Guide: More Places to See in Ho Chi Minh City.
There were many more amazing places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City and being a tourist I was happy to have downloaded the Lonely Planet Ho Chi Minh City guide on my iTouch so that we would have an indication of where to go and what to do. Here are more places which we covered in the City that you could go to as well.
Half Day Trips| You could get the half day trip to Cu Chi Tunnel from the hotel which cost USD$8 per person. It will take you to the place in an air conditioned bus along with tours and stories of the city. Our tour guide Hung told us a little about the history of Vietnam, of how the North and the South were at war before being united again. He also told us that there are 7 million people in Ho Chi Minh City and 5 million of them had motorbikes. An average of 3 motorbikes were owned by a person (for work, family, weekend). He also told us how Vietnamese are very hardworking people who would try their best to earn good money for their family. Even though they earn USD$500 a month, they were still able to give their families food and shelter. Those who owned a car were considered very wealthy as it costs a minimum of USD$20,000 to own one.
Handicap Handicraft Workshop | On the way to Cu Chi Tunnel we were brought to a rest stop which was at the local Handicap Handicraft workshop selling all kinds of art in frames, sculptures and installation. Even though the workers were not as unfortunate as us physically but their skills in creating and making these artwork surpasses even us with full limbs. We could purchase any art piece or make donation to the workshop to help keep the place alive.
Cu Chi Tunnel (Ben Dinh) | I was quite nervous in visiting the tunnels mostly because of my claustrophobia in being in small spaces. These tunnel were an elaborate underground community made up of 250km of tunnels and chambers below the city. The people of Cu Chi had dug the tunnels with their bare hands fit for their size (tiny) and with expertise. They had also planted bamboo stalks/trees that goes down into the tunnel to provide air for the people living and planning the military strategy. These bamboo would then be eaten by termites making he holes bigger thus providing more air. We got a look at all the traps that were made using natural resources of leaves, metal, bamboo to trap the enemies.
There was also a section for tourists to try their hand in shooting the big guns for a price. These were real rifles which were used during the war. As much as I tried to avoid the tunnel but the moment finally came and it made me awfully nervous. The first tunnel were only 200m distance but when I got inside I started to panic because it was hot and there wasn’t much air! The space got even smaller and smaller and that’s when I decided to get out at the first 200m. Everyone else continued until the third stage where they had to crawl instead of walking in the tunnel because the space was so small. For your info, they had made the tunnel bigger twice for tourists to go through and even then I felt it was still tiny! I have no clue how the people managed to sleep, eat, plan their attacks & even have babes underground!
When : Everyday (no entrance, just take photos outside of the Church only)
Jade Emperor Pagoda | From Notre Dame, we took the cab to see the Jade Emperor Pagoda. It took some time for the cab driver to understand where we wanted to go and in the end I had to take out my iTouch, open to the page and showed it to him in Vietnamese writing. He brought us there in 20minutes and when we entered we weren’t sure if it was the right place. Yes there were other tourists and yes they were also wondering if they were at the right place until we asked the lady at the counter booth. Entrance is free by the way but donation is most welcome. This temple was built in the 19th century and has a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese architecture. As I sat on the chair outside the temple, old women would come up to me selling lottery tickets as it seems buying a ticket within the temple compound brings good luck to the owner. I politely declined of course and sat there soaking in the green environment.
The Jade Emperor guards the entrance to heaven, while his two companions are there to help guide you in the right direction. As we walked in further to the left of the temple, we saw the Hall of 10 Hells. The carvings on the wall shows exactly what awaits sinners in hell. The entire collection is somewhat of a fusion of Taoist, Buddhist & Confucian mythologies.
Where: 73 Mai Thi Lu St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
When: Opens daily (8am-5pm)
How much: Free
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.