I’m back! Over the next seven weeks I am going to share each Vietnam city I recently visited with you, starting with Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
Overall Vietnam was an exciting country with lots of history, culture and amazing food. The only downfall was the weather, I am not a summer person at the best of times and Vietnam was very hot and humid which made it quite uncomfortable and sticky.
So Ho Chi Minh… the city of motorbikes where there are 11 million people and 7.5 million motorbikes. Crossing the street on foot is a crazy experience, you just have to put your hand up and start walking and the bikes find their way around you without stopping. It’s the same for cars crossing at an intersection, there are barely any traffic lights so everyone weaves around each other.
There is a lot of war history in HCMC including the Cu Chi Tunnels and War Remnants Museum. The tunnels were about a two hours drive from HCMC and were used as a base for soldiers and weapons during the Vietnam War. On the way we had a walk through the rubber forest.
The Cu Chi Tunnels, when in use, were 250km long and had several floors and alleys. At the site we got to see a number of openings leading to the tunnel, spike traps that were used on the US army, and shot guns used during the war. We got to walk inside one of the tunnels which was 100 metres in length but I only made it to 40 metres. It was very hot and claustrophobic in there and I am proud of my 40 metres.
The War Remnant Museum told the story of the Vietnam War and the effect it is still having on the Vietnamese people today. There were stories, images, and memorabilia including bazookas, planes and battle tanks.
We also visited Notre Dame Cathedral which was built and influenced by the French, the Central Post Office and the Reunification Palace which used to house the South Vietnam President and was renamed to this following the Vietnam War.
The food and flavours we were introduced to were amazing. On our first night we did a street eats tour and enjoyed Vietnamese pizza, banh mi baguettes, fried pancakes, beef pho, snails, clams, embryo egg and mussels. The last four weren’t very appealing but I made sure I tried a bit of everything… when in Vietnam!
We also tried Vietnamese ice-cream at Kem Bach Dang. I had the coconut option which came with ice-cream in a coconut jar and local fruits. We also had our first taste of Vietnamese cold coffee – amazing! It is made of coffee, ice and condensed milk and is just what you need on those steaming Vietnam days.
There is one main tourist bar strip in Vietnam and it was conveniently a street back from our hotel. Duong Bui Vien is a lengthy strip of restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, hotels, hostels and rooftops. It’s where we spent every night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Next week I will take you to the Mekong Delta.