The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia. It designed by Gustave Eiffel and built between 1886 and 1891. Located next door to Notre Dame Cathedral, the two cultural sites can be visited together and offers visitors a chance to imagine life in Vietnam during the times of the Indochinese Empire. Painted onto walls overhead are two maps of the region; one of them showing the telegraph lines that crisscross Vietnam and Cambodia and the other displaying a map of the Saigon region in 1892.The Post Office offers all kinds of traditional postal services like mailing, selling postcards or stamps. Foreign money exchange is also available.
Constructed between 1863 and 1880 by the French colonists, following their conquest of the city, the building reaches a height of up to 60m. The name Notre-Dame Cathedral was given after Bishop Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install the statue of Peaceful Notre Dame, made with granite from Rome, in 1959. In 1962, Vatican anointed it as Saigon Chief Cathedral conferred it basilique. Since this time, this cathedral is called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. The cathedral’s address is No. 1 Cong truong Cong xa Paris St., right at the intersection of Pham Ngoc Thach St, Le Duan St and Cong xa Paris St.
Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Shops close late afternoon with shopping best done in the morning before the heat of the day hits. Besides, Ben Thanh is firstly well-known as the place for real Vietnamese food. There a number of vendors and food stalls in the market food section that offers guests dishes freshly made to the order. Here, one can taste various kinds of local dishes like banh xeo, banh cuon, banh beo, cha gio, hu tiu… In the evening, while all stalls inside the market are closed, sidewalk restaurants around the market open and make it extraordinary lively area.
The Opera House in Ho Chi Minh is an elegant, colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in District 1, very close to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the classic Central Post Office. The restored three-storey 800-seat Opera House was built in 1897 and is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays. Performances are advertised around the building and information can be found in the state-operated tourist information centre Saigontravel close by.
Reunification Palace has stayed in the mind of many generations of not only Vietnamese but also foreigners. It is known as the famous historical witness which passed through the two fierce wars against the French and American colonists. The palace was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. Its current address is at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Reunification Palace’s architecture is a blend of traditional ritual and modern architecture, typical of the 60s’. You can go inside and have an interesting tour of the premises with a guide who will take you into the Presidential rooms and will show you the rooms in the basement from where the War was run by the Americans and South Vietnamese.
It is the only Hindu temple that is still open in the city and is considered sacred by Hindu and non-Hindu Vietnamese. The temple is rumoured to have miraculous powers giving luck and wealth to those who worship within its walls. Built at the end of the 19th century in honour of Mariamman the Hindu Goddess of strength, the temple’s first purpose was as a place of worship for the Chettiar community. The centre piece at the altar in the heart of the temple is a statue of the Goddess Mariamman with two Hindu guardian deities next to her and two lingams in front. It located at 45 Truong Dinh Street in District 1.
Emperor Jade Pagoda, also known as Tortoise Pagoda, is one of the five most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh City. Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practiced widely in Vietnam. Emperor Jade Pagoda is a living and working shrine very much in use by the locals who come here to prayer or make votive offerings of flowers, and light candles and joss sticks. There is an overcrowded tortoise pond in front of the temple grounds and feeding the animals is considered part of the merit-making, temple-going rituals.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Cholon is Vietnam’s largest Chinatown with roots dating back to 1778; it’s also a place of great historical and cultural importance. The area today is a popular site for those on the tourist trail and also attracts many Taiwanese and Chinese visitors. Cholon is an interesting place to see classical Chinese architecture reminiscent of years gone by with plenty of Chinese restaurants.
The War Remnants Museum is located at 28 Vo Van Tan St, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. Operated by the government, the museum was opened in September 1975 as “The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government”, focusing on exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. The museum functions as a place to display devastation of the war between 2 countries from 1961 to 1975. It comprises several buildings storing military equipment, as well as disturbing photographs about the traumatizing consequences of Agent Orange, napalm and phosphorus bombs.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda inherits both a modern touch of Japanese architectural style and inspiration from traditional Vietnamese structure, which makes its beauty strong, stable and also majestic. It was the first pagoda in Vietnam with Vietnamese traditional architectural style but built with concrete. Special occasions like Lunar New Year or 15th of each month are when the pagoda most crowded with people visiting to pray for luck, happiness and safe to themselves and their families. Also, tourists coming at these times may observe traditional activities of Buddhist such as giving away lucky-money as good buds for the start of a new year.
Giac Lam is one of the oldest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. Originally, it was built by Ly Thuy Long – a native Minh Huong, in 1744, as a gathering place during Lunar New Year. The new-built temple was like a scenic lookout overlooking Gia Dinh Market while the area was still undeveloped and quite like a jungle.
Founded more than 100 years ago, Ho Chi Minh City Zoo and Botanical Gardens (aka Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens) are listed as one of the oldest zoos in the world, opened in 1865 by French botanist JB Louis Pierre. There are currently more than 550 animals exhibited in the zoo and more than 1,830 trees and 260 plant species in the botanical gardens with some dating back over 100 years. The zoo exhibits a diverse range of animals including monkeys, tigers, hippos, lions, elephants; turtles and snakes. There are also rarer animals such as the white tiger that are being displayed for the first time ever in Vietnam.
This pagoda, the largest in Saigon, was built in 1956 to contain fragments of bone from The Buddha – Xa Loi means “sacred bones”. The pagoda was a centre of political protest against the regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem and in August 1963 it hit headlines around the world when troops attacked monks and nuns barricaded inside at the start of a campaign that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Buddhists around the country.
Suoi Tien Theme Park is located about 40 minutes from downtown Ho Chi Minh City, in Thu Duc district. Several years ago, this was an uninhabited land which had a natural stream flowing across endemic forest and natural scenery. It’s no wonder that Vietnamese culture is the main theme of Suoi Tien entertainment. The park is famous for its Oriental architecture, with the concept based on oriental beliefs. This concept is shown by all the statues, buildings and games in the park.
Binh Quoi Village gives a completely relaxing experience. These sites are endowed with valuable airy premises and fresh atmosphere, thanks to the Thanh Da Peninsula where sit the two villages. Tourists can find themselves drowned in the charming beauty of a bygone Mekong Delta, with gigs, a blue canal, dinghies, a rough monkey bridge and thatched cottages among lush water coconut trees.
The first Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine (FITO): Nearly 3,000 items relevant to traditional Vietnamese medicine dating back to the Stone Age. Implements used to prepare traditional medicine: knives, grinders, mortars and pestles, pots and jars. Objects found in a traditional pharmacy: scale, cabinet, advertising board, printing mold, spirit gourd, tea pot, bowl, lime pot and other ceramic articles. Books and documents on traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Equipped with modern audio-visual technology, the museum regularly screens “A Century of Health Care Experiences”, a documentary film about the history of Vietnam’s traditional medicine.
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