Originating from Red River Delta in northern Vietnam during the 11th century, this uniquely Vietnamese art form uses a shallow pool of water as a stage to tell a story. Shows are performed entirely in Vietnamese, though the story is easily understood by an international audience thanks to skills of the puppet masters and their gestures. Accompanied by a traditional orchestra, singers tell an ancient Vietnamese tale that mixes daily life, national history and folklore as the lacquered wood puppets glide, float, fly and swim across the stage.
Set inside an exquisite yellow-and-white colonial villa with airy corridors and verandahs, this museum is home to some beautiful local art dating back to the 4th century alongside rotating exhibits of contemporary art by local and international artists. Historical pieces include elegant Funan-era sculptures of Vishnu, Buddha and other revered figures carved in both wood and stone, and Cham art dating from the 7th to the 14th centuries. The second floor of the museum features a permanent collection of sketches, paintings and statues, many of which focus on the resistance to colonial rule. The third floor exhibits older works from Vietnam's history.
The War Remnants Museum is a sometimes confronting and disturbing experience housing harrowing displays from what the Vietnamese call “the American War.” It may not be cheerful viewing but it is one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, attracting approximately half a million visitors every year.
Established in September 1975 (five months after the last American troops left), it is home to U.S. armored vehicles, aircraft, infantry weapons and bombs, including a giant “daisy cutter,” as well as controversial images detailing the brutality of war. Not to be missed is Requiem, a homage to the photojournalists who lost their lives covering both sides of the conflict.
Located in the heart of the city, the Central Post Office is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Saigon. Designed at the end of the 19th century, the interior boasts ornate furnishings, a gorgeous pattern-tiled floor and soaring ceilings with a spectacular dome. Of special note are two painted maps created just after the post office was built. The first one, located on the left side of the building, is a map of southern Vietnam and Cambodia titled ‘Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892’. The second map is of greater Saigon, entitled ‘Saigon and its surroundings 1892’. Besides being a tourist attraction, it is important to remember that this is, in fact, a working post office.
This trendy street food market, located on Thu Khoa Huan Street close to Ben Thanh Market, is a great place to sample tasty local bites at affordable prices. The retractable awning roof can be opened or closed to suit the weather. It is mainly aimed at foreign tourists so language and hygiene should not be a problem and the many food vendors sell everything from snacks and desserts to barbecue, with both Vietnamese dishes and other Asian favorites well represented. There are also many kinds of beers to keep you cool while you’re out and about.
Saigon’s Notre-Dame Cathedral (or Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, as it is officially called) is a twin-towered cathedral and one of the most prominent architectural landmarks in the city. Built from 1863 to 1880 with materials imported from France, it now stands between two busy streams of traffic. While the streets outside are always bustling with tourists, locals and street vendors, inside is an austere oasis of peace and calm. It does, however, comes alive as a church during services.
The Saigon Opera House, also known as the Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Minh City, is one of the top venues in Vietnam for opera and classical music. It is only open to the public for performances, but it is worth visiting any time as great photo opportunities await. The building is a fine example of French colonial architecture and is located on a wide, tree-lined boulevard which feels very European.
Currently, the most famous performance you can see at the Opera House is the A O Show, which can be described as a blend of Cirque du Soleil and traditional Vietnamese elements. Tickets for the A O Show can be bought at the Opera House, online, at travel agents, or at any Silverland hotel.
Ben Thanh Market (Cho Ben Thanh in Vietnamese) is a popular market located opposite Saigon’s central bus station. In the market, you can find clothes (including the famous ao dai traditional Vietnamese dress), footwear, accessories, jewelry, hardware, souvenirs, crafts, flowers and food. With a little patience and savvy bargaining skills there are some excellent deals to be had. While Ben Thanh is aimed at tourists and not an authentic local experience, it is definitely worth visiting and a good starting point for touring the city center.
Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, became part of history in 1975 when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through its main gate, signifying the end of the long-running war. The official handover of power also took place here.
Originally it was the site of the Norodom Palace, which served as the home and workplace of the French Governor of Cochinchina. Today it is like a time capsule frozen in 1975, with two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds.
Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the palace hides secret rooms, antique furniture and a command bunker within its eerie corridors. It is still used occasionally to host government functions, including APEC summits and national events.
Wonderful stay in Saigon
Faultless service and attentive staff, made our stay in this hotel perfect.
Situated in the city centre everything was within walking distance so able to see all the city tourist recommendations.
Hotel staff helped us to arrange trips outside the city.
The only slight let down was the rooftop bar and pool area which was small and soon became full which is a shame because it was a lovely area to relax in during the evening.
What a fantastic place to stay.. great location.. fantastic views from rooftop bar..
The staff are incredibly friendly. One of the girls in the bar gave me a traditional Vietnamese hat to put on so I wouldn't get sunburnt while reading