Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City - page 2
Within the Can Gio Mangrove Reserve, Vam Sat Salt-Marsh Forest Ecological Tourist Zone is located within a section of forest between the Vam Sat and Long Tau Rivers that was destroyed during the Vietnam War, now regrown and protected as a wilderness park. Visitors here can explore Bat Swamp to fish for crab or spot for flying foxes hanging from the tree branches, and there’s a crocodile farm where you can take a boat tour and toss fish treats to the hungry reptiles. A 50-foot-tall wildlife observation tower offers a great vantage point for birdwatching or taking panoramic pictures of the marsh wilderness, and at Monkey Island you can stroll island trails among thousands of monkeys.
You can get first-hand experience with authentic Vietnamese cooking at the Vietnam Cookery Center. Started in 1999, it is the country’s first professional cooking center offering lessons to both tourists and professional chefs, and it’s located in a French Colonial-era building on Dong Khoi, at the heart of the city. Morning classes start with a visit to the open-air Ben Thanh Market with the chef-instructor to learn about local produce and help select the ingredients for the day’s menu. The cooking lessons take about 3 hours, during which you can learn to create classic Vietnamese dishes like fresh spring rolls, caramel pork in a clay pot, lotus-stem salad, and much more, and then you can sit down with your classmates to share the meal you created together.
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is a sophisticated city of more than seven million people, making it the largest city in Vietnam.
Larger cruise ships will dock at Phu My, a port on the South China Sea, about 2.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City. Smaller and mid-size ships that are able to navigate the Saigon River dock much closer to the city. Many ships will provide shuttles from either port into the centre of the city.
Kick off your day with a visit to Reunification Hall, once the presidential palace of South Vietnam. Take a tour of this somewhat eerie building that has been left mostly untouched since the 1960s. From there, move on to the War Remnants Museum, whose moving and sometimes disturbing exhibits share the story of the Vietnam War from a distinctly Communist perspective.
Next, head to the Ben Thanh Market, a bustling market that dates back to 1914. Scan the stalls for paintings, porcelain and jewelry before grabbing a late lunch.
There are many Cao Dai temples around southern Vietnam but none that compare to this. This stunning example is the most impressive in all senses. Built over a 20-year period and completed in 1956, it is the original...and the best.
Like the Cao Dai religion itself, the building's architecture marries eastern and western influences. The temple is part-cathedral, part-pagoda, part-mosque, and part-fairytale. Unusual pastel colors are embellished with gold and polished glass, and outside the building is guarded by ornate brightly-colored dragons that are as much fantasy as fearsome. The interior is equally if not more striking than outside. Swirling Rococo design is complemented by various statues of gods - Jesus Christ, Brahman, Buddha - standing side by side; a vision of peaceful harmony in a once war-torn area.
With nearly 70 floors, this towering modern glass and metal structure is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City and the third tallest in Vietnam. While the majority of Bitexco Financial Tower is dedicated business and commercial use, it’s also home to the city’ first heli-pad, a world-class restaurant and an observation deck that offers up some of the most impressive views of the city.
Travelers can purchase tickets to the skydeck, or hop aboard the high-speed elevator to the 50th and 52nd floor, where a bar and coffee shop showcase 360-degree spectacular views of city streets, rivers, and Ho Chi Minh architecture—free of charge—to those willing to buy a beverage as they relax and unwind.
Travelers can enter into this charming 19th-century Chinese-style Buddhist pagoda via an ornate gatehouse, which leads the way to an impressive courtyard and several altars that make up one of Ho Chi Minh’s most popular pagodas.
Visitors will find brilliantly colored artwork that pays homage to Thien Hau and Manjusri decorating the altars and hallways of Quan Am. And while travelers agree the traditional pagoda is the main attraction, a nearby garden complete with quiet reflecting pond, rocky landscapes and a covered pavilion offers an equally impressive opportunity to explore.
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