A vibrant metropolis, SAIGON teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on cellphones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.
Start your day visiting two iconic architectural landmarks the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office built between 1877 and 1883 by renowned designer Gustav Eiffel. The cathedral still remains an active church with services each day and is favoured backdrop for Vietnamese wedding photographs.
From the cathedral, take a short stroll along Dong Khoi Street to the Opera House. From a bomb shelter to housing the parliamentary Lower House, the Opera House has had an interesting history. Restored in 1995 the Opera House has returned to its roots and is once again a theatre.
Next, visit the Reunification Palace, once a symbol of the South Vietnamese Government. It was here on 30 April 1975, that the war ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. See the war room, the banquet hall and the presidential office with the unusual gifts which have been received. In the afternoon continue on to the War Remnants Museum. Here, your guide will tell the story of the city’s darkest and most tragic hours during the Vietnam War. The museum contains displays of military aircraft, weaponry and many photographs – some that are quite graphic in nature.
Head to Cholon the city’s Chinatown and Thien Hau Pagoda which is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. With intricate friezes, carved tableaus and impressive incense coils make for some great photos.