Ho Chi Minh City
Fist day in Vietnam and ready to discover Ho Chi Minh City (formerly named Saigon)! Saigon is the economical capital of Vietnam and was the first place the colonists settled and started their expansion. Saigon was also the capital of South Vietnam during the American war. It is a vibrating city, rebellious and mercenary, and the economic boom of Vietnam started there before reaching the rest of the country.
We started our day walking around the city, and went through the main city’s buildings:
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880
The Saigon Opera House
The Central Post office, vestige of the colonial age
Independence Palace: a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates on April 30, 1975 ending the Vietnam War.
War Remnants Museum: one of the highlights of Saigon! Great exhibition of war machines, historical pictures and explanations. Mainly centered on the Vietnamese war, and with a strong anti-American bend (for obvious reasons).
The Củ Chi tunnels
We took an entire day to visit the Củ Chi tunnels: immense network of connecting underground tunnels in the north of Saigon, it was used by the Viet Cong as a resistance base, for communication and supplies’ transport between the North and the South.
One of the entrances: who wants to crawl in there?
The tunnels were mostly used as hiding spots during combats or as living structures: the visit goes through the tunnels and all the defensive systems developed by the Vietnamese to slow down the American army.
One of the deadly traps made buy the Vietcong
The Americans were heavily bombing this region since they knew the Vietcong were hiding there. But the tunnels were too deep underground for the bombing to be really efficient.
The tunnels and traps were impressive but it was also super-touristic! Most of it has been rebuilt for touristic purpose and it’s far from what it was 30 years ago…
Cao Dai Temple
The trip to the Củ Chi tunnels was bundled with Cao Dai Temple, 1h north of Saigon. Cao Dai Temple is home of the Caodaism, monotheistic religion officially established in the city of Tây Ninh in southern Vietnam, in 1926. The religion mixes different beliefs and teachings from Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism or Taoism. The symbol of the faith is the Left Eye of God (7 to 8 million followers in Vietnam).
We witnessed a mass there, but it was fairly obscure for us and we couldn’t get any explanation on the meaning of the songs.
Nha Trang was the first stop on our way to the North. The city is more of a Russian family holiday place doesn’t have a specific interest, the beach being very average. But we enjoyed the nightlife and met Gerrit there, our German fellow who made the dangerous choice of following us along Vietnam 😉 !
We only stayed for a day in Nha Trang and left quickly for the to move up north.