We had been warned to expect millions of motorcycles in Saigon (no exaggeration there are actually over 3 million motorcycles) and total chaos… what we didn’t expect was that we might actually love the millions of motorcycles and total chaos. Saigon is buzzing!
The first day in Saigon we did a lot of walking and checked out the Ben Thanh market. In the market we bumped into a postcard seller that featured on the NZ Intrepid Journeys travel show! What an awesome guy, his English is near
perfect, he has a great sense of humour and he can even speak a bit of Maori! We had a lot of fun chatting to him about his filming with Kerry Woodham.
The second day we went to the Cai Dao temple to witness a Service of the Cao Dai followers, this was a very interesting, unique and colourful experience. The temple is the headquarters of Caodaism (a religion with a mix of Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism) and the architecture is stunning.
After visiting the temple we went to Cu Chi. Cu Chi is now considered a heroic district for its role in the anti-American war in Vietnam. It is known for its extensive tunnel system which were used during the war as hiding spots during combat, served as communication and supply routes, hospitals and food/weapon storage as well as living quarters for the numerous guerrilla fighters. The tunnels have been widened to allow the tourists to have a go, even though they were double the size, it was still too small for us. We only lasted 30 metres out of the 100-metre tunnel before freaking out and needing to resurface via an emergency exit for air!
On our last day in Saigon (sob sob) we decided to rent 2 motorbike taxis (with drivers) for the day to maximise our sightseeing mileage. Our drivers were hilarious and consequently a lot of laughs were had throughout the day!
First stop was to check out the Reunification Palace (a building used during the war by the South Vietnamese president and where the handover of power was processed during the fall of Saigon).
Then we headed to Notre Dame cathedral and checked out the Main Post Office.
We took a very sobering trip to the War Remnants Museum. It’s hard to know what to write about it as it is such highly emotional place, we left the museum rather shocked and depressed. The museum is made up of a series of
themed rooms in several buildings (with photos and exhibits) and had military equipment out the front (tanks, planes…etc). I think the thing that moved us the most was the photo exhibition with the effects of Agent Orange.
In afternoon we went to Cholon Market and a shopping mall. It poured with rain and we got to pull out the rain ponchos. Styley!
The rain wouldn’t stop so we jumped on the bikes and headed towards the hotel, stopping off for a few beers with our drivers on the way at a local pub (an experience in itself).
Then in the evening we were invited by the owner of the hotel we were staying at to join him for a slice of moon cake and tea. It was fun to continue practicing our Vietnamese and him to practice his English.