One factor that makes Ho Chi Minh City exceptional is the contrast between the old and the new. This is the country’s business centre, and there are many areas under development, but there are also many places and buildings from earlier eras that are well preserved and well worth visiting to see the French colonial influences as well as ancient Buddhist sites.
As the name suggests, this village is tailor-made for package holidaymakers, but nonetheless offers a pleasant choice of activities including water puppet shows, boat rides, and river cruises. It was built in 1994 by the Sai Gon Tourist Corporation on the banks of the Sai Gon River in Binh Thanh District, eight kilometres from the centre of Saigon. Generally considered the largest tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, it has an evening dinner cruise with cultural show.
Formerly a club for the French colonists, this elegant tree-shaded sports club has numerous tennis courts and a swimming pool which are open to the public for a reasonable fee. There is also a gym and table tennis facilities. In the early morning, there are usually groups of locals practicing the art of thai cuc quyen (slow-motion shadow boxing).
Address: 115 Nguyen Du St, District 1
The History Museum was built in 1929. It was expanded and thoroughly renovated in 1975, when it was renamed the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum. It houses a good collection of displays and illustrations depicting the cultural evolution of the country from ancient times plus valuable artifacts from Angkor Wat and household implements, clothing, ceramics and weaponry from Vietnam’s past.
Location: 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1.
The many interesting exhibits inside this beautiful white neo-classical building illustrate the Communist-inspired struggle for independence from French and then American dominance. Construction of the museum began in 1885 and was completed in 1890 under the eye of French architect Alfred Foulhoux. It was put to a variety of uses over the next 90 years before becoming the Ho Chi Minh City Revolutionary Museum in 1978.
Location: 65 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1.
This pagoda, the largest in Saigon, was built in 1956 to contain fragments of bone from The Buddha – Xa Loi means “sacred bones”. The pagoda was a centre of political protest against the regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem and in August 1963 it hit headlines around the world when troops attacked monks and nuns barricaded inside at the start of a campaign that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Buddhists around the country.
Location: 89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Street in District 3
The 16-room Fine Art Museum exhibits a broad spectrum of exhibits including contemporary paintings, some of which are for sale, along with older, fascinating works of art, including some valuable Cham, Indian and Khmer pieces. The museum is at 97A Duc Chinh street, District 1, just a few blocks from the traffic circle in front of Ben Thanh Market.
Address: 97A Duc Chinh street, District 1
The pagoda is next to a children’s amusement park. Built in 1962, is has seven storeys, though usually only the first two are open. Visitors are welcome to view the beautiful shrine and Buddha statues inside. Around it are lakes and gardens.
Location: 244 Ba Thang Hai Street, in District 10
The Opera House, also known as the Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theater, is an elegant building at the intersection of Le Loi St and Dong Khoi St in District 1, very close to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the classic Central Post Office.
The restored three-storey 1,800-seat Opera House is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays.
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