You might still remember it as Saigon from your younger days, but a lot has changed in the Vietnamese capital. Modern skyscrapers and a nightlife that goes until the morning mark a lively city situated squarely in the 21st century. That said, history buffs and those seeking an authentic cultural experience will have no trouble getting their fill. Here are AsianDate’s picks for the sophisticated traveler in Ho Chi Minh City.
Things to Do
Jade Emperor Pagoda
You have to go see at least one temple, and this is the best one to visit. Smoke from incense swirls mysteriously around large, powerful statues of emperors and generals and carvings of dragons, making the inside of the Jade Emperor Pagoda look like the setting for the final battle of a kung fu movie. Leave the karate kicks at home, though.
1975: A North Vietnamese Army tank crashes through the gates of Independence Palace, and just like that, the Vietnam War is over. We’re sorry to say that tank driving is heavily discouraged for visitors, but history buffs will still have a good time learning about one of America’s first heavily televised and documented foreign actions from a different perspective.
We’d name a specific place, but you’d just get pulled into any of ten other karaoke bars on the way there. The Vietnamese love karaoke, and their enthusiasm is so infectious that you’ll end up loving it, too. Whether your voice is like Frank Sinatra’s or a little closer to William Hung’s, the crowd will cheer you on all the same.
Suoi Tien Park
We’ll put it plainly: this place is insane and you need to see it. Suoi Tien is a Buddhist waterpark, which means you and your date will have the privilege of beholding such momentous monuments as “Sacred Frog on the Holy Mount.” We’d tell you more, but we’re kind of speechless.
Tao Dan Park
HCMH is a famously urban city, and you’re gonna need a breath of fresh air. Hit up Tao Dan Park to stretch your legs and admire some beautiful Asian landscaping that you can’t see anywhere else in the world. It’s a great date spot, too—ladies love long, romantic walks.
Where to Stay
Hotel Nikko Saigon
The Nikko Saigon is known internationally as a trusted five-star hotel for five-star visitors. Classy and elegant, the minimalist design of the Nikko makes it a great spot to recharge between treks into the city.
Sofitel Saigon Plaza
Despite being only steps from the city center, the Sofitel is surrounded by trees and a plaza that make it easy to take a breather. Modern French and Vietnamese design come together to form a quintessential 21st international lodging experience.
Pullman Saigon Centre
The Pullman gives you all the options. You’re minutes away from the Ben Thanh market, where you can shop and eat to your heart’s content in a local, authentic setting. But when you’re looking to go upscale, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant will provide the perfect luxury dining experience.