Sights, Ho Chi Minh City
If you want to go to the Mekong Delta..........
I would only do one tour.
I was very disappointed with the Delta. It was a lot more built up than I expected, wasn't at all like the postcards. I would say that it depends on what you have seen & done previously in Asia whether you visit here or not!
THE MARKETS ARE ALL BUT FINISHED BY THE TIME YOU ARRIVE
you need to be there from 5 - 9am in the morning, no way of doing this on a bus tour from Ho Chi Minh city for the day.
If you do go and want to see the markets, it would be best to stay overnight so you can get an early start in the morning to see them.
We booked a tour to the Mekong Delta through a local Travel Agent. The tour was great, a good English speaking guide, a modern bus and a great destination. Lunch and other refreshments ( fresh fruits and tea) were included. Details of the Travel Agent are:
71 C Dong Khoi Street
District 1 HCMC
(84-8) 8 230611
The tour cost was US $18 per adult. I have also included the Cu Chi Tunnels brochure US $13
This tip goes for any city in Vietnam, try and go for a tour out in the countryside as this is where you see villages and people getting on with their daily lives......the further out....the better.
Some sights I saw were
* Animals on motorbikes..........
* Water buffaloes & carts in the villages.........
* I saw a live oxen strapped to a back of a motorbike..........
* I saw a Coffin strapped to the back of a motorbike......
* Six people on a bike..... the record so far seen, and I doubt if they could fit any more.....
* villagers working in the Rice Paddies....
* A vietnamese burial service taking place....
Plus, much, much more......
Unusual shaped hay stacks....
Temples can be found everywhere in Vietnam cities. Before I get to know that Vietnamese language was formalize quite recent, I have the assumption that these were all Chinese temples.
P/s: Any temples that order than 50 years will have Chinese name. Vietnamese were using complex-Chinese prior to Vietnamese language come into existence.
Fondest memory: The Historical Museum in Ho Chi Minh City was built in 1929 and displayed ancient Asian art during that time. Through the different exhibits that can be seen, the museum portrays Vietnam's history and also antiques. There are also botanical gardens and a zoo within the site of the museum.
In the park across the street from Pham Ngu Lao you may be approached by a friendly man with a little book offering to show you around. These independant entrepreneurs offer a great way to see the city and it's surrounding sites without the limitations of a group tour. They generally charge more for their services than group tours, but their fees are flexible, reasonable, and worth it. So thumb through the testimonials in his little book, and give him a try. You won't be disappointed.
Here are two of these guides that I met in HCMC:
Mr. Tung : firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Tho : email@example.com
Send a message, meet up, and decide for yourself. I think you'll have a great time!
Ho Chi Minh City has the benefit of being rather compact, so you can take a walk around the city to see the most central sights. All it takes is a morning/afternoon, good walking shoes and carefulness when crossing the street. We walked to: Saigon river, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office, The National Theatre, the City Hall and the Ben Thanh market, all within walking distance from our hotel a stone throw from Saigon river.
When crossing the streets, be careful! Sometimes it may feel impossible to cross, as the traffic seems to be relentless. However, there are tricks and that's to do what the locals do: Walk slowly but in an even pace when crossing where motorbikes drive. Buses and lorries won't be able to stop for you so wait until you can cross safe from them, the motorbikes will be able to yield as long as they know where you are going (so avoid sudden movements). Also, if they see you are not a local, they are likely to pay more attention.
My wife and I just returned from a trip to Vietnam having spent 5 days with a wonderful personal guide. The stories of inferior guides who are dishonest and overcharge are rampant...luckily this was not our experience.
Our guide was Jason of Jason Rock Star tours...an American name given to his one-man operation. He is enthusiastic, knowledage and charming. Every aspect of our tour was like being in the front row of a concert versus being in the rear balcony. He takes you places the large bus tours could never go. All of our questions wer answered, our itinerary was adaptable, not rigid like the big groups.
There are certainly less expensive guides in Vietnam and many who are unscrupulous. For a few extra dollars, you'll have the best trip ever. I've had guides in Turkey, Japan, Europe and the U.S.---he's the very best.
We paid $700 for 2 people, 5 days, 4 nights. This included all entrance fees, 5-star hotel, breakfast buffet and lunch every day. Private boats, private van/driver with dozens of photos taken by Jason, photo albms and a DVD of our trip put together by him. Also--airpot pick- up and drop-off and the memories of a lifetime.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fondest memory: Our guide...Jason
Formerly called Cape St. Jacques by the French. This coastal resort city about (128Km) two hours drive south-east of Saigon. Famous of many seafood restaurants and fine beaches.
Fondest memory: There are four main beach areas, the Front Beach, the Back Beach, Bai Dau and Bai Dua. While the Front Beach is more expensive than the rest, Bai Dau not only has the cheapest guest houses, but is also the most relaxing part, located three km from the town center.
Enjoy the spectacular sunrises and sunsets in the City on both the 'Front Beach' (which faces west) and the 'Back Beach' (which faces east.)
Favorite thing: You'll most certainly want to send postcards home to friends and family while in HCMC. You can find the Buu Dien (post office) at 2 Cong Xa Paris, next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. It's also one of the city's finest examples of French Colonial Architecture.
Fondest memory: One of the many fond memories I have of Ho Chi Minh City is a side trip we took to the Mekong Delta. Besides the fact that our driver had a very odd and very annoying attachment to the horn, we enjoyed a guided tour by a young Vietnamese woman, quite knowledgable in Vietnamese history of the area. I wanted to get her picture and she posed a glamour shot for me, without my asking, letting her long hair down. Stupid me forgot the flash on the last shot on the roll..........
Favorite thing: There is plenty to do while in HCMC (Saigon). Though the city offers much in the way of entertainment & even some historical sites you should still try to get out of the city limits for a visit to Tay Ninh and the Cao Dai temples. It's a great day trip!
Favorite thing: There are a number of english speaking clubs in the city where the Vietnamese get together and practice english. My friend brought me to the one at his school and I chatted for awhile. Later, the organizers got me up on stage for 5 minutes so that I could talk to a crowd of 500 people. Tons of fun.
Favorite thing: You can find almost anything you're looking to buy here. Flowers, fruit, beef, poultry, coffee, pottery, clothes, beauty supplies, etc. ... just don't forget to bargain!
Favorite thing: BUDDIST PAGODA OF THE 18TH CENTURY, THE CHUA VINH NGHIEM...AND ALSO THE CATHEDRAL IS VERY INTERESTING