Flags of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam still flutter across chaotic, lively Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, but few if any of the city’s eight million residents adhere to the Communist creed anymore. Instead shiny new office towers rise ever higher while the streets fill with flashy imported cars and zooming scooters.
To fully appreciate this city’s thriving modern vibe, Aqua Expeditions recommends starting with a look back in time. At Thien Hau Pagoda in Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinese neighborhood, exquisite sculptures line on the courtyard walls. Nearby stands Quan Am Pagoda, the oldest in Cholon and the Emperor Jade (Tortoise) Pagoda. Admire the French colonial heritage here as well, at Hotel de Ville, the General Post Office built by Gustave Eiffel and the adjacent Notre Dame Cathedral, completed in 1883.
Displays at the War Remnants Museum may be too disturbing for some, but its collection includes renowned images taken by international photojournalists on both side of the Vietnam War, among them the great Robert Capa and Sean Flynn, son of Hollywood legend Errol Flynn. Meanwhile at the Reunification Palace where the defeated government of South Vietnam ceded power to the North in 1975, time seems to have stood still, in striking contrast to Ho Chi Minh City’s riveting fast forward ambience.
Please note that pre- and post- Mekong cruise itineraries are not included in the Aqua Expeditions Mekong River cruise rates and are priced separately. We will be happy to recommend our preferred tour operators to arrange this component of your Vietnam holiday.