Friday, March 22, 2019

Vietnam Diary - Ho Chi Minh City

Hello you guys, I'm finally back with a first post about our three-week trip to Vietnam! My boyfriend Miguel and I spent 20 unforgettable days in this lovely Southeast Asian country exploring about eight different places. We visited the biggest cities, some smaller towns surrounded by beautiful nature and also a paradisiac island. We never really plan our trips ahead but spend more or less time at a place depending on whether we like it or not. This time we've taken it a bit slower though and spent at least two or three days in each town we visited. I have to admit I started our Vietnam vacation a bit worried since it was gonna be my first time in Asia but I was very positively surprised by the great organization, modernity and warmth of this country and its helpful, lovely people. Vietnam is an amazing mix of big vibrant cities and smaller charming towns, natural highlights and cultural diversity. A great country for adventurers!

Arrival and first Day in Ho Chi Minh City

I will start my Vietnam Diary series with a post about our first stop, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon. We flew with Qatar Airways from Madrid to Ho Chi Minh with a stop in Doha. We arrived at about 1 pm, however we had to wait at the airport almost two hours for our visa approval before we could enter the country, a pretty lengthy process. Once we finally got to our hotel it was almost 4 pm. We stayed at Next Home on Tran Hung Dao street, a lovely little place with unique decorations, a cozy rooftop terrace and two fantastic English-speaking owners who were very helpful.

We relaxed for a bit in our room and then headed out to explore the hot, vibrant and noisy city that is Ho Chi Minh. At first, we experienced walking the city as quite difficult due to all the crazy motor scooter traffic. However, you get used to the scooter insanity, just walk out there and don't be scared. Even though the scooter drivers will unlikely stop for you they'll make their way around you.

Following our hotel owner's recommendation we visited the popular Bui Vien walking street where you'll find lots of bars, clubs and restaurants. Surely one of the city's most buzzing and touristy areas but fun to see! Come here for great street food, drinks and parties. Since we were so tired from the long flight we headed home early that night after having some yummy Vietnamese noodle dishes for dinner. On our way back to the hotel we casually passed by Japanit Matcha, a cute little café that serves my favorite green tea powder in all kinds of dishes. Matcha cakes, lattes, ice cream, milkshakes, pudding... any matcha dishes you can imagine. I opted for a cold matcha latte topped with matcha soft ice cream. Pure green yumminess and a perfect end of our first day.

Second Day - What to do in Ho Chi Minh City

We spent our second day in Ho Chi Minh just walking through the city, grabbing some food here and there, visiting some popular buildings and also the War Remnants Museum. Here's a list of what we saw: 
  • Fine Arts Museum
  • Saigon Opera House
  • Saigon riverbank
  • City Hall
  • Notre Dame Cathedral and the pretty Central Post Office right next to it
  • Ben Thanh Street Food Market and Bui Vien walking street
  • War Remnants Museum
I have to say the War Remnants Museum impressed me most. I heard before that it's not for the faint-hearted and I totally agree, it was surely a quite shocking experience. At the museum you will get to see real war weapons, aircrafts and tanks but also very real, simply horrifying photos of the French and American war crimes including photos of injured bodies, bombed cities, corpses, grieving families and victims of the Agent Orange attack. There is also an exhibition space where prison cells and torture techniques used in the Phu Quoc prison are displayed. I had to avert my eyes several times and felt sick to my stomach while visiting the museum because I simply couldn't stand the sight of the exhibition pieces and terrible photos depicting the cruelty, injustice and outrageous results of the Vietnam War. However, I consider museums like the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh as very important and necessary to teach us about the past, tolerance, humanity and to show us why we should all seek peace.

Enough said, I hope you enjoy my tips and the photos of our first two days in Vietnam. More are coming soon so stay tuned!

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