- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Vietnam’s rich history has influenced this ancient city, Ho Chi Minh City, in a lot of ways. It is formerly known as Saigon and changed to its present name upon its independence. For many tourists, visiting Ho Chi Minh will primarily mean a trip to their history as its well visited landmarks are reminders of their past. In plans of touring around the city, it is highly recommendable that you visit during the country’s dry season which is from December up to February. Be guided with the following most visited tourist spots in Ho Chi Minh City:
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, with harrowing exhibits related to the horrors of war in this battle-worn nation. The museum primarily focuses on the Vietnam War, however some exhibits relate to the first Indochina War with French colonialists. It's a good idea to start on the top floor and work your way down, so you cap off your experience with the lighter exhibits on the ground floor. Most of the displays are photographic images, and some of these are confronting - especially the graphic shots of child Agent Orange victims. Artifacts on display include a guillotine and the "tiger cages" used for Viet Cong prisoners. Many argue that the museum's approach is biased, however the exhibits poignantly portray the brutality of war. The museum also includes a fascinating display on the work of war photographers, from both sides, who lost their lives during the conflicts. Period military vehicles and weapons are displayed in the museum's courtyard. After touring the countryside and the Củ Chi Tunnels, you'll find these exhibits even more moving, but note that some of the exhibits are not suitable for small children.
Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre
The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is perfect for families with young children and anyone who enjoys light-hearted traditional entertainment. Water puppetry originated in rural villages in the Red River Delta and has been performed in Vietnam for more than 1,000 years. The captivating 50-minute show provides a window into the country's culture. It's presented in Vietnamese, but the strength of the puppet characters, both people and animals, transcends the language barrier. Live music enhances the experience; the talented musicians play traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes and two-stringed violins. The theater is air-conditioned, and if you're sitting in the front row, be prepared for some gentle splashes.
A visit to the Reunification Palace, once known as Independence Palace, is more about the historic events that took place here than any pomp and grandeur. In fact, this 1960s-style building, with its large, airy rooms and dated furnishings, seems frozen in time since April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through the iron gates here, bringing an end to the Vietnam War. For locals, the palace represents this historic event and and the reunification of the country.
Set on 44 acres of lush lawns and gardens, the palace also offers a fascinating glimpse at the lifestyle of privileged heads of state in 1960s Saigon. It was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, which was bombed by fighter jets in 1962 in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. The current building was completed in 1966 and became the home and workplace of the successive president when Vietnam was split between the north and the south. Notable features include the president's living quarters, the war command room with large maps and antiquated communications equipment, and the maze of basement tunnels. You'll also see military vehicles outside, including the fighter jet that destroyed the Norodom Palace and tank 843, which rammed through the palace gate on that fateful day in April more than four decades ago. Guided tours in English are available.
Vietnamese History Museum
It is located between Nguyen Binh Khiem and Le Duan Street. The museum is home for various Vietnamese history memorabilia and antiques. A lot of tourists advise that it is good to read first the facts behind Vietnamese history in order to appreciate the artifacts. Outside the museum, there is a botanical garden where you can enjoy your lunch.