By Oliver Jones
Vietnam is one of our most popular destinations for school expeditions and many teams will pass through the incredibly dynamic Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam at its very best – a city which is best described as a chaotic whirlwind! There are huge luxury high-rises, but there are also poor slums. There are incredible French colonial buildings paired up with some of the most outrageously garish buildings you’ll see in the country. The food is sublime, the people are amongst the friendliest in the world and there’s great souvenir shopping for Challengers and tourists alike.
In short, there are plenty of good reasons why many locals refer to HCMC as the “land of rapid culture”.
War Remnants Museum:
Formerly known as the Museum of American War crimes, the museum stands as a location to educate visitors about the atrocities of the American War in Vietnam and also memorialise those lost in battle. It’s definitely worth a visit and a great place for Challengers to learn about the recent history of Vietnam. One thing to bear in mind is that everything is displayed, understandably, from a Vietnamese perspective. The exhibitions serve as a graphic reminder of the cruelty of war and the suffering felt on both sides of the conflict.
French Colonial buildings:
There’s no chance of missing the influences from the times of French colonisation in the city. The Opera House, Hotel de Ville (city hall), the Saigon Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral all stand as proud landmarks in the city. You can do tours around all of them and learn about colonial times. You can also check out local cultural shows/demonstrations, such as the Ao Show, at the Opera House.
Giac Lac Pagoda:
Like many other Asian countries, the major religion in Vietnam is Buddhism. Giac Lac Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in HCMC and home to 230 years of history, 8 chief monks, more than 100 ancient statues and tablets. Of particular interest is the pair of tablets decreed in 1804 by King Gia Long.
Ben Thanh Market
What a place! You get everything here! Challengers will love this place as they can get fresh pho or banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches; think French baguette full of delicious spicy ingredients), fresh fruit and veggies, and every possible souvenir. The market is always full with locals, so you can rest assured it’s a key go-to location in Ho Chi Minh City!
There are many more sites to visit on top of all of these. Get excited and visit Ho Chi Minh City for an unforgettable Vietnamese experience!