Today explore the country's most dynamic city, Ho Chi Minh City. Still called Saigon amongst older generations, this city was renamed as Ho Chi Minh after North Vietnam's President in 1975. A day spent here reveals a bustling lifestyle with an interesting mix of modernity and traditional Vietnamese traits. Modern skyscrapers appear amidst Chinese style pagodas and food vendor stalls and create a truly dynamic urban area.
Start the morning with an early morning walk through Tao Dan Park in the center of Saigon. Enjoy the sounds of song birds, have a local coffee to get you moving, and watch as locals start their daily routine with Yoga, Tai Chi, badminton and much more. It’s then a short walk to the Venerable Thich Quang Duc (Burning Monk) Monument. You will stop for a hot bowl of breakfast soup before heading to Cho Lon, known as the Chinatown of Saigon.
Cho Lon is a feast for the eyes. From pagodas to parks, local craftsmen to lively children on their way to school. Your guide will lead you through the winding backstreets, describing the daily life of residents and the history of such an iconic area including two unseen buildings that were directly involved in the reunification movement. Have the opportunity to make and sample the beloved sugarcane juice - a great way to rehydrate as you explore. From Cho Lon we head for lunch in a local restaurant where you are treated to some amazing food in a setting unlike anywhere else in Saigon.
After lunch it’s a short stroll to an old apartment block where residents have come together and transformed their homes into funky, stylish, unique coffee shops. It’s fun to simply wonder through the building, marveling at the creativity and ingenuity of the owners. After exploring, you will get to relax for a traditional Vietnamese tea-tasting. You might not be a tea connoisseur, but you’ll find it fascinating all the same and probably learn more about the types, history and methods of brewing than you would in a month of studying! Travelers may choose to stay and relax with more tea on the beautiful balcony, take another stroll through the building, head back to your hotel, or go back out into the bustle of central Saigon.