About Kirsty S
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Feb 2015
I have travelled extensively through Southeast Asia. I know Thailand and Malaysia particularly well, but also love Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore. I travel to this part of the world whenever I can, sometimes on a short trip while on route to Australia, and sometimes for extended periods of time so that I can really get beneath the skin of a particular area – whether I’ve been to that spot before or not. I've spent a lot of time in Bangkok – it's a fascinating melting pot of a city where there's always something new to explore. I also love Hanoi and have explored it both independently and as part of an organised tour. More than anything, I love discovering something new while travelling and sharing it with those who have the same passion for travel as I do. I’m a bit of a foodie and never get bored of the beach.
Historic Sites, Government Buildings, Architectural Buildings
Flea & Street Markets
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Observation Decks & Towers
Sacred & Religious Sites
Start your first day in Ho Chi Minh City by learning more about the Vietnam War – from Vietnam’s perspective. A visit to the War Remnants Museum is an important and educational stop on your Ho Chi Minh City itinerary and creates a basis for understanding the rest of your time in Vietnam.
Staying with the history lesson theme, be sure to squeeze in a trip to the Reunification Palace too. Home to the presidents of South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon in 1975, interestingly, the palace has been left exactly as it was back then.
Chaotic yet fun, a trip to Ben Thanh Market, the city’s busiest and most central market, is worth the assault on the senses! It’s a lively and colorful place where determined market vendors and customers haggle for everything from fresh meat and vegetables to clothes, domestic items and souvenirs. Grab some lunch from one of the food stalls here to set you up for the afternoon’s activities.
Make sure you embark on one of the most interesting day trips out of the city by heading to the Cu Chi Tunnels. In just a few hours you’ll learn how the Viet Cong lived underground for long stretches of time during the war. You’ll also see bomb craters along with booby traps that were used on American troops. For those who aren’t afraid of small spaces (some of them are incredibly narrow) you can experience the tunnels firsthand by getting in them.
Quan An Ngon is an amalgamation of hundreds of street food sellers situated within a beautifully renovated French villa. Perhaps understandably then, it attracts locals and tourists in their droves. A great spot for dinner on your first day in the city, there’s a huge variety of Vietnamese dishes to sample, from northern cuisine to the food of the Mekong Delta – and everything in between.
Let’s face it, no trip to Ho Chi Minh City would be complete without exploring the Mekong Delta. The Mekong River flows through Tibet, China, Burma, Laos and Cambodia before finally winding its way into Vietnam. Travel along the river by longtail boat, sample exotic fruits and candy, visit local markets and learn all about rural life in and around the Delta.
One of the best ways to experience the city from an entirely different angle – the Bitexco Financial Tower is a huge skyscraper that features what’s known as the Saigon Skydeck. From here you can admire incredible panoramic views of the sprawling Ho Chi Minh City below.
For traditional and fantastic-value Vietnamese food, head to Cyclo Resto for dinner. The fixed menu is just fantastic and the flavors of each dish will blow you away. Cyclo comes highly recommended.
If you need a break from Vietnamese food, head to The Elbow Room for breakfast. It serves up delicious western dishes in a friendly atmosphere and is ideal for a relaxed breakfast or brunch. If you must have western food while in Ho Chi Minh City, this is the place to do it.
While the Jade Emperor Pagoda may seem tired and shabby in places, this is the oldest and most atmospheric temple you’re likely to find in the whole of Ho Chi Minh City. Filled with fascinating sculptures and figurines, the decor and ambience gives this place its undeniable charm. (Oh, and there are also real-life ‘lucky’ turtles kept in the grounds!)
Seeing a water puppet show while in Ho Chi Minh City is one of those must-do activities. It’s a great opportunity to experience Vietnamese culture and, despite being staged entirely in Vietnamese, is easy to follow and highly entertaining. Water puppetry in Vietnam dates back to the 11th century and symbolizes the link that water has with all aspects of life on earth. The shows are performed on water (obviously!) and traditional bamboo rods are used to control the puppets.
For dinner with a twist, escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a cruise along the Saigon River. This is a fantastic experience where you’ll be served a delicious dinner accompanied by live entertainment, all against the backdrop of the twinkling lights of the city as you float along.