Okay, so when you’re planning a trip and the first thing you check is where you want to go, right? If you decided to fly out an entirely new country, let’s say Vietnam. You immediately Google the best places to sight-see, eat and stay. Google gives you tons of results for you to choose from, starting from: Hotel bookings, prominent sightseeing places to amazing restaurants you can eat for under a buck. Printing everything out, you book your trip and fly over to the city as soon as time allows it. Over 20 hours later, you land in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam.
Coming here on your first trip may be shocking and in a sense, mind boggling as well. You’ll be experiencing a new culture all together and being exposed to different ethnicities while you’re at it. This is a great way to learn more about the country and its culture by touring the motherland, so to speak. Landing in Tan Son Nhat, this is Vietnam’s largest airport to date. Located just 8 km from the heart of the city, this is your first destination in Vietnam.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh is simple enough if you know the right way to do it. There are many stories of unsuspecting tourists being ripped off blatantly or taxi drivers driving away with luggage. Keep in mind: Always know where you want to go. Be firm with haggling and if worse comes to worse, walk away. If you’re a big fan of like taxis, there are other forms of transportation such as: Buses, railway, ferry and boat, car and jeep, motorbike or cycling. Of course, on your first day you’d like to reach your hotel as soon as possible. Take the taxi, be firm with your haggling and write down the price after it’s been decided where you need to go. It’s a headache saver, really.
Once you’re safe and settled in a Saigon hotel, it’s time to plan out where you want to go. Refer to these places if you’re the super adventurous type: Ethnic markets, temples and pagodas, the Citadel, water puppet shows are just some of the places that standout when traveling in Vietnam. One of the best places to mingle with the locals is at the ethnic markets where a variety of items will be on display as well as photographing people and items (though, always ask permission first; you don’t want your camera confiscated now do you?) Its common courtesy you see.
If you’re more into the arts and crafts, then you shouldn’t miss Vietnam’s water puppets, a stunning underwater performance conducted by highly skilled puppeteers. The puppeteers are submerged and control the puppet’s movements beneath the water. This is a spectacular show that is an instant must-see. If you’d like to stay on land and dry, there’s the flamboyant Saigon Opera House for your consideration as well.
Vietnam, like many Asian countries hosts a variety of beautifully crafted temples and pagodas, itching to be photographed by curious travelers. With many pagodas to choose from, where do you go? Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda is a pagoda build by Ho Chi Minh City’s Fujian community, and is best known for its vast collection of figurines, carvings and lanterns. There’s another famous pagoda called the Giac Lam Pagoda, founded in 1744 and has remained untouched for 100 years. This is the oldest and most iconic pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. People come here to pray for sick and recently deceased relatives that make the ambiance slightly somber. On the other hand, the pagoda’s garden skirt contains a beautifully crafted marble Buddha statue for all to see.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg by setting foot in a city once known as Saigon. There are tons of places you can go which aren’t restricted only to Ho Chi Minh City. Take a day trip to go to Nha Trang and visit their pristine blue beach waves and lounge by the beach, for example. But of course, the first steps to get to these places are to book Saigon hotels to make this trip a memorable one.