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Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, was also the capital of the short-lived South Vietnamese Government until the Americans withdrew from the country in 1975. Ho Chi Minh City is still referred to as Saigon by its inhabitants.
This is a fast-paced city, filled to almost overflowing with mopeds buzzing around every minute of the day, and most of the night. The city is as chaotic as it is exciting and energetic. There are still remnants of the war to be seen, and some amazing French Colonial architecture has survived. Ho Chi Minh City is also the gateway into the rest of Southern Vietnam; it is worth spending a day or two in this high energy city to feel a very different side to VietnamThe Reunification Palace, formerly the Presidential Palace, was the seat of power for the South Vietnamese Government during the war with America. Now open as a museum, the Reunification Palace has been kept exactly how it was during that fateful day back in 1975 when the city fell to the northern forces. It allows a peek into an important episode of world history, and is well worth a look.
 
The War Remnants Museum is definitely the best museum in Vietnam, and one that will certainly open your eyes to the horrors of war. The photographs and some exhibits of the atrocities that occurred are a little squeamish-making, but it is still well worth bearing witness. Exhibits include some captured American military hardware in the courtyard and an excellent exhibition centring on the journalists who reported on the war for the world’s media. There is some propaganda but overall we feel it is well balanced.Notre Dame Cathedral, constructed back in the 1860’s by the then French colonial government, is red brick with twin spires, based on the original in Paris. The cathedral is located in the downtown area, and still holds services today - so can only be visited when they are not on. There are many other examples of French colonial architecture here, including the old Post Office - a truly grand building, and well worth seeing.
 
The Cu Chi Tunnels  form part of an immense network of underground tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong as supply routes during the war, particularly during the Tet Offensive in 1968. They measure roughly over seventy-five kilometres in length and have been preserved by the Vietnamese Government. They are a very popular attraction - and as a result the tunnels have had to have been enlarged so we foreign tourists can fit into them! But nevertheless, they are still quite snug in some spots. This tour certainly demonstrates the tremendous suffering that the North Vietnamese endured to win the war.
 
Ben Thanh Market is located in central Ho Chi Minh, and is the largest in the city with several hundred stalls selling everything from tacky souvenirs for tourists to more regular items for the locals, including fresh fish, meat, flowers and everyday items. It’s an interesting market to visit and to experience the hustle and bustle of everyday life here.

AT A GLANCE

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