Saturday, November 24

Vietnam-Cambodia, Day Eight: Ho Chi Minh City

After a week of early starts we finally treated ourselves to a bit of a lie in. Well as much of a lie in as you can have while on holiday of course. There was still tons to get through and not enough time to do it, so we made a start on exploring HCMC by foot, following the walking tour map our hotel provided us with.

Most of our time was spent on the road taking in the passing sights and sounds, like the Ben Thanh Market and City Hall, but we did drop in to and spend some time in the city museum which was decent enough. The French colonial influence was clear to see here in the south, even if it was a little jarring at time.

The rain made us retreat into an early-ish lunch at Huong Lai, which turned out to be one of our best meals in Vietnam (even though it was another nail in the coffin of our $5 per person meal budget). After lounging for a while at the restaurant we fully went back into tourist mode. The first of our big sights in the afternoon was the Independence Palace which included a very useful (and inclusive) English speaking tour... which had the added benefit of keeping us on track with the time. Photos here.

The second big attraction we visited was the wonderful yet harrowing War Remnants Museum. This was pretty much a complete Vietnamese account of the war and its consequences, in the main documented by photographs. You can check out some of the photos I took here. Between the Palace and the WR Museum we were able to get a really detailed picture of what went on during the conflict. It was pretty sad, and if we hadn't been chucked out at closing time I think I could have spent at least another hour at the Museum. Photos here.

The rest of the late afternoon was spent back on foot, soaking in the night vibe of HCMC. There were quite a few young people about tonight, some hanging with their friends, a few more watching a live football game on a big screen. The cathedral, opera house, post office and countless hotels all added to an electric yet romantic atmosphere, something that the river of course added to in spades.

We found a halal restaurant to have dinner but unfortunately they were out of stock of any chicken or beef. But that wasn't the biggest disappointment of the evening; no that came when being refused entry to the Bitexco Financial Tower Skydeck (apparently these kind of places in Asia still require a dress code). Instead we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel - looking back we had already covered quite a bit today. Photos here and here.

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