1. Ho Chi Minh City: Cu Chi Tunnels and City Tour in 1 Day
Starting with a pickup from your hotel in District 1 or District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City or from the convenient meeting point, depart Saigon as you drive through the pleasant countryside before arriving at the Cu Chi Tunnels. Before entering the tunnels, watch a short introductory video showing how the tunnels were constructed then spend the next hour exploring the underground maze. Also on display are various traps, the remains of an American tank, and numerous bomb craters made by 500lb bombs dropped by B52 bombers. You’ll then return to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving at approximately 1 PM to enjoy a lunch of beef or chicken noodles before embarking on your Ho Chi Minh City tour. Start by admiring the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, built between 1863 and 1880 this is one of the best examples of classical French colonial architecture. Remarkably every stone used in its creation was shipped from France to Vietnam and its two 40m towers, topped with iron spires, dominate the city’s skyline. See also the Central Post Office, the country’s largest post office and another example of French colonial architecture. Then, move on to see Independence Palace — also known as Reunification Palace — one of the most important buildings in the city. Here on April 30, 1975 the American War officially ended when tank number 843 of the North Vietnamese Army crashed through the gates of what was the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam. Next, visit the War Remnants Museum — formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes — for a poignant display of the futility of war. Some of the black and white photography in the “Requiem” exhibition dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict is particularly touching. The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks, and cannons captured from the American military machine. The next stop will be at Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the most atmospheric temples in the city where statues of surreal divinities and grotesque heroes are contained. After that, drive to Ben Thanh Market, the bustling market popular with tourists primarily due to its selection of goods and central location. The tour finishes at approximately 6 PM when you will be transferred back to your hotel or you can choose to stay at the market and make your own way back.