Rickshaw Tour of Ho Chi Minh City (Old Saigon)

My first ever expedition to Vietnam began with a brief stay in bustling Ho Chi Minh City or what was formally known as and still commonly called today, Saigon. Flying into Saigon city at night is like flying into a carnival with billions of dazzling neon lights promoting busy outdoor markets, food stalls, karaoke bars, cafes and the like. By daybreak, the city transforms into a maze of industrious people, shops selling everything imaginable, electric cables and death-dying traffic chaos which seems to emulate some sort of Zen flow to it all. Here is a collection of my photographic impressions of this busy city:

Downtown Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market is conveniently located at the other end of the street where my hotel was (District 1).

Inside Ben Thanh Market

The first appetizing food stall I came across in the market.

My first Vietnamese meal – fresh shrimp springrolls.

Not a bad drop! One bottle of beer costs anywhere between 10,000 – 25,000 Dong. One Aussie dollar at the time of my trip was just over 21,000 Vietnam Dong.

Have you ever heard about Weasel Coffee?

Street food vendor outside the market

This was definitely the best way to get around Saigon – cyclo

Communist flags, banners and posters are plastered throughout the city

One of the many beautiful well-kept parks in the city centre

Anything can be transported by motorbike, including trees

One of the many spacious and leafy boulevards of Saigon

The Reunification Palace

Built in 1871 and named Norodom Palace when it was used as the colonial mansion of the French Governor-General of Indochina. In 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem took it over as his Presidential Palace.  It was renamed the Reunification Palace after the famous incident on April 30, 1975 when tanks smashed through the front gates and Saigon surrendered to Ho Chi Minh’s NLF soldiers.

Parks and tree-lined streets in front of the Reunification Palace

Uncle Ho’s always on show!

Notre Dame Cathedral

Built between 1877-1883 from imported materials shipped from France. Vietnam has the second largest Catholic minority in Asia, after the Philippines.

Inside the cathedral

The front view of Notre Dame Cathedral

The old and the new

Newly weds outside the cathedral

Saigon Central Post Office – a French colonial building with a classic interior. This also operates all postal services from the city and is the best place to buy a phone card.

Inside the Saigon Central Post Office

Ho Chi Minh is watching over

An old map inside the PO

Another wall mural at the PO

Communist wall posters

The Hammer and the Sickle

Long Live Uncle Ho!

The Saigon Opera/Municipal Theatre, built in 1898 by the French to entertain but closed during the revolution. It was reopened by the Americans but shut down again when they left. It was re-opened and used by the Vietnamese government for administration and finally, in 1993, it was re-opened as a theatre!

Modern and urbanised Saigon

City Hall (HCMC People’s Committee) or the People’s Palace

Built between 1901-1908, known as the Hotel De Ville during the French period.

More nationalist displays

Back at the hotel

My cyclo driver and I made it back in one piece!

Saigon was both exhausting and interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take advantage of all the cheap shopping so soon into my 3 week trip. Next up, the Mekong Delta!

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