Besides the laid back vibe, the strong Vietnamese coffee, and the cheap yet delicious food, the fusion of the French and Vietnamese cultures is one of the reasons why I love Saigon. Dubbed as Paris in the Orient, the French influence on many aspects of the culture in Saigon makes up the city’s frenetic energy and the many local gems just waiting to be discovered. This was a result after France conquered Saigon in 1859 and became the capital of the French colony of Cochin-china until 1945. Until today, some of the more elaborate French architecture and colonial-style buildings are still standing firm within the city, which makes Saigon a city offering a glimpse of Paris in southeast Asia.
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest and probably the most chaotic city in Vietnam. It is a dynamic metropolis of skyscrapers and motorbike traffic combined with an array of historical sights and local markets. It’s a city with a billion things happening at once (not to mention how motorbikes, cars, and rickshaws go where and whenever they please). However, I love the chaos here – it is what makes Ho Chi Minh a unique place to visit in Asia. With hip cafes on every corner, unique architectures, fantastic nightlife, and delicious local food, Ho Chi Minh does offer exciting stuff besides the history and aftermath of the Vietnam war. Traveling to Ho Chi Minh is to be introduced to a dramatic meeting of the old and new culture, with incense-infused temples standing right beside tall skyscrapers making the Ho Chi Minh skyline a standout from its neighbouring Asian cities.
Exploring Vietnam’s war history will make you realize that the Vietnamese fighters were constantly outsmarting on the battlefield. A living testament to this is the Cu Chi Tunnels – the fascinating 200 km system of interconnecting underground tunnels near central Ho Chi Minh that served as a hiding place for Vietnamese soldiers during the World War. Cu Chi Tunnels are perhaps one of the best examples of the ingenuity of the Vietnamese fighters, as they were literally built by hand and are now arguably one of the most historically significant destinations in southern Vietnam.
Vietnam – You have probably seen it in the background of countless war movies, but nothing can prepare you for the unique beauty of this Asian country. From eating delicious pho to seeing locals in conical hats, Vietnam has a lot to offer! My recent trip to this country has been a different kind of experience. Exploring Ho Chi Minh made me fall in love with the city while crusing the Mekong Delta river has been a breathtaking experience. This time around, I also explored Vietnam with a couple of friends, which made it more fun!