The Discoverer
The Discoverer
Ho Chi Minh City
Edition 123   |   4:12 read time
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | @masa_zip
Less than 50 years removed from the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh City is the bustling metropolis you never knew you needed to visit. Often shortened to HCMC, Vietnam’s largest city absolutely buzzes with energy night and day while also offering its own kind of tranquility in the most unexpected of places: tiny cafés, secret gardens. If you can keep up with it, you just might discover your favorite new spot.
Fun Fact:
Before it was known as Saigon, HCMC was also called Prey Nokor ("Forest City"), Preah Reach Nokor ("Royal City"), and Gia Dinh.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | tronle_sg
January — February
There’s no getting around the fact that Ho Chi Minh City tends to be hot and humid, but those who don’t mind a little moisture in the air will thrive. It’s relatively dry in the beginning of the year, which also happens to be when the Tết Festival (read: Lunar New Year) takes place. Bring shorts and get ready for a party.
#cuchitunnels | @simon.superficial
Tunnel Vision
The Vietnam War's legacy can be felt throughout the city formerly known as Saigon, but there are few places more compelling than the Củ Chi tunnels. Part of a vast underground complex running beneath the country, this particular 75-mile-long labyrinth was used as a base of operations, supply route, and hiding place by the Viet Cong. Claustrophobes may want to think twice before entering, but anyone else — and history buffs in particular — will be endlessly fascinated.
Cao Dai Temple, Vietnam | @_raesola_
Hang by a Thread
Even if you've been to a puppet show before, you've probably never experienced anything quite like the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater. Harking back to a tradition in which puppeteers put on shows in the waist-deep water of rice paddies, it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to learn about Vietnam’s rich history. The language barrier may be a stumbling block for some, but the highly visual nature of the dinner-theater show — not to mention its beautiful music — assures that little will be lost in translation. If puppets aren’t your thing but you’re still looking to be culturally enriched, head to Cao Dai Temple. It's beautiful and serene, with tributes to everyone from Jesus and Muhammad to Joan of Arc and Julius Caesar inside.
Suối Tiên Amusement Park | @astridadventurer
The Fairy Stream
There’s unique, and then there’s Suối Tiên — a Buddhist waterpark featuring sculptures of dragons and fish, hundreds of live alligators, and a misleading attraction called Unicorn Palace that serves as an underground tour of Buddhism’s version of hell. There are also swimming pools and slides, of course, but the main attraction has to be the delightfully out-there decor. Make sure your camera is waterproof, because your friends might not believe Suối Tiên (English translation: “the fairy stream”) is real unless they see photographic evidence.
#artinus3d | @steadyasweroam
Step Into the Frame
Most museums forbid visitors from touching, or even getting too close to, the art. Not Artinus 3D Art Museum, an interactive space where guests are invited to become part of the portrait. Paintings stretch across the walls, ceilings, and floors, creating three-dimensional canvases that are enhanced by the visitors’ presence. Cityscapes, giant puppies, King Kong, a fire-breathing dragon, and dinosaurs are just some of the fantastical subjects you'll get to pose alongside.
Edsel's Discovery
"The Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh Province, two hours away from Ho Chi Minh City, has been on my travel bucket list since I knew about it two years ago. Caodaism draws upon principles of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, and essentially believes that all religions are the same in principle. Here you see priests walking to their midday worship - they wear different colored robes depending on their spiritual allegiance: yellow, red or blue for Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, respectively."
Rice Field | @joyfulgins
Chicken Before the Egg
Cyclo Resto's menu is simple, but everything on offer is delicious. It's also authentically Vietnamese, with four main meal options ranging from fried chicken with lemongrass to stewed fish served in a clay pot. No matter what you order, it will be accompanied by steamed rice and egg coffee. For an even more home-cooked vibe, Rice Field offers a rustic experience in the middle of the city complete with banh khot (mini pancakes), canh du du tom tuoi (papaya soup with shrimp), and, of course, rice milk.
The Reverie Saigon | @koji0806
Everything Zen
It's right there in the name: Alagon Zen Hotel & Spa is a supremely relaxing place to stay, which is all the more remarkable considering it’s right in the middle of HCMC. The four-star getaway offers free afternoon tea and hot-spring-style pools in addition to sleek interiors, cozy rooms, and an onsite restaurant. Even more eye-catching is the Reverie, a five-star hotel with utterly gorgeous design. Since it’s also the tallest hotel in the city, its panoramic views are unmatched.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon | Sean3810
Saigon Street Food
"For a classic Vietnamese experience, I recommend checking out Ben Thanh Market. A normal market selling dry goods, souvenirs, produce and more, this standard market transforms into a bustling street food scene as the sun sets." – @life.of.brit
Perk Up
"There is a vibrant culture of coffee shops and coffee houses in the city. If you need a power up after exciting but energy draining hours in the city, take a seat on the tiny chair next to the locals and just observe." –
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