeehouse, look for this sign:
Another place to try is Phò Hôà (Pasteur), located on Pasteur Street – you might need to get a cab to take you there. BEST BOWL OF SOUP I HAVE EVER EATEN, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD! Phò Bô Dâc Biet (Special Beef) is the way to go, you will have as many mint leaves to pick from the fresh bunch laid out on the table and the bean sprouts are served to you warm.
Next, you can grab a bánh mì, the traditional pork roll. Any street vendor will give you the tasty joys of a pork roll – though they will differ greatly. The typical ingredients are: lard (used in place of butter); pâté (liver spread); pork slice; shredded pork; barbecue pork slices; grated carrot and cucumber; a sprig of coriander; and a dash of soy sauce. The bread should be crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!
Serve either of these alongside some fresh spring rolls (prawn or pork, either of them are great). Again, the streent vendors will have the best fare. However, if you head into Ben Thanh Market, you will find a fantastic choice of rolls, usually at around 10.000VND per roll (including the dipping sauce).
For a sugary hit, look for drink stands with wild coloured jelly. This is the three-color bean drink, made of a variety of grass jellies and mung beans and mixed with evaporated milk and crushed ice. I paid 20.000 for a glass, well worth it!
By now you’ve eaten as much as your tummy can handle – take a stroll around the city to help digest it all.
First stop, the Opera House – a replica of the original built in Hanoi. Located at the end of Le Loi Street, it’s a great place to see a cultural show (ÀÔ’ Show), much like a Vietnamese Cirque du Soleil.
Head up the street and you’ll pass The Old Post Office and Le Nôtre Dame Cathedral. The Reunification Hall is not a marvellous building, but it is definitely an important one. You’ll be able to take a quick walk over to the Museum.
You could brave it and hire a motorbike to drive around the city. A quick way to get around, but be careful, there are so many other motorbikes on the road and friendly fun on a motorised vehicle could turn into a cold blooded nightmare should anything go wrong.