Visit Saigon, Vietnam
Exploring Saigon, the bustling and vibrant hub of Southern Vietnam, will always yield a sort of “East meets West” vibe as you meander through the chaotically organized streets and markets flooded with life.
See Saigon like a local
Weaving in and out of the streets, you’ll stop at some local haunts along the way. Finding the best seafood stall or best pancake house, you’ll be able to eat alongside local families and gossiping friends. The evening will finish with an interesting journey though narrow alleys and staircases to one of Saigon’s hidden coffee bars. Acoustic music, sometimes in candlelight, provides an intimate setting to enjoy a nightcap.
Stroll the boulevards of District One
It’s also where you’ll find some of the key sites. The Saigon Opera House is a lavish display of French colonial architecture. Book the popular A O show to see traditional music, acrobatics and dance tell the story of rural Vietnamese adapting to urban development. Nearby is the Central Post Office, a well-preserved lemon yellow building designed by Gustave Eiffel. Pop inside and you’ll find huge hand-painted maps that depict Saigon in 1892.
Dine overlooking Saigon in Bitexco tower
Predominately office space, floors 49-51 are open to visitors. The Skydeck is a viewing platform on the 49th floor with 360 degree views from the floor to ceiling windows. There’s a relaxed coffee shop with seating lined up facing the view. On the floor above is EON 51, a fine dining restaurant serving Asian and Western food, but before you eat you could watch the sunset from the EON Helibar, with a team of expert mixologists, the cocktails here come recommended.
Visit the War Remnants Museum
Legendary war photographer Tim Page has curated a captivating exhibition, Requiem, which shows the work of war photographers of the era - many of whom were killed in action. There is also a more upbeat display of posters and photos of anti-war movements around the world.
Outside, the streets are lined with street hawkers and small authentic restaurants selling dishes with exotic ingredients including dried seahorse and salted duck eggs. Step away from the bustle into one of the many temples and you’ll find a little pocket of calm. The most revered is the Thian Hau Pagoda, built to worship the goddess of the ocean – particularly important to a community of traders who arrived by sea.
Best time to visit Saigon
Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit
The lunar new year, known as Tet, tends to fall in late January or early February. Across Vietnam homes are decorated with strings of lights and flags. Gifts are given and homes are filled with flowers and small potted trees. Saigon seems to turn yellow - considered a lucky colour to welcome the new year. Travel can be busy during this time and most restaurants and shops close.
The 2nd September each year marks the Vietnam Declaration of Independence from France in 1945. Saigon is decked in thousands of Vietnam flags as locals enjoy the public holiday. An impressive firework display is set off over the city.
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